Silver Dollar City’s original parking lot trams, referred to as simply ‘the green trams’, became another sentimental piece of SDC nostalgia over their long years of service beginning from at least 1970 until 2009. The green trams must have seemed to be a garish departure from the world famous charm of SDC at first, but over the years they developed a distinct charm of their own that made them special to the city.
I seem to have no remaining photos of the green trams in my personal collection, but facebook users can check out this page for a few photos of the trams being decommissioned.
It’s tough to describe to those who never experienced the famous green trams why SDC nostalgics wax fondly on them whenever the topic arises. Perhaps it was the butane smell that many of us will now always associate with the excitement of starting a day at SDC. Perhaps it was the fun-loving conductors and drivers that made a ride on the trams feel almost as exciting as a ride on the train. Perhaps it was because they were in service to SDC so long that they too began to look and feel like something out of the 1880’s. In any case, the green trams had a unique, almost undefinable quality about them that has not yet been restored with SDC’s new fleet of larger white trams.
I have yet to nail down exactly when the green trams made their debut at SDC, but one guest mentioned to me that he remembers them being there in 1970. If anyone recalls exactly when they were introduced, please update me! The green trams were originally gasoline powered, but at some point were converted to run on butane to be more environmentally friendly, and perhaps more cost-effective at the time.
Of course, the green trams weren’t the only vehicles to service SDC’s parking lots over the years. For at least a couple decades the park also utilized open air buses that were styled to look like old fashioned trolleys. These trolleys primarily serviced the parking lots on the other side of the road which required travel up and down a steep slope that the green trams could not handle. For busy days when SDC satellite parking lots way down the road had to be used, the park utilized old school busses, which have now mostly been phased out in favor of modern and comfortable touring-style busses.
The green trams were ultimately forced to be done away with for a variety of reasons. They did not meet modern access requirements, the ceilings were too low and bumped many heads, and perhaps most importantly the engines simply weren’t powerful enough to climb the new grade of SDC’s expanded and reconfigured parking lot with its new tram route. Their replacements are a set of larger, more powerful white trams. The new trams are not as long and quaint, but they certainly do have a lot more room to spread out in, and they are marginally easier to handle for guests with access issues. I’m still not sure why the trolleys were also retired at this time, but the fleet of modern trams and busses seems to be able to handle the job adequately. At least one of the old green trams lives on in Harrison, AR as the ‘Harrison Goblins Tram’ which shuttles guests to the highschool football stadium.
Even though the nostalgia of the green trams has faded into memory, there’s still one aspect of SDC’s parking lot that still makes it unique and special among prominent theme parks: most of the parking is still FREE! Considering most Six Flags parks are now charging upwards of $20 just to park, SDC’s free parking and tram service certainly helps make it an even more attractive and affordable vacation destination.