When Dick Zimmerman was approached with an opportunity in 2007 to become a conductor of the famous Stillwater Trolley, he was uncertain. After all, the trolley had become a popular tourist attraction since it ran its first present-day route in 1989. After just one ride, however, Zimmerman knew that this was what he wanted to do—and he’s been on board ever since.
It’s a job that changes every day. Though the routes and historic landmarks remain consistent, it’s the people who ride the trolley that interest Zimmerman the most. In his opinion, the best part about the job is “the interaction with visitors, especially to hear about their interest in Stillwater,” he says. Not only have people come from as far away as South Africa, the trolley has drawn some memorable characters. Zimmerman remembers a particularly jolly trolley ride when an entire Santa Claus club boarded the trolley one summer in July, white whiskers and all.
Learning about the town’s history seems to bring every group of trolley riders together. In addition to Stillwater’s downtown area, “People want to know about the history of the old homes,” Zimmerman says. With his expertise and passion for Stillwater history, it’s easy to see why the trolley remains an important institution in Stillwater tourism.