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The first Dayton Xmas trolley, 1967
The first Dayton Xmas trolley, 1967 Photo courtesy MVRTA

Dayton, Ohio, Electronic Trolley Bus (ETB) System

Dayton is one of five cities in the United States that operates an electric trolley bus system for its mass transportation.

The city's first street railway carriages were pulled by horses or mules. Built by the Dayton Street Railroad Company in 1868, railway carriages only ran up and down Third Street. The railway system was an immediate success and made its owners, Huffman and Williams, wealthy. Other capitalists quickly added more city lines.

The electric street car, invented in Germany, took the world by storm in the early 1880s, arriving in Dayton in 1888 on a new downtown route. Called the White Line Electric Railway, it was a roaring success. By 1910, five separate companies had built other lines. This new transit system was called the "trackless trolley," "trolley coach," "trolley bus" and eventually the "electric trolley bus." The electric trolley bus clanged its bell, ground its steel wheels on the steel track, threw sparks, and remained the primary mode of city transportation until the early 1930s.

After a fire in 1932, the Dayton Street Rail Road Company replaced its destroyed trolley cars with model T-40 street cars (buses) built by the Brill Car Company and strung new trolley wire for the car's return. These ETBs, which began running on April 23, 1933, established the continuing electric trolley bus legacy in Dayton.

Documentation includes a detailed 20-page report on Dayton's electric trolley bus system, trolley route maps, 35 photos, and a video.

Originally submitted by: Tony P. Hall, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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