80th Anniversary Year for the World’s Oldest, Largest Historical Trolley Museum
The Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport has officially opened for the 2019 season. The Museum will be open from 10AM-5PM every weekend in May, and daily starting on Memorial Day. A year-long celebration is planned for the Seashore Trolley Museum this season as it turns 80. Founded in 1939, the trolley museum is the oldest historic transportation organization of its kind in the world and curates the largest streetcar collection.
The museum features a three-mile round trip on its heritage railway, a 330-unit collection of trolleys, buses and more transit history than you can absorb in one day. Seashore Trolley Museum offers attractions for every member of your family. The museum’s docents are only too glad to unravel the mysteries of the last century’s transit modes.
All of this activity began eighty years ago, when a group of Boston area college students visited Maine, to ride the dwindling number of streetcar lines. While enjoying an outing, they learned that The Biddeford and Saco Railroad had ordered replacement buses for its weary trolleys. One open-sided car, No. 31, was a favorite with the group. On the spot, they agreed to save the little car. In doing so, the college students made history.
This was the first time a non-company group saved a street railway or railroad car for historic purposes. Armed with this idea, other groups sprang up in New England and around the U.S. Today, this local rolling endeavor covers the country from coast to coast.
Over the years, Seashore Trolley Museum has added to its collection streetcars from Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and to Maine’s northernmost county – Aroostook. Besides rail cars, the collection includes diesel and gas buses. There are 19 electrically powered trackless trolleys, like those running around Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Its Canadian collection is the largest outside of that country. If you are not satisfied with a North American assortment, transit equipment from: Australia, France, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and New Zealand may be viewed or ridden.
Bostonians will enjoy refreshing their memories of familiar rapid transit cars. All four subway lines: Red, Green, Blue and Orange are represented. In fact, Seashore prides itself on displaying the comprehensive “Boston Collection” of trolleys, trains and buses. The oldest piece of equipment in the museum is a Suffolk County Sheriff’s prisoner wagon, circa 1830. Although it is not a passenger vehicle, it represents the omnibuses, which clattered over the Hub’s cobblestone streets, until horse cars arrived.
The birthday celebration weekend of July 5-8 will see hidden trolleys out in the sunshine for the first time in years. There will be other special activities taking place as well. For more information about the streetcar preservation movement, the Seashore Trolley Museum and its collection, as well as a calendar of events for the 2019 season, please visit www.trolleymuseum.org or contact 207-967-2800 x101.