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Uncertain future for Red Wing Trolley

For the last five summers, Red Wing Trolley Co. has shown visitors and locals alike the sites of Red Wing. Now the trolley is for sale and owners Curt and Karen Kline hope to see it stay in Red Wing. (Photo courtesy of Angela Hauschildt)

Five years ago Curt and Karen Kline took a trip to Stillwater, Minn., where they rode the trolley.  

At the time the streets of Red Wing had not been home to a trolley in 12 years.

The Klines changed that.

They purchased a trolley, hired employees and put together a tour which has made its way through the streets of Red Wing ever since.

After deciding to return a trolley to Red Wing, Curt Kline spent the first winter refurbishing the Philadelphia trolley and worked to maintain the Victorian flavor of the interior.

“You can say there’s not another one like it,” Curt Kline said.

But now the future of Red Wing Trolley Co. is unclear.

The Klines needed to ease back and recently decided to sell the trolley and focus on their main business, Red Wing Mobility, which they have run for 20 years.

“It’s hard for us to run two businesses,” Curt Kline said. “It was just too much for us to keep seven vans running plus a trolley and a bus.”

The Klines both said they would love to see the one-of-a-kind trolley stay in Red Wing.

“Our dream is to keep it here,” Curt Kline said, adding they had a custom desk made for ticket sales at the St. James Hotel.

That dream, however, has its limitations.

Karen Kline said they have been sitting quietly for the time being, and they will continue to do so through December.

Come the first of the year, however, they need to move forward and, barring any interest from a local buyer, the Klines will begin to advertise the trolley nationally.

“We’ll entertain offers from local as long as it’s available,” she said, “but we will seek other ways to get rid of it.”

The decision to sell the trolley was one not made lightly, she said, mainly because the seasonal business was doing well.

“It was successful; it was complimented,” Karen Kline said of the trolley. “You kind of feel like you’re letting the town down a little bit, well you can’t do that, but that’s what it feels like.”

The Red Wing Trolley Co. was also home to nine seasonal employees, not including Curt and Karen Kline and their daughter, Angela Hauschildt, who was the marketing and tour director.

Talk of selling brought one interested party, but the timing wasn’t right for that entity, Karen Kline said.

“We would just love someone to take it over,” Curt Kline said. “All we wanted to do was to figure out a way to somehow keep the trolley in Red Wing.”

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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