A visit to the Seashore Trolley Museum

Posted by Rene Schweitzer
on Friday, August 26, 2016

As part of my trip to Maine, my friend suggested visiting the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, which is not far from her house. I admit I wasn't expecting much and nearly didn't visit, but the visit turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. 

The museum has a long history, starting in 1939 with the purchase of the Biddeford & Saco open car #31. They have more than 250 transit vehicles, some from as far away as Germany and Switzerland, even Australia! According to their website, they are the oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world. I encourage you to visit their website. It has plenty of photos, historical photos, more about their history, and even downloadable PDF newsletters, all for free. They are open primarily in the summer, but host special events into the fall like their pumpkin ride.

Welcome sign

For a $10 admission fee, you can self tour the grounds and take as many excursion rides as you like (they run every 45 minutes). The grounds have several car barns and a restoration barn, which you can walk inside and see what is being restored. They have a giant paint booth with windows so you can see the in-process work of any given piece.

I started my visit with the indoor exhibit.

A collection of tickets.

Several cars are open for walking through. I've been to several railroad museums, and sadly, many have their equipment packed in barns so tightly that it's hard to get a photo. I was pleased that most items were not difficult to photograph. A pleasant surprise was seeing a Milwaukee Road boxcar. I asked a volunteer how or when it arrived there, but that story has been lost to history.

The excursion line was about 1.5 miles long. I knew little about electric transit vehicles, and was initially disappointed that the trip started with no narration. However, at the end of the ride, we then stopped at several points along the line and learned about the museum and its equipment. The ride was pleasant and, if it were longer, I could see myself being lulled to sleep by the rocking motion of the trolley.

There are two pieces I could not identify and that did not have signage near them. Perhaps one of our readers could help? The photos are the last two in this post.

If you are in Maine, I urge you to make a stop at this museum. They are doing great work there. Bring the kids/grandkids and family--they welcome all ages.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge and ENJOY!


Seashore Trolley Museum wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seashore_Trolley_Museum

The museum's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/neerhs/

New England Electric Railway Historical Society: https://www.trolleymuseum.org/museum/neerhs.php

The trolley giving excursions the day I visited.

Sitting in the car. I love the vintage ads that were on display inside the car.

A view from the excursion line. Cars are awaiting restoration, covered with giant cloths.

One of several car barns on the grounds.

An Arundel Maine handcar

An overview of part of the grounds. The main museum building is on the left.

I was surprised to see this Milwaukee Road boxcar on display.

The museum has equipment from around the world, including this piece from Australia.

An unrestored German trolley.

This double-decker trolley was built in England and ran in Kennebunkport, Maine. I love the woodwork on the upper level.

This snowplow was from Canada. It was in the back part of the car barn and difficult to photograph.

The plow is still ready to clear the line!

The restoration barn had a large paint booth inside of it, with walkways and windows for the public to look into. Here is the current project.

Another view of the paint booth.

The museum had an impressive collection of buses as well as trolleys.

What is it? #1 This appears to be a fire extinguisher on wheels?

What is it? #2 An unrestored piece of equipment with no signage.

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