Back on track

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Staff photo by Allison Potter 

Ed Anderson, right, explains to Bill Creasy his plans for the model train at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History on Thursday, June 27.


In the same way the Wrightsville Beach trolley line linked Wilmington and New Hanover County residents with the playground of Wrightsville Beach, the history of Wrightsville Beach is inexorably linked to the trolley line. 

Within the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, one of the most prominent features is the scale model of Wrightsville’s beach strand from Station One south, circa 1920, complete with trolley line. For the past five years the single trolley car has remained motionless on its track, its mechanisms originally installed by Wrightsville Beach historian Bill Creasy in 1996. 

However, much to the delight of Creasy, museum director Madeline Flagler and the many young children who will visit the museum in the future, volunteers from the Wilmington Railroad Museum will soon have the trolley car up and running. 

On Wednesday, June 26, Wilmington Railroad Museum volunteers Bill Bryden and Ed Anderson reconfigured the wiring underneath the model to renew the electric current in the track and the next day Anderson returned to restore the track itself. 

An aficionado in HO scale models, Anderson said he picked up the hobby when his job removed him from sailing in Long Island, N.Y., and relocated him to Columbus, Ohio. Anderson became aware of Wrightsville Beach Museum’s stationary trolley after meeting Flagler. 

“I’m glad we could come down here to help the museum out,” Anderson said. “We just couldn’t allow any model train not to run in Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach.” 

Although Anderson and Bryden restored electricity to the track, they discovered the model trolley’s engine was no longer operational. To keep the original authentic trolley body Creasy used, Anderson said it would have to be fixed to a new trolley car frame and engine ordered from Germany. German model train cars are more durable and last longer than those made in America, Anderson said. 

The model trolley’s original architect, Creasy, was on hand Thursday to meet Anderson and ask about his plans to restore the trolley to working order. A former railroad worker himself, Creasy is also a model train enthusiast. 

“I think it adds a lot to the model for the train to be running, especially for the little kids,” Creasy said. “It would also be nice to add several more structures to the model too.” 

Happy to finally meet Creasy, Anderson said he sees and hears Creasy’s name constantly around the Wilmington Railroad Museum in connection to the items and historical accounts he has provided. 

“You’re like a legend around there,” Anderson told Creasy, who laughed and accepted the acknowledgement. 

Due to the fact that he, and the others at the Wilmington Railroad Museum, are volunteers, and because of shipping time from Germany, Anderson said the trolley would not be operational for a few months. Until then, Anderson said there are plenty of train models at the Wilmington Railroad Museum. 

For information about the railroad museum, visit,  and for information about the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, visit  


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