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‘Old School’ Public Transportation Twin City Streetcars Date to 1867

Bloomington streetcars, 1867.

The week of September 2, 2015 marked 148th anniversary of the first official run of the Bloomington-Normal streetcar system. It was on September 6, 1867, that the Bloomington & Normal Horse Railway inaugurated its first line, which connected Downtown Bloomington with Uptown Normal. As implied in the system’s original name, the earliest streetcars were pulled by horses. The system was electrified in 1890, and a network of lines eventually reached into residential neighborhoods in both communities. The end of local streetcar service came in mid-December 1936.

The view here is of the east side of the Courthouse (now Museum) Square in downtown Bloomington sometime in the first decade of the twentieth century. Just imagine if the Twin Cities had such a streetcar system in operation today!

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History


Steven Lay5/13/20 7:46am


I’m interested in learning more about Daniel T. Foster, who was mayor of Bloomington in the 1890s. Daniel is my first cousin, 4 times removed. I found on the web an article written about 10 years ago telling the story of the scandal that surrounded Foster when he served as mayor. The story states that Foster “ran a bus line.” I am guessing that means the trolley service that operated in Bloomington. Was he an officer of the company? Since Foster’s only child died at a young age he has no descendants. Distant cousins such as myself are all that is left of his family.

Thank you for your help.

Steve Lay
New Jersey

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