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Street Railways in Lincoln

The first street railway in Lincoln went into operation in 1883. The Daily State Journal on November 3 of that year included this account:

"Mr. Durfee was busily engaged yesterday afternoon breaking his bronchos to the work of pulling the street cars. Although the horses have been broken to harness they had never been introduced to a street car, and the gorgeous appearance of the car and its peculiar rumbling struck terror into their hearts at first.

"One very handsome little team could not accustom themselves to the appearance of the car, and became very nervous at the jerking motion when they stopped and started. They twisted around with their heads towards the car, changed sides and acted in a highly sensational manner generally, much to the edification of forty or fifty small boys and as many interested adults. One of the horses finally expressed its decided disapproval of the vehicle to which it was attached by planting its hind heels against it several times in rapid succession. Lest some of the more timid of those who contemplated riding on the cars may be alarmed, we will here state that when the brakes were set all the contortions of the team had as little effect on the car as they would have had if the team had been hitched to The Journal building.

"Another team was put on and in an hour or so got used to the starting and stopping so that they went along like old timers, and pulled a car load of boys up the hill from the depot to the Arlington [Hotel] in good shape. Free ride today and tomorrow, but no ride on Monday without a nickel ante."

The Lincoln City Guide, compiled by the Federal Writers' Project and published in 1930, said: "For a decade, the horse-drawn streetcars provided transportation service in the city; then they were replaced by electric trolley. Up until the World War, however, the horse remained the chief means of transportation. Young blades might pedal about town on bicycles, and take their country cousins for a ride on the streetcars, but the man of means who wished to cut a figure kept a stable of high-stepping horses."

(May 2002)



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