Trolleys are an important part of the past in a variety of different ways, including being involved in some significant social history. Visiting the Seashore Trolley Museum allows guests to literally walk directly into that past and learn all about the many ways that public transportation has influenced society. Founded in 1939 in Kennebunkport, Maine, the collection and museum has grown from just a single car (Car 31) to a collection of many, as well as a visitor center, a restoration shop, a satellite location and a working car that guests can ride on for free.
Existing as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the mission is to share the way the past and the present are connected through public transportation and helping to preserve and repair not only knowledge but also the actual streetcars themselves. The museum is always interested in expanding its collection and is also always looking for docents and tour guides with a passion for the history of the trolley to help lead other guests through the past.
The museum offers many permanent exhibits to provide a complete history of trolleys.
1.History in Motion - This exhibit displays how public transportation has connected Maine and influenced the lives of the people in the area. With an emphasis on trolleys as well as electric railways, visitors will learn about how this form of transportation came to be and how it has changed over the years.
2.Interpretive Railway - Nothing is better than an interactive museum, and this one guests can actually ride on! This 1.5-mile experience on the Atlantic Shore Line, which was one of the first electric trolley lines and the second largest “interurban” railway in Maine, was built in the early 1900s. Guests can ride on it as many times as they would like as this attraction is free of charge. Literally step onto history!
3.State of the Art Cars - Learn about all the innovations that have been made to the trolley car since its invention and hear about the Urban Rapid Rail Vehicle & Systems Program, whose main goal is to work towards further innovations. Featuring two SOAC (or state of the art cars), this exhibit discusses innovations like auxiliary power systems, HVAC systems, propulsion systems, and interior design.
4.Civil Rights Movement - Step inside Washington DC Bus # 6481, an enormous turning point in the Civil Rights movement. Learn about the history of the movement and how public transportation (as well as Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin) impacted change. With panels created by students from local middle schools and colleges, this permanent exhibit is bound to have an impact.
5.Restoration Shop - From inside the Town House, guests can view restorations while they are in progress. See some incredible transformations as they happen! Run with volunteers and funded by supporters, many trolleys have passed through this building. The name is inspired by local trolley history as well.
6.Locomotive - View the Atlantic Shore Line 100, which still moves around (although not as much as it used to and only with assistance. Check with the museum to make sure where it is located before the visit) and has been restored with historic accuracy.
Teachers should consider bringing their students into the trolley museum to experience history for themselves. Offering guided tours as well as a ride on an actual antique streetcar, students will be able to learn while seeing their subject with their own eyes. Lasting about two hours and meant for students of all ages, teachers are encouraged to visit the website ahead of time for educational materials and bridging documents that can be used to tie into their classroom experience (includes social studies, language arts, science, technology, and social studies).
It also helps guide teachers to format their classroom and field trip experiences to hit any educational benchmarks needed. Tours run from May through October between 9:30am and 2pm on weekdays. The cost is updated on the website, and the bus driver and teacher will both receive complimentary admission to the museum. Additional admission can be purchased either ahead of time or on site.
Visit the trolley museum gift shop to complete any visit to the Seashore! Featuring many of the common gift shop expectations - clothing, books, toys, models and DVDs can all be purchased to commemorate the visit. Check out the bottle openers, unique food items (mustard, etc.) and flasks, all with a historic and trolley related flair.
Seashore Trolley Museum, 195 Log Cabin Road, Kennebunkport, ME, 04046, Phone: 207-967-2712