The Cole Land Transportation Museum, located in Bangor, Maine, is a great place for transportation enthusiasts of all ages to come learn about local history. See historic vehicles and hear about the story of Galen Cole and everything he helped bring to the region as well as transportation as a whole.
The museum opened to the public in 1989 as the long term project of Galen Cole, a local philanthropist and industrialist. The mission of the museum remains the same, to preserve vehicles, to teach about the people who used, maintained, and made them, and to help challenge and inspire children to achieve bigger goals in life. It continues to be a major local draw and is a perfect place for families to spend the day while also learning about the important history of the Cole family and land transportation in general. It also continues to garner 4 and 5 star ratings on social media and an abundance of glowing reviews from visitors,
The transportation museum features a variety of permanent exhibits.
- Farm Place
- Fire Engine Lane
- Motorcycles and Bicycles
- Snowplow Alley
Combined, these permanent exhibits help tell the story of the many different modes of transportation that have been used in the history of the state of Maine. Some of the highlights of the museum are:
- Station House: The former station house of the Railroad Company (Maine Central) is located inside the museum. This building was originally located in Ensfield and was transported to the transportation museum. It was the original structure that Cole’s father used to start his mail hauling business in 1917.
- Railroad and front cars: Both cars are from the Bangor and Aroostook engine, and visitors to the museum are able to come aboard and watch various taped videos with additional in-depth information about other exhibits located at the transportation museum.
- Blacksmith Shop: This exhibit, which was later transformed into a garage, housed Cole’s blacksmith business where he also shod his own horses. The building was originally located in East Lowell.
- Vehicles: The transportation museum is home to a collection of vintage cars, including the Ford Fairlane, Stanley Steamer, a Volkswagen, a Buick, a Ford Galaxie and an Oldsmobile 98 (which was Governor Joseph Brennan’s official vehicle from 1979-1987). It also showcases an original horse-drawn wagon, a prairie schooner (basically a smaller version of a covered wagon), early versions of the motorcycle, moped, bicycle, and a snowplow. There is also a snow roller (used in the winter in Maine) as well as tractors, potato harvesters, a hearse (which was drawn by horses), a bus, and multiple delivery trucks.
- Command car: There is a special room in the transportation museum for a World War Two command car. This car was actually used by Galen Cole himself during his tour as a young soldier. Located outside this room are other military vehicles from both World War Two as well as the Vietnam War.
The museum is open seasonal hours from the beginning of May through the middle of November every year. There is a small cost for admission, with discounted admission for seniors and AAA members and free admission for children under 19.
The transportation museum offers a variety of educational opportunities designed specifically for children.
Featured on the student section of their website is a variety of fun scavenger hunts meant to be printed out ahead of time and brought to the museum during a visit. Each of them offers a different view of the museum and includes fun items to find like a one horse pung, a corduroy road, and even a Texaco sign!
For teachers looking for field trip opportunities for their classroom, there is a form that can be filled out on the website to reserve space. Teachers can also call and speak with members of the staff for more information about the available tours (guided tours last up to an hour, or teachers can bring their classroom for unstructured time which is unlimited). There is also a packet that can be downloaded prior to visiting with tips for planning curriculum around the field trip and advice for how to make the most of the visit.
The museum also offers a small gift shop, which is located just next to the cashier window in the lobby. It offers a classic selection of gifts and souvenirs for every price point, from the cheap (postcards and pencils) to the more expensive (scale models of Cole trucks). Each purchase also serves to help support the museum in its mission to teach guests about the transportation history of Maine.
Cole Land Transportation Museum, 405 Perry Road, Bangor, ME, 04401, Phone: 207-990-3600