Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

April 29, 2012

Quality of life advances

Late April is a great time for Kokomo. Our city is bursting with blooms; Kokomo residents are enjoying our fine (and constantly improving) parks, and we anticipate a summer filled with opportunities and events. Just when we think it cannot get better, Kokomo’s “quality of life” gets even better. If you have not seen Foster Park for a while, you might be surprised to see two new water fountains located within the Wildcat Creek itself near the foot bridge. Indeed, someone who has not been to Foster Park for a few years will stand amazed at its transformation.

As I was driving down Markland Avenue the other day, I noted the City Line trolley stopping to pick up a passenger. The City Line was needed more than most of us realized. Kokomo not only provides this important service, but our buses look inviting; the trolley-style buses add to our city’s appearance.

Where did the idea of a “trolley” come from? According to Webster, the word trolley used to refer to “a device that carries electric current from an overhead wire to an electrically driven vehicle” or “a streetcar powered electrically through a trolley — called also trolley car.” Although the word also refers to any kind of cart, the overhead wire (or rail) would typically distinguish a trolley from a bus. Nowadays, we refer to a bus that resembles the appearance of trolleys as a trolley.

On this day 140 years ago (1882), the electric trolley was introduced to the world in Germany. The “… Electromote built by the Siemens and Halske company was a converted four-wheel landau carriage, equipped with two 2.2 kW electric motors transmitting the power using a chain drive to the rear wheels. The voltage used was 550 V DC. The electric power transmission to the coach was by a flexible cable pulling a small eight-wheeled ‘contact car’ (Kontaktwagen) that ran along the overhead power lines. In English language use, the Kontaktwagen was later named the ‘trolley’, giving the trolleybus its name,” Wikipedia says. There you have it!

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