A Streetcar in Fort Smith
Old #224 once again carries
passengers along a 1.5 mile
track through the historic
Arkansas city.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Trolley Cars of Fort Smith, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Trolley Cars of Fort Smith, Arkansas
A Streetcar rolls through Fort Smith
The Fort Smith Trolley Museum now offers rides on
restored historic streetcars along an expanding route
through downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Inside #224
The trolley line offers visitors
to Fort Smith a remarkable
chance to step back in time
and ride a historic streetcar.
Fort Smith Museum of History
Passengers board #224 at
the outstanding museum in
downtown Fort Smith.
Fort Smith National Historic
The trolleys provide a unique
view of the popular national
park area.
Fort Smith Trolley Museum - Fort Smith, Arkansas
Streetcars Make a Comeback!
More than 100 years ago, electric power
brought a wave of innovation to American
cities. One of the most popular of that time
and the most nostalgic of ours was the
streetcar, an electric-powered trolley that
once rolled along the streets of most
Southern cities.

Riding the streetcars became a passion for
Americans. They were immortalized in song
and story -
A Streetcar Named Desire, for
example. And while many cities today use
motorized trolleys designed to look like
streetcars, there are few places where
passengers can still catch a ride on the real
Fort Smith, Arkansas, is one of those

The Fort Smith Trolley Museum offers rides
through downtown Fort Smith on restored
FSL&T (Fort Smith Light & Traction) #224, an
authentic streetcar that rolls along rails past
many of the city's key historic sites.

The first public transportation (stagecoaches
aside) came to Fort Smith in 1883, when
three mule-drawn cars began operating in
the city. Within ten years, however, the mules
gave way to electricity and the "clang, clang,
clang" of the Fort Smith trolleys could be
heard day and night.

Open platform cars eventually gave way to
enclosed cars and by the 1920s riders were
enjoying safe, heated streetcars as they
roamed from place to place in the old city.

A combination of factors, not the least of
which was competition from buses, brought
the streetcar industry in Fort Smith to an end.
Before the cars stopped running in 1933,
they rolled over 30 miles of track that offered
key routes through the second largest city in

The rails and streetcars disappeared over
time. #224, for example, was carried to
Ashdown, Arkansas, where it became the
"Streetcar Cafe." Others went to similar fates.

But in one of the most impressive historical
restoration projects in the South, a group of
concerned citizens have brought Fort Smith's
trolleys back to life.

Dr. Bradley Martin, a prominent Fort Smith
physician, researched and published an
article on the city's streetcars in 1979. After
his narrative appeared in the
The Journal, a
publication of the Fort Smith Historical
Society, interest surged in the streetcars.

Remarkably, as part of his research, Dr.
Martin learned that FSL&T #224 still existed
and was listed for sale. A special committee
was formed, funds were raised and #224
was soon on its way back to Fort Smith.
Other similar discoveries followed and the
Fort Smith Trolley Museum came to life. After
years of hard work by dedicated volunteers
and support by individuals and businesses
in the community, #224 rolled again under its
own power on Christmas Day 1990. It would
prove to be a Christmas gift to history lovers
from around the world.

The museum now operates 1.5 miles of
track in downtown Fort Smith, where the
streetcars stop at such attractions as the Fort
Smith Museum of History,
Fort Smith
National Historic Site and the Fort Smith
Convention Center. Further expansion of the
line is already in the works.

Please click here to learn more about the
Fort Smith Trolley Museum and the amazing
work done by the volunteers there to bring
back one of the South's lost streetcar lines.

The trolley usually runs seven days a week
during the summer and on weekends during
colder weather. It is extremely popular with
kids and the last time I rode (in 2008) the
price was only $1 for children and $2 for
adults. The experience is worth far more than
the price. The most popular place to board is
at the Fort Smith of Museum of History on
Rogers Avenue in downtown Fort Smith.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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