ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47)--If you are a stranger to the area or have never had the opportunity to get out and about the city of Rochester, “FOX in the Morning” found an old-fashioned way to get around town.
We were all aboard a shiny, red trolley, down at the Rochester Trolley and Tour Company. Nick Ozment, who is one of the conductors with the company, told us a little about how he got started driving a trolley. “The owner, Dan Butterfass, is a fellow poet, and we had both taught collegiate English. We met one evening, over four years ago, at an open-mic poetry reading. That's how we got to know each other. He shared with me how he was starting up this trolley business and I came on board,” explained Ozment.
Ozment, who is in his fourth year as driver and is also company trainer, described what is so special about riding a trolley; particularly in the city of Rochester. “It gives people a window into this amazing city. Of course, we have millions of people who come here from around the world. They want to find out how this clinic and the hospital came to be, here in this rural area of Minnesota: the so-called 'clinic that grew from the corn fields.' And so, we share that history, that story, as well as other stories, about how Rochester came to be. Even local folks who come on these tours will tell me: 'I never knew, I had no idea, I've lived here all my life.' They haven't seen some of these places or some may not realize how amazing a particular story may be. So, that's what we do with the daytime historical tour. We give people that narrative of Rochester,” Ozment said.
Though thousands may board one of four trolleys that run in the company's fleet, Ozment says there is an initial reaction to the looks of the vehicle itself. It's at the end, however, that Ozment says riders' smiles double in size. “The common reaction when they get on is regarding how neat the vehicle itself is. In a sense, the trolley is part of the attraction. But then, at the end of the tour, when they're getting off, the reaction is a new appreciation for the story; for what happened, all the amazing events and the amazing people that made this happen. And if they are local residents, I think they come away with a new sense of appreciation and pride or respect for their hometown; for the place where they live,” said Ozment.
All boarding times and types of tours are available on the Rochester Trolley and Tour Company website.