All Aboard for Wabash County’s Fun Trolley Tours

Trolley No.85 gives complementary tours for all festivals and is enjoyed by all ages.

By Cathy Shouse

“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley,” from the famous Judy Garland song, applies to Wabash County. Going into its fourth year, trolley rides have been available, either on planned, themed tours, or for private rental. Now the program is getting a major upgrade with a new trolley on order. The arrival will hopefully be mid-May. All agree that the trolley puts a nice flavor on the town, especially with the Taste of Wabash tour.

“The new trolley is being custom built for us by Hometown Trolley in Wisconsin and they’ll be driving it down,“ said Jennifer Long-Dillon, tourism manager for Visit Wabash County. “I’ve been months working with them. It holds 40 people and has a wheelchair lift ramp. It’s going to be on a heavy-duty chassis and have mahogany wood inside and out. Our current, 20-passenger one, we bought used from out-of-state and we’ll be trading it in. The trolley’s becoming so popular that we’re outgrowing our old one. “

Participants for the St. Trolley’s Day enjoyed stopping by Harry’s Old Kettle Pub & Grill for Irish-themed appetizers and libations.

A favorite tour, The Taste of Wabash, will return after a year’s hiatus. Alan Jachinski, chef and innkeeper of Herrold on Hill Bed & Breakfast, has been a regular on the tour. In 2018, he served smoked Alaskan salmon stuffed aebleskivers for an entrée.

“The menu varies each time, based on the time of the year and what people want,” Jachinski said. “When they sign up, they can let us know their preferences, from meat to fish to vegetarian. They come from all over, one year from Copenhagen, the people were in town visiting relatives. They were very, very impressed. The trolley puts a nice layer on things. People are always looking for ways of transportation. Wabash is small but it’s hilly and the trolley saves walking up hills.”

A partnership with the City of Wabash and Visit Wabash County is funding the new trolley. For 2020, seven tours are planned. For most, just one trolley full is scheduled, and the tickets go fast. To get early notice on ticket sales, sign up for the trolley newsletter at jennifer@visitwabashcounty.com

You can also catch some trolley fun at First Friday events as well as all festivals. A new offering is May 23rd, a historic buildings tour, replaces last year’s trolley homes tour. Rentals are often made for weddings, etc. and rates vary from $250 to $400 per hour. https://visitwabashcounty.com/tours-and-trolley-rentals/

The Woman’s Clubhouse has participated and gives tours of the historic building as well as serving lunch, such as salad stuffed pasta shell drizzled with in-house vinaigrette dressing.

Wabash County’s trolley features mahogany wood and bench-style seating.

Ellen Stouffer, vice president in charge of the house, said, “We had basically a light lunch and a tour. We’ve recently added a three-story porch. Visit Wabash County likes the clubhouse because of its history and it goes along with the theme. It’s just a positive for everyone.”

David Cattin of Peru works part-time at the Honeywell Center and discovered the clubhouse through taking a trolley tour. He’s since become involved and attended a board meeting in March. “I wanted to see if I might be of some other service to them,” he said. He described the tour as “very enjoyable” and “wonderful.” To put his comments into perspective, Cattin’s originally from Peru and returned to the area after having a career in Washington D.C. He has travelled the world, and appreciates the trolley tour as being among the best activities he has been on.

Since the new trolley will go normal speeds and can be taken on highways, there are new programming possibilities.

“We would like to go and get people and bring them to Wabash…It’s going to expand our opportunities to engage outsiders in our county,” Long-Dillon said.

If you catch the Wabash trolley this spring, you, too, may remember Judy Garland’s singing: 

“Chug, chug, chug went the motor;
Bump, bump, bump went the brake…”