BY WEEKS PARKER, November 2021
From 1906 until 1919, there were three different trolley cars that ran from the top of Haymount Hill and down Hay Street to the Market House where the tracks curved onto Gillespie Street past the Bevill Mule & Horse stables (present site of the stone courthouse) and traveled past the old baseball park and fairgrounds where Babe Ruth later hit his first home run in professional baseball. These street cars also traveled to the Victory Milling Company in Massey Hill.
The street cars were nicknamed “The Toonerville Trolley” from the popular newspaper cartoon called “Toonerville Folks” that was a syndicated feature in newspapers from 1908 to 1955. The first streetcar was powered by steam, but because the horses and mules on the streets were frightened by the steam engine, it was soon replaced by a trolley that had a gasoline engine. Later it was replaced by an electric trolley. In 1919 the trolley and the entire system were sold to Holmes Electric Company for $100.
Many of the grandparents and other relatives of people who now live in Fayetteville probably delighted in riding down Hay Street on “The Toonerville Trolley” in the early 1900s. Although the fare for riding the “Toonerville Trolley” was only a nickel, times were hard and that was a lot of money. A 12-ounce bottle of Pepsi Cola was only five cents, and a loaf of freshly baked bread was 10 cents. Day old bread sold for five cents, and movie theater tickets were 35 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. Popcorn was five cents for a large bag, and double-dipped ice cream cones were also a nickel. There was no bottled water, and most restaurants would gladly give anyone a free glass of ice water when requested. Some people enjoyed going to a restaurant on a hot summer day and ordering a toothpick and a free glass of ice water.
When the old streetcar lines were removed from Hay and Gillespie streets, a friend of mine gave me a cross tie and a spike from the old streetcar line. They were recently on display in the history section of the main Cumberland County Public Library on Maiden Lane.