Thursday, July 2, 2015

Visit to Seashore

 Kennebunkport, Maine is a tourist destination for several reasons, but the one we'll focus on today is the Seashore Trolley Museum, the nation's oldest and largest.  It was founded in 1938 by a group of railfans who decided to preserve a local open car, Biddeford and Saco #31.  Since then more than 200 electric cars have been acquired.  This car had badly deteriorated before a complete restoration was done about 1975.

The museum has a nice visitor's building, which serves as the entrance, ticket booth, gift shop, and has some displays.  And of course they sell Moxie.

This is essentially how we want the Schroeder Store to function until our own visitor's center is built.

Seashore's collection policy has a national focus, and among other things there is a substantial Chicago Collection.  I met Eric Gilman, a regular worker there, who showed us one of the current major projects in the shop: restoration of North Shore car 755, a Standard Steel coach of the same series as our 757. 

It was sitting outside under a tree while being worked on.  The car is complete and operable, but needs a complete cosmetic restoration.

Much of this will look familiar to those who worked on the 749 for so many years.

Eric plans to be at the ARM convention this fall, and wants to look at the 251 in greater detail.   I told him what I could remember of the process used to paint the Silverliner scheme back in 1978 or so.

Seashore, of course, does excellent restoration work.  Here's CA&E car 434, which was finished back about 2000.  

Incidentally, many of these cars are open for visitors to walk through without supervision.  They don't seem to have the same problems with theft and vandalism that we have had.

And here is CSL 225, a Pullman like our 144 and 460.   It operates occasionally. 

Cleveland center-entrance car 1227 is the same type as our 1218 recently acquired from the Brookins collection.

The barns are named after the shops of various electric lines around the country.

This is the City of Manchester, a party car built in 1898 by Briggs Carriage and restored by Seashore from a decrepit wreck.  It operates occasionally.

Now they are engaged in producing a replica of this car for a private owner, who wants it to get from his house to his boat dock 500' away.  The body is being made by a boat builder in upper Maine, and Seashore is providing the floor, the truck, and the mechanical parts.  Eric reports that since this picture was taken two weeks ago, the truck has been almost finished and they test-ran it using a welder.  Nice work if you can get it!

On the day we were there, a good-sized crowd from Washington were visiting Seashore as part of a general tour of Maine.  It helps to be in a nice tourist area.

Four cars were running (on a Thursday) at various times during the day, including this Connecticut open.

Another was this classic Cincannati curve-side car.  I think maybe this is the only one that has been restored to operating condition.

There's a lot more to the collection.  The less photogenic parts are off-limits to the public, and we've covered those before.

And there are buildings.  This was a dispatcher's tower on the Boston Elevated.  In 1976 it was lifted off the structure by a large crane, swung over and onto a barge waiting below in the Charles River, and transported up to Maine.  I was in Boston at the time and able to watch the process.  Now how they got it from the harbor to the museum property five miles away I couldn't say.

I have more pictures, but that's enough for now. 


Anonymous said...

Seashore is a gem of a museum; but they need to follow IRM's lead and build more car barns to get their collection out of the severe Maine winters. I was there for their 75th anniversary celebration last September. And it is no hardship spending time in Maine!

i hope the rest of your trip was a success!

Ted Miles, IRM Member also Seashore Trolley Museum

Anonymous said...

Hi Randy,

It's been several years since I've been to Seashore. Two questions: Is the NSL #420 still in good condition? And were you able to find tavern-lounge #415? It was a challenge getting to it the last time I was there, and very depressing.

Dan Buck

Anonymous said...

Hopeffully, ther will be a second Cincinnati curved-side car in operation in a year or so. Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is well along on the restoration of
West Penn 832.

Art Schwartz