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The Seashore Trolley Museum, located in Kennebunkportmarker, Mainemarker, United Statesmarker, is the world's oldest and largest museum of mass transit vehicles.

An open car from Connecticut, part of the museum's "National Collection" of historic streetcars.


While the main focus of the collection is trolley cars, it also includes rapid transit trains, trolley buses, and motor buses.

The Seashore Trolley Museum is a non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.

History

The events that led to the formation of the museum started in 1939, when a group of railfans learned that the Biddeford and Saco Railroad was purchasing motor buses to replace its fleet of trolley cars. More and more trolley companies were doing this as the technology of buses had developed to the point that they were reliable and economical.

The railfans decided to find out if they could purchase a trolley to preserve it for posterity. The railroad was willing to sell them a car (#31, a 12 bench open trolley) for $150. However, it would have to be moved to another location due to local ordinances that prohibited retired trolleys from being used as houses, even though this was not the railfans' intention.

A plot of land, part of a farm, was rented on Log Cabin Road in Kennebunkportmarker, and the trolley was moved to it.

Theodore Santarelli was one of the founders and the true father of the museum. He graduated from Harvard University and led the museum till he died in 1987.

At about the same time, another group of railfans purchased a trolley from the Manchester and Nashua Street Railway. The two groups merged, and the Nashua trolley was brought to the Log Cabin Road site.

World War II caused the museum to be put on hold as many members served in the armed forces for the duration. This also brought about a temporary revival of trolley services in many cities, as rubber and gasoline were rationed for the war effort.

After the war, conversion of trolley lines to buses resumed, and created a period of rapid growth for the museum's collection.

In the 1950s, a diesel-powered electric generator was used to allow the cars to move under their own power. Car 31 was moved into a small building so that it could be repaired and restored.

As of 2005, the museum has over 200 vehicles. While most are from New Englandmarker and other areas of the United Statesmarker, trolleys from Canadamarker, Australia, Japanmarker, Germanymarker, Hungarymarker, Englandmarker, Italymarker, and several other countries are also in the collection. Ironically, one of the motor buses the museum owns is Biddeford and Saco #31, the bus that replaced trolley #31 in 1939. The bus was donated to the museum by the bus company.

Exhibits

The main building at the museum, the Visitor's Center, combines a ticket booth, a store, a snack bar, and an exhibit room with trolley related artifacts.

The trolleys that have been restored to operating condition are shown in three carbarns. There is a restoration shop with an elevated observation gallery so visitors can see how the vehicles are maintained and restored. Storage barns and tracks not accessible to the public contain vehicles that are awaiting restoration.

Restored trolleys are used on the museum's demonstration railway, which follows the route of the Atlantic Shore Line, a trolley line that ran on the current museum property and connected Kennebunkportmarker to York Beachmarker. Since the line was abandoned in the 1920s, museum volunteers have rebuilt a mile and a half from scratch. Seashore owns the right of way to Biddefordmarker which is about five miles from the Visitor's Center. On the demonstration route, they take you the mile and a half to Talbot Park (which is a loop to turn around the trolleys) and come back to the Visitor's Center.

The Collection of National Streetcars is what the museum is known for, but they also have international cars from Budapest, Berlin, London, Nagasaki, Sydney, Blackpool, and more.

The museum is seeking to raise funds to build a new car house and library. Also the trolley bus line will be extended.

See also



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