In February at a Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Scott Dario made a proposal to begin trolley tours this summer, something that had wide support from pretty much everyone. Oak Bluffs has had an extensive history of wheeled travel, beginning when the Vineyard Grove Company opened the Highland House Hotel and built its own wharf to compete with the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company’s new development. They used a horse drawn trolley to deliver boat passengers and their luggage directly to the Campgrounds. It extended the line down Lake avenue, up Seaview avenue and on to Waban Park using four cars, but by 1873 service was curtailed.

When the never quite established Windemere subdivision was created, from 1890 to 1894, the promoters devoted a great deal of attention to an electric trolley that traveled seven miles from Cottage City to Lagoon Heights with the Windemere stop alongside Eastville avenue. The round trip was said to have taken an hour with cars running every 30 minutes. The trolley line was laid from downtown along Wing Road, left onto Alpine then right onto Hudson with a stop at Prospect House that ended at the foot of Hudson on the Lagoon.

With the single-minded purpose of taking people to and from the hotel, the line was probably doomed from the start. For longer than it had any right to do so, from 1874 to 1895, the Martha’s Vineyard railroad tracks used a steam engine that ran from the Steamship Authority along the bluff along Town Beach, the Inkwell and State beach, all the way to Katama in an effort to steal some of the Cottage City of Americas newfound tourist trade.

An article by Gene Baer from the May 1977 Dukes County Intelligencer recounts the Dukes County Railway Company’s 1892 announcement that it intended to build an electric trolley service from Cottage City to Gay Head, a 25-mile rail line. This, of course, never reached fruition but the Cottage City Line sprung up to offer a scenic three-mile ride for a nickel from Oak Bluffs to the Lagoon. The idea was cloned by Tisbury which granted a franchise to the Martha’s Vineyard Street Railway Company.

Besides the brief one-and-a-half mile trip to the waterfront, another reason this plan failed was the opening of the Lagoon between Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. The ensuing rivalry ended when, both losing money, the two companies merged, and then managed to stay alive for 22 years.

And now it appears that Mr. Dario has developed a sustainable business plan that could revive the heritage of Oak Bluffs by combining a new tourist feature with a quaint means of transportation. The early plans call for touring Edgartown and Vineyard Haven but with stops only in Oak Bluffs. Each trolley would carry 26 passengers and be billed as an Oak Bluffs tour.

At last notice Mr. Dario was looking for guidance from the selectmen on an itinerary, a drop-off and pick-up site and permission to drive up Circuit avenue. I’m looking forward to this next development in a series of positive ones taking place in Oak Bluffs — a game room at the Loft, the new bowling alley at the Barn, the reopening of the Strand Movie Theatre (thanks to the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation) and soon the cool and colorful new trolley service.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Friday evening there is a live and silent auction for Windemere at the Grange Hall. They welcome your support.

June 6 at the Oak Bluffs Library folks are invited from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. to meet the Scapegoats, a colorful way to show off the skills of goats (and piglets) who provide natural landscaping. Of course it’s free to the public.

Next Friday (June 12) is the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s opening reception for the new Lois Mailou Jones exhibit and art show from 5 to 7 p.m. This is very exciting. Also next Friday is Martha’s Vineyard Magazine’s annual Best of the Vineyard party at the Loft. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Anyone want to bet Oak Bluffs wins the most categories?

Hats off to my neighbor Rachel Araujo who, with Deb Debettencourt, co-chaired this year's After Prom Committee and made an enchanting evening for a bunch of wonderful high schoolers.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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