By Jonathan L’Ecuyer
Hampton Union, July 16, 2004[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON BEACH - Thousands of tourists drive their vehicles up and down the boardwalk searching for a parking space, struggling with traffic, and looking for something to do. Relief from the unwanted vacation stress has been provided by the modern-day Hampton Beach Trolley Company for 10 years.
Trolleys have been a mainstay at the beach since the late 1800s. The Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury Street Railway once brought thousands to the beach on electric trolley cars.
Tom Higgins, owner of the Hampton Beach Trolley Company, has managed to keep the tradition of service alive with bus-type trolleys.
Higgins purchased the company 10 years ago; the trolleys had been under Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce control before the 1994 purchase.
Two different routes are served by three trolleys.
The company’s three trolleys were manufactured by the Molly Trolley Corporation. The vehicles are from three separate model years. The newest was built in 1999, and the fleet includes others built in 1998 and 1987.
One trolley known as the "Miss Cassidy" and equipped with air conditioning brings people along Route 1 with stops at the Black Bear Campground in Salisbury, Mass., and Seabrook Greyhound Park offered as a free service.
The other two trolleys, the "Mary J" and the "Michaela" circle Hampton Beach stopping at several hotels and other trolley company sponsoring businesses.
The Route 1 trolley service runs from June 30 to Labor Day The beach route begins in early July and lasts "right up through the Seafood Festival," Higgins said. The service is free to people staying at the sponsoring hotel establishments.
Beach stops include Buc’s Lagoon Mini-Golf, Atlantic Motel, Oceanside Mall, Kentville, Ashworth by the Sea Hotel, and the L Street Cafe.
People wanting to ride the trolley and not staying at a sponsoring company pay $2, except children under 12 who ride for free.
The Route 1 trip takes about one hour, while the beach service trolley ride can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on traffic, Higgins said.
The trolleys are maroon with gold trim and seat 32 to 36 adults.
The company is located at 31 Ocean Blvd., at the corner of P Street in Hampton.
There are 12 drivers as well as mechanics and cleaning workers.
After the last large gathering of the summer season at Hampton Beach, the Seafood Festival on Sept. 10, the company makes money working for functions in the area.
Both the Route 1 schedule and the beach route are available at both Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce offices located on Ocean Boulevard and downtown Hampton.
For information, call (603) 926-5789.