2017-07-20 / Front Page

Free trolley tours offer glimpse into storied past of Jamestown


Hop on board a trolley this Saturday and learn little-known facts about Jamestown’s past. Hop on board a trolley this Saturday and learn little-known facts about Jamestown’s past. Who is Joseph Wharton?

What was the Indian trail in the 1400s?

Where did Captain Kidd stash his treasure?

These questions and more will be answered during three trolley tours through town, from East Ferry up East Shore Road, north around Conanicut Point, down North Road and south to Beavertail Lighthouse. Jane Bentley, a lifelong resident, will be the face behind the secrets.

“I love doing this because I love Jamestown,” Bentley said. “You really get a feel for the island.”

Bentley is a board member of the Jamestown Historical Society, which is hosting the free excursions. A trolley from Viking Tours will take three one-hour trips Saturday, leaving from Veterans Memorial Square at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. There are no reservations. Bentley is encouraging visitors to arrive at East Ferry 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time since it is first come, first served.

When Bentley and her fellow historians offered these tours in 2015, they were a hit — every seat on every trip was filled. A former history teacher in town for 30 years, Bentley has dozens of anecdotes, stories and facts to share with newcomers and old-timers.

“I could do four-hour trips if I wanted,” she said.

Starting at East Ferry, Bentley will describe the three hotels that once loomed over the waterfront during the early 1900s. From there she will pinpoint nearly every significant era with every significant site, including Shoreby Hill, the 13 admirals, Dr. Minor of New Jersey, Horsehead, the seven schoolchildren of ’38, the mayor of St. Louis and the bargain center that sells, among other things, trash.

Bentley is excited to share her knowledge of Jamestown, especially to the town’s younger generation. When she hosted the tours in 2015, newly arrived military families told her the trips helped their children become accustomed to the unique culture.

“They learned so much about the island even before they started school,” Bentley said. “I’m really excited to interact with the kids.”

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