The Trolley Comes To Town
Written By Gordon L. Burdick
September 22, 1992
Moneysaver Shopping Guide
Transcribed and Submitted By PHGS Member: Frankie Stonemetz


During “Oil Boom” days, 1800’s, Bolivar was well supplied with Railroad lines, The narrow gauge. Angelica, Friendship,Hornellsville, Bradford, Eldred, Cuba, Portville, Olean, and Bolivar were on the routes, also Wellsville.

It was unfortunate for the railroad that the principal product of this area was oil, for the oil flowed much easier through pipelines than carried by rail. The central New York and Western and several Pennsylvania railroads went together and formed the Pittsburgh, Shawmut, and Northern Bolivar had quite a time trying to get the trolley here. The franchise came through in middle November 1902. The first service to Olean was every 90 minutes, from 5:45 am to 9:45 pm.

On November 29, the terminus was finished. By December, all problems had been solved. A power plant was built in Ceres that used gas from nearby wells to supply power to generate electricity that was distributed to Olean, Bradford and Salamanca to propel the area’s trolley system.

The trolley became a big help in linking 2 business and commercial centers. The Shawmut passengers switched to the trolley. The fare was 60 cents and on the train, it was $1.00 for a round trip to Olean. Mail was also delivered by the trolley and so was freight of sorts. The trolley had an open car used in the summer. This was fun for an eight-year-old. Remember?


"Bolivar NY, Feb. 19, 1910"
(Photo contributed by Sherian Duncan)

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