With two light-rail lines now up and running and all the talk about streetcars returning to streets in Minneapolis in St. Paul, it might be interesting to look back to the days when rail was the premier way to travel about.

Historian John Diers, author of the books "Twin Cities by Trolley" and "St. Paul Union Depot," will speak from 9 to 11 Thursday as part of the summer morning seminar offered by the College of Continuing Educatin's LifeLong Learning program at the University of Minnesota.

For the first part of the 20th century, passenger trains and electric street cars carried thousands of people to and fro. Then came the car, freeways and buses that drove the trains off the street.

Diers, who grew up in the 1940s and 50s, saw first hand streetcars vanish from the two cities and some of the political and economic forces that caused it to happen.

He will address both topics and what is behind the resurgence of electric transit service during his talk called "From Rails to Rubber Tires: The Streetcar Era in the Twin Cities."

The cost is $50. To register call 612-624-4000 or online here.

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9 a.m. update: Rush hour wrap up

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