The Trolley to Yesterday

When the professor introduces Johnny and his friend Fergie to a talking falcon statue named Brewster and says they are going on a trip together, Johnny and Fergie are worried. But when the vehicle turns out to be a time trolley and the destination is Constantinople during the Turkish Invasion in 1453, Johnny and Fergie are convinced that the professor is insane.

But all too soon the professor proves that the time trolley is real. And as the Byzantine Empire prepares for battle, the professor gathers flares and a raft, planning to save the people who flee to the Church of the Holy Wisdom from being killed or enslaved. Can Johnny and Fergie stop the professor or will he too perish in the seige?

About the Book

This is the sixth book in the Johnny Dixon series.

John’s deep interest in ancient history comes to the forefront in this book, as Priscilla Bellairs notes John, like Professor Childermass, was “fascinated with the fall of Constantinople” and had a map of the ancient city pinned to a wall in his workspace. He was also intrigued “with the burning of the library at Alexandria […and…] owned a couple of beautiful medieval missal pages."

Brewster was not originally included in the cast of The Trolley to Yesterday. Brad Strickland notes that Bellairs' editor observed that there needed to be a way for the characters to communicate with the historical figures they visit in the past; Brewster was created to be, among other things, the universal translator.

Brad Strickland, writing in 1996, said that one of book proposals sent to his editor at Dial was for The Trail of the Time Trolley, a sequel to The Trolley to Yesterday in which Johnny and Fergie would visit the future - the world of the 1990's. The idea was nixed, Strickland says, partly because Trolley wasn't one of the editor's favorite books.

Pietro Mocenigo
Set sail with Admiral Piero Mocenigo.

Guardian of the Sunken Palace
The Guardian of the Sunken Palace sits and questions its underground visitors.

Rhegium, Italy
Can you tell me how to get to Rhegium, Italy?

Constantinople Seige
You can't go back to Constantinople - so they say.


Johnny Dixon
Byron "Fergie" Ferguson
Roderick Childermass
Charles Coote
Aurelian Townsend


Turkish soldiers


Duston Heights, Massachussets


Time Trolley

"The professor rowed, and the little boat nosed in and out past the tall, gloomy pillars. The torch that Fergie held went on flickering, and they steered in the direction of the draft. Soon the professor's cheerful humming died, and every now and then he put down the oars and held a wet finger up in the air to see if he could tell where the draft was coming from. Then he would pick up the oars and row grimly on. Johnny noticed that Fergie's torch was burning straight up -- it wasn't wavering at all.

"Professor?" he asked in a tiny faltering voice. "How . . . how come the draft isn't blowing anymore?"

"I don't know," muttered the professor through clenched teeth. "There is something very odd going on in this place, but I don't know what. . ."

The professor's voice died. Out of the darkness straight ahead of them, a boat was drifting. It looked just like the one they were in, but it was empty. Or was it? The boat moved closer, and now it was alongside them. Johnny, Fergie, and the profesor looked. There were three bodies lying slumped in the other boat. The bodies looked like the three of them, pale and cold and dead.