Long before Tennessee Williams came up with the idea, an inept Harrison city council had no desire for a streetcar of any name.
In a bit of editorializing that would make journalism instructors cringe, the Harrison Daily Times, in a January, 1937, edition, told its readers that a “dumb” city council had once turned down a proposal for an electric street car system.
Emphasizing the disgust of the paper, the subhead using the “dumb” appellation ended with an exclamation point.
In 1900, George W. Zeigler proposed the street car system, as well as offering to build a lake at Grubb Springs.
Zeigler was a prominent lumber man, operating several mills in Boone County. He was born in 1837 in Perry County, Pennsylvania. He resided in Bear Creek, Omaha and Young townships in Boone County. He died in 1916 and was buried in Omaha Cemetery.
In his obituary, Zeigler was called “a man of sterling character and superior ability as well as a first class citizen.” The National Lumberman, Vol. 57, said he was a “man of considerable wealth” and at the time of his death owned large tracts of cut-over lands.
Zeigler’s fine reputation, however, apparently didn’t sway the Harrison city council.
“But looking over the proposition as then offered,” the Daily Times reported, “it certainly reflects on the intelligence of the city fathers of that era. In fact, it still looks like a good plan, as far as the lake and water system is involved.”
According to Zeigler’s proposal, the street car line would have begun at the old passenger depot. It would have proceeded to the courthouse square, then west on Stephenson Avenue to the M.E. Church. The streetcar would have then gone south on Pine Street to Gordon’s park, then turned west and gone to Grubb Springs.
The paper went on to say that Zeigler had acquired 80 acres at Grubb Springs, with “its never-failing water supply.”
Zeigler proposed to build a dam forming a lake that would be 200 feet above Harrison and for recreational purposes. According to the paper, Zeigler wanted a franchise for a water system for Harrison, to be operated by gravity flow from the spring and consequently having no pumping expense.
“Mr. Zeigler apparently was ahead of his time,” wrote the Daily Times. “The citizens chose to stick to their horses and buggies, outdoor plumbing and indoor recreation. And today Harrison is still lacking a recreational lake, but would accept one if offered.”
This is article is part of a series about Boone County history and provided by the Boone County Heritage Museum. The museum is located at 124 South Cherry in Harrison. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Closed on Sunday and Wednesday. For more information on the museum, call 741-3312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.