Inquiring minds: the original Green Line

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here are some of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

Q.    Now that the Green Line is coming to the St. Paul, I’d like to know something about the original version. When did the first streetcars start running? And when did they end?

A.     The very first streetcar line in the Twin Cities ran along 4th Street in Saint Paul in 1872. It was pulled by horses. Unfortunately, as a power source, horses were far from ideal. Compared to machinery, they easily tired and their voluminous waste products did not exactly enhance the urban pedestrian experience. An experimental electric streetcar line was introduced in Minneapolis as early as 1885, and by 1891, the horse-powered era of streetcar travel had ended. Streetcars remained a big part of the local transportation scene until post-World War II changes in housing and automobile use gradually led to the decline of mass public transit. The last streetcar in the Twin Cities disappeared from the tracks on October 31, 1954.

(Minnesota History, Spring 1954; p.44 and the website of the Minnesota Streetcar Museum: www.trolleyride.org)

Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 628-6803 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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