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        The Fort Smith Trolley Mural

trolley mural by John Bell, Jr. - Fort Smith, Arkansas
Trolley Mural at Laurabel Brocchus Stop

In 1990, local artist John Bell, Jr. designed this mural for the Fort Smith Trolley Museum, and directed a team of his art students in painting it. The mural depicts the 50-year heyday of street railway transportation in Fort Smith, Arkansas, beginning with the mule-drawn streetcars of 1883, on the far left. The second car shown is an open car, in which the motorman stood outside. After that came the semi-convertible trolley and, on the far right, the Birney "safety car," which was used until Fort Smith Light & Traction Co. closed in 1933. Four historical buildings are shown in the background, including Fort Smith's W.H.H. Clayton house (center left) and the Fort Smith Art Center (center right).

In 1991, a tornado tore through downtown Fort Smith, knocking down the concrete-block wall of the building on which the mural was painted. Mr. Bell found a unique solution for reassembling the wall. He numbered each block so that his students could place it in the correct spot. They then touched up the paint, and added a special momento: a small funnel cloud in the top right corner, along with the date '91. In April of 1996, another twister came though "Tornado Alley," destroying many of Garrison Avenue's historic buildings and (minor in comparison) blowing one set of the museum's front doors off their hinges. A '96 was added to the mural to commemorate that event.

Currently, the mural is beginning to deteriorate and there is a large crack in the wall of the building. Fortunately, the Fort Smith Trolley Museum has just purchased this building (Sept. 2004) and the property on which it sits. Plans include renovation of the outer walls.

See artwork by John Bell, Jr.:
Author Stan Kujawa's home page
Fort Smith Trolley Museum Store

Copyright © 2004 All Rights Reserved

Fort Smith Trolley Museum
100 South 4th Street
Fort Smith, Arkansas, 72901
(479) 783-0205

Owned and Operated By:
Fort Smith Streetcar Restoration Association, Inc.
2121 Wolfe Lane
Fort Smith, AR 72901