Merrill Transit 125 exhibit opens
The Merrill Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of Merrill Transit 125: A Celebration of 125 Years of Public Transportation in Merrill. The exhibit opened to the public starting Friday and will run through October 2015 at the Merrill History & Culture Center, 100 E. Third St., Merrill. Visitors to the exhibit will especially enjoy seeing an original door from Merrill Trolley No. 1 which is on loan to the Society for the exhibit.
As an extension of the transit exhibit, early Merrill bicycle, automobile garages and filling stations with related memorabilia are on display.
An art show featuring more than 50 historic trolley renderings by Everett Rusch to Merrill is also part of our opening festivities, The prints are on display in the upper level of the Heritage Center during the Transit Exhibit.
Rounding out the activities planned for the opening, local historian and author Tom Burg will present “The History of Merrill Railway and Lighting Company” on Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. Tom will share what he has learned about the company that brought Merrill one of the country’s earliest electric trolley transportation systems. Be one of the first to own Tom’s new book about the trolley days in Merrill, Nobody Walks Now-A-Days, which will be launched at the program.
Merrill was among the first communities in Wisconsin to start an electric trolley service in 1890. In 1913, a trackless trolley was added to bring riders from the Sixth Ward to the main trolley line. The trolley made a trip every 10 minutes for 16 hours a day. Merrill Railway & Lighting Company was a private company that built its own power plant in 1899. They ran the trolley system in Merrill until 1915, when they sold to Wisconsin Valley Electric. The electric trolleys were retired in 1921 in favor of motorized buses.
The Merrill Go Round was named in 1975 and became a full service transit system. The current Merrill Transit System is highly rated in the industry. Since 1975, it has operated as a demand-response system, with curb to curb service, making it very unique among city bus services.
Contributors the the exhibit include Jack Burkam, John Cotter III, Tony Fischer, Brion Hoffman, David Johnson, David Jones, Mike Kolasinski, Mary LaHaie, Larry & Bea Lebal, Al Lokemoen, Merrill Historical Society Collections, Merrill Transit System (Rich Grenfell), Kathleen Nutter, River Street Antiques, John Sapp, Garry Schmidt, T.B. Scott Library, Paul & Matt Waid, Mike Weckwerth, Ralph Wehlitz and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.
Exhibit hours are Wednesday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment.
The Merrill Historical Society’s mission is to educate the public about our heritage using the unique historical and cultural resources we collect and preserve. For further information on the programs and activities of the Merrill Historical Society, or to become a member, please contact the Society at 715-536-5652 or [email protected], or see the website at www.merrillhistory.org.