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eBay Tuesday: YMCA Boys' Club Trolley Ride

Youngsters take a ride on the Montville Street Railway

Sometimes the history is in the details, and in this week's eBay item it's in the fading lettering on a nearly century-old postcard.

Offered by user cartophilians, the card shows an outing of a YMCA boys' club on a trolley ride in New London. Men and boys, along with a rare woman or two, pose for a crowded shot around the car. The lettering on the front of the trolley suggests that it ran a route between New London and Norwich.

Indeed, just over the open area in the middle of the trolley you can make out the words "Montville Street Railway." The origins of this route date back to 1898, when numerous people from the region testified in court in favor of having a trolley line between the communities to provide a more convenient alternative to the spotty train service.

The trolleys started running in 1900, tracing a leisurely route between Parade Plaza and Franklin Square. The route took Mohegan Ave. up to Norwich through a "delightful stretch of country," covering the 14 miles between the two communities in an hour's time. Stopping at Quaker Hill was a nickel fare, while the full route cost 20 cents.

As has been mentioned before, the once popular trolley routes in this region disappeared as vehicles became more popular and public transportation transitioned to bus service. The Montville Street Railway ran as an independent entity only until 1904, when it turned over its assets to the Consolidated Railway Company.

As for the YMCA, it was founded in London in 1844 with the first American branch of the organization appearing in Boston in 1851. A YMCA once occupied a Meridian Street building but this organization fell apart after this location closed in 1981 and the programs were dispersed to various other places. The New London Community Center Collaborative is hoping to set up a communal place to fill the void left by this departure.

The starting bid for the postcard is $19.95 plus 50 cents for shipping. The seller says it is in very good condition with some spot toning on the back. The auction ends at about 7 p.m. tonight.

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