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Restoration of Minnesota Valley Fair Amusement Park Cars

Author Photo
By Staff

6348 Mildred Avenue, Edina, Minnesota 55439-1448

In the early 1970s, Ziegler Caterpillar Company of Bloomington,
Minnesota, built several gas-powered trolley cars for Valley Fair
Amusement Park. They were used to shuttle people from the parking
lots to the ticket gates. These cars were 26 feet long, seating 30
to 35 people. The cars were single four-wheel trucks and were
powered by a V4 50 HP Wisconsin gas engine. They went six to ten
miles per hour and had a one speed reversible transmission. They
were made to replicate 1890s open cars of that time period;
operator’s controls were on the front end only.

In 1996, the Transportation Museum acquired four of these cars;
two were resold and two were kept for restoration. Although the
cars were not that old they were in total ruin. Many volunteers
started restoration on car number one in a borrowed building. The
car was converted to bi-directional operation by adding controls to
the rear. Safety switches were added so that the engine could be
stopped from either end. The brakes work from both ends at all
times. The car runs on standard gauge rail tracks and is easy to
operate. One automobile headlight and two taillights are on each
end. Car number one is now operational.

Valley Fair car number two’s restoration went somewhat along
the lines of car number one. Bob Dumas did a restoration of the
body and built a clerestory roof and windows as on car one. The
body on car two is mostly redone. No work has been done on the
engine or transmission. In 1998, the Museum’s 600-volt overhead
wire was installed finally, and we moved into our new car barn.
Then we acquired car 78 from the Como Harriet Street Car
Division.

Car 78 was built in 1893 and ran in Duluth, Minnesota, as a
street rail passenger car until approximately 1915. Work crews used
it until the 1920s and later sold it as a playhouse, garden shed
and finally as a chicken coop. The Museum acquired it in 1980 and
restored it to its former elegance and put it on our new tracks and
overhead wire system in Excelsior, Minnesota.

The MTM operates the rail line at Osceola, Wisconsin. It also
operates the Jackson Street Roundhouse Rail Museum at St. Paul,
Minnesota, the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line in Minneapolis,
Minnesota featuring vintage electric street rail cars and two
buses. The MTM also operates the steamboat, Streetcar Division at
Excelsior, Minnesota featuring a one hundred passenger 1906
Steamboat fully restored and operational and vintage streetcar
number 78. The Museum, at this point, wants to sell gas-powered
cars one and two.

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