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Photo of the first Dayton Christmas trolley, 1967
The first Dayton Christmas Trolley, 1967

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Dayton, Ohio, Electronic Trolley Bus (ETB) System
A Local Legacy

Why are there reindeer on top of that trolley car?

That's the Christmas Trolley in Dayton, Ohio, one of only a few cities in the United States that still operates an electric trolley bus system for its mass transportation.

The trolley, invented in Germany in the early 1880s, was called the "trackless trolley," "trolley coach," "trolley bus" and eventually the "electric trolley bus." Trolley buses are propelled (moved forward) by electric motors and receive power from an overhead wire system. They are full-size buses that run on rubber tires and are steered just like other buses. They operate almost silently and produce no smoke or pollution.

In 1888, the White Line Electric Railway began running a route in downtown Dayton and, by 1910, five separate companies had built other lines. The trolley 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 electronic trolley buses (ETBs). These ETBs, which began running on April 23, 1933, continued the trolley legacy in Dayton.

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