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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TROLLEYVILLE, U.S.A.

TROLLEYVILLE, U.S.A.

 

TROLLEYVILLE, U.S.A., the Gerald E. Brookins Museum of Electric Railways, Inc., is a museum of streetcars and transportation located at 7100 Columbia Rd. in Olmsted Twp.. Gerald Brookins, who was involved in the mobile home business and whose holdings included Columbia Mobile Homes Park in Olmsted Twp., had a long-time interest in trolley and streetcar transportation. In 1954 he began the museum, purchasing interurban and trolley cars as the lines were discontinued and placing them near Columbia Park. Brookins traveled worldwide, including to Switzerland, England, and Mexico, to collect about 30 trolley and train cars. A 3 1/ 2 mi. working streetcar line (the "Columbia Park and Southwestern Mobile Home Route") operates on a route through the Columbia Trailer Park. (The line also had a practical side: it transported trailer park residents to a shopping center.) Brookins died in 1983 and his grandson, Mark Brookins, became the chief proprietor of Trolleyville, U.S.A.

The museum features, in addition to streetcars and the streetcar line, a car barn, and photographs and memorabilia of Cleveland's transportation past, and is planning to restore all of the cars it has acquired. In 1995, the nonprofit museum was supported by donation and ticket sales to its numerous annual events, which include the Christmas Festival of Lights, Jazz festival, Halloween party for kids, and murder mystery production which, combined, placed patron traffic at more than 10,000. In June 2001, the Brookins family sold the Columbia Mobile Homes Park. According to the terms of the sale, which did not include Trolleyville, USA, the museum was given 5 years to find a new location.  Efforts were made to find a new location for the collection, including downtown Cleveland, but were unsuccessful largely because of the economic downturn of 2008-2009.   A cars and parts were sold, but a large collection of trolley-related memorabilia was donated to CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY.