Steel Trolley Diner
My recent solo mini-road trip of Ohio started off only having one destination—the Achor Valley Cemetery—but quickly evolved into a whole day trip. It was only noon when I finished exploring Achor Valley, I had no other plans for the day and free use of my dad's car. I was having fun driving through rural Ohio with the windows down and the radio up (no iPod connections in the old, Oldsmobile) and I was eager to see as much as I could.
After Achor Valley I decided to go to Sugarcreek, nearly two hours west. I opted for the scenic route through back roads rather than highways, and Google maps took me right through Lisbon, Ohio. Lisbon is a tiny town in Eastern Ohio (in 2010 the population was 2,821)—it was the home of the first Ohio newspaper, hosts a music festival dedicated to the Appalachian dulcimer and is the name of an instrumental Bon Iver song. It is also the home of the Steel Trolley Diner, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was the perfect place to stop for lunch.
The Steel Trolley Diner was built In 1954 in Elizabeth, New Jersey by the Jerry O'Mahoney Company, one of the largest diner manufacturers in the US. In 1955 it was moved to Salem, Ohio where it operated for 24 years as Aldom's Diner and in 1979, the diner was moved again to it's current location in Lisbon.
The Steel Trolley diner is just that—a steel dining car—and the interior has everything I look for in a classic diner. I sat at the counter since I was alone, which is my favorite way to experience a diner. I texted my dad to let him know where I was, and he responded that he had eaten here twice and added "I think they use cheap ground beef!" so I ordered a hot dog. It had horsey mayo (is this an Ohio thing??), mustard and sriracha and it was delicious—when I took a photo, the cook turned around and said "It sure is a nice looking hot dog, isn't it?"
This type of diner is nearly extinct in New York City, but they're also endangered in small towns like this—depressed rust belt towns that are rapidly losing their populations to bigger cities and drug overdoses—but I'm glad that the Steel Trolley Diner is still serving baskets of real fries, hot dogs and questionable ground beef 24 hours a day.