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Bicentennial Tidbits Greenville’s First (and only) Streetcar

Yes, Greenville had a streetcar in the late 1800s, but, since the town had not yet been modernized with electricity, this public transport was drawn by mules.

Mr. Frank McCarthy wrote in 1941 about his family moving to Greenville in 1890.

When they got off the train, “the first thing that I saw was our one and only street car and it was a mule-drawn affair and the route was from the depot to the court house, and it gave you a wonderful ride for five cents. Dick Kelly was the driver and the mule was his motor.”

The tracks were laid out for the streetcars beginning in October 1889 and by March 1890 the cars were operating up and down Commerce Street.

There were three “motors,” or little Texas mules, who took turns working.

The two cars could run simultaneously and pass each other although there was usually only one running.

Each could hold up to 20 passengers. Accompanied by a tinkling of bells, the cars held advertising signs and notices of social events.

By February 1895 the streetcars sat abandoned and the tracks had been pulled up. Initially a great success, there was not sufficient patronage to make the enterprise profitable.

Although there was talk of extending the line to the fair grounds and to Magnolia Cemetery, this was never done.

Evidence of the track’s cross ties were still visible when Commerce Street was paved in 1908.

The cars later burned in a warehouse fire in 1899. And so ended Greenville’s one and only street car line.


From the files of the Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society.


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