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A Trolley Ride through Marietta's History

By Marina I. Jokic

When one thinks of the American South, certain nostalgic images creep in: colossal oak trees with weeping Spanish moss, grand plantation manors, and people sauntering along the street. Despite its troubled past or perhaps on account of it, the Southern U.S. has many cities rich with historical destinations and waiting to be discovered. In an interview with Betsy Throop, Business Development Director of the Historical Marietta Trolley Co., we learn what makes the trolley tour a popular visitor attraction especially for firstcomers, and why it might be preferable to other forms of exploration.

Throop says that "the trolley has the visual effect of nostalgia on passengers when they see it from the street as well as when they are on board." Nostalgia seems to be a recurring theme in the South. In this case, the company's red and green "Uncle Ruban" trolley is named after the first trolley in Marietta, which ran between Atlanta and Marietta from 1905 to 1947 and was the largest interurban electric railway in the South; it carried approximately 1.4 million passengers per year by 1920. Throop points out that during World War II, the trolley made special runs for defense workers to Bell Bomber Plant, now Lockheed Martin.

The 19th century saw the peak of trolley transportation in the U.S. By the early 1900s, the decline of trolleys as a major form of transportation began and the Great Depression delivered a final blow to many trolley and streetcar companies nationwide. Throop adds that "perhaps because they were popular in this exciting time in history, their nostalgic appeal remains sealed in the minds of modern passengers."

The city of Marietta was actually the setting for many important moments in the Civil War, and the tour tries to capture most of these highlights, exploring the Kennesaw Mountain battlegrounds, the Confederate Cemetery, and Kennesaw Avenue, which is lined with historic homes. The Marietta National Cemetery is one of only a few to have both Confederate and National cemeteries within the city limits. At the National cemetery, there are soldiers from the Revolutionary War through Afghanistan. Because it is such a pretty cemetery, some families moved their veterans here by special permission, with several veterans who have perished in recent conflicts.

More facetiously, the famous "Scaryetta" is the company's ninety minute-long ghost trolley tour, which explores the city with a stop in the Old City Cemetery and aims to give a few frights. The walking ghost tour guides us by lantern around Historic Marietta Square with several stops at other haunted hotspots. The Mary Meinert statue in the cemetery has been reportedly seen to shed tears of blood at midnight- not for the faint of heart.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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