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Couple Uncovers Early 1900s Trolley In Their Backyard

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A Weyauwega, Illinois, couple made a startling discovery on their property—a century-old electric trolley car.

Bill and Sharon Krapil purchased the home where the trolley was discovered a year ago. When the time came to demolish one of the outer buildings on the property, the discovery was made.

“I heard stories from people in my family too,” Sharon said. “They said a man lived in here, for a while, and they said, I think it’s a train car, they actually never said a trolley car.”

“It’s like history stepping out of time, into my backyard,” Sharon said of the streetcar.

Two sisters, Mary Jane Baehman and Rita Kraus, who grew up in the neighborhood made their way to the house once the trolley was unveiled.

“What did you call it?” FOX 11’s Bill Miston asked Baehman.

“The trolley,” Baehman said. “But (the owners) were Bill and Florence Haberkamp, they were the people that resided here and owned it at that time.”

It has been over 60 years since then and the trolley has remained protected by an exterior structure.

The trolley had been converted into a functioning home for the Haberkamps, complete with a small bathroom that included a bathtub and toilet.

“That, of course, was the kitchen,” Baehman said as she toured the trolley with Miston. “There was a sitting room here and the TV sat on a little stand right here, and a couple chairs and then, right where you’re standing was the bunk beds.”

Bob Lettenberger, director of the National Railroad Museum, explained how the trolley may have ended up in this small town.

“There was a time when you could get on an interurban here in Green Bay and get all the way out to Albany, New York,” Lettenberger said. “They were very popular for the time and while they were popular, there were a good deal of them running around the U.S., when the service stopped, it became surplus.”

The trolley cars were purchased and converted into homes, play areas, and used in other ways. Many are believed to be all over the country.

Mad World News reports that the trolley is from the Chicago Surface Lines company, and Lettenberger estimates it was built in 1905 or 1906 by the St. Louis Car Company.

The Krapils are unable to restore the trolley but are open to giving it to someone who can.

“We can’t afford to put money into it, I really would like to see it preserved,” Sharon said. “If someone is interested [in] taking it out and restoring it, I would be very happy, because it’s like a piece of Americana.”

Sources: FOX 11, Mad World News

Photo Credit: Mad World News