Tucked away in the quaint coastal town of Kennebunkport Maine lies a remarkable history lesson waiting to be explored. The Seashore Trolley Museum is the world’s first and largest electric railway museum. This is an absolute must-visit for all transit enthusiasts and those searching for an educational adventure.
At the museum, you can take a journey through time as you delve into this impressive attraction and uncover how public transportation has shaped modern society over generations.
Now, let’s explore its origins, essential visitor information, and each of its exhibits. Then, consider paying a visit to this unforgettable destination.
About the Seashore Trolley Museum
At the Seashore Trolley Museum, visitors get to explore an incredible and unique collection of public transportation vehicles from all corners of the globe. From omnibuses to electric streetcars, buses, light rail cars, and rapid transit cars, it has something for everyone.
The museum doesn’t just hold these wonderful artifacts though. There are also three carhouses with pristinely restored trolleys. Plus, the special Restoration Shop gives everyone an insightful peek into how the staff maintains and restores these treasured pieces of history.
On top of that, you can experience a ride on a vintage trolley from the early 1900s on the heritage railroad. It truly is an enlightening and engaging experience.
Getting to the Seashore Trolley Museum
If you are coming to the museum from the Portland area, the drive is relatively straightforward and takes about 30 minutes. No matter where you’re coming from, though, driving is the ideal way to get to the Seashore Trolley Museum.
TIP: If you’re more than 30 minutes away, arrange lodging in Kennebunkport Maine to avoid a lengthy trip and to have a chance to explore the rest of this coastal town.
When you pull up to the museum, you will see ample parking and picnic areas. You should not have any trouble finding a place to park, and you may want to relax outside with a bite to eat if the weather is nice. Don’t forget to explore some of the outdoor areas around the museum as well.
Things to Know Before Visiting
Even though you might be excited to take advantage of everything this amazing museum has to offer, there are a few important points to keep in mind.
The Seashore Trolley Museum is open from May to December, rain or shine. It’s open on weekends during May, some weekdays and weekends from June to October, and the first two weekends of December. And, the trolleys depart on a regular schedule. Keep in mind that the hours may shift slightly for special events.
TIP: Get here early if you want to take full advantage of all that it offers. Tickets are available close to closing time, but don’t miss out on your chance for a truly unforgettable experience.
The museum is a very relaxed place and a dog-friendly destination. Well-behaved pets are welcome on the museum grounds and select streetcars and in buildings. However, they must be obedient.
If you decide to bring a dog, make sure that it is on a leash at all times. You should pay attention to special signs that could limit where you can take your furry friend too.
Seashore Trolley Museum Exhibits
There are plenty of exhibits to explore at the Seashore Trolley Museum. Take your time exploring everything so that you can see as much as possible.
Interpretive Railway and Atlantic Shore Line Railway
The Seashore Trolley Museum is a unique destination where guests can take an exciting journey through the past, and the main attraction is the Atlantic Shore Railway Line.
Discover the history of Maine’s second-largest electric interurban railway on this 1.5-mile interpretive ride that runs along a portion of the original route. You get to experience unlimited trips on authentically restored streetcars and travel back to an era before automobiles changed transportation forever.
Get a feel for what life was like in 1904 when this 87-mile-long electric railway was connecting Town House Square in Kennebunkport with City Square in Biddeford.
At the time, it was providing access to other destinations farther north — all while transforming economic and social development for farmers, workers, and families seeking leisure activities.
This exhibit gives you an opportunity to uncover how this revolutionary concept came to fruition, so hop aboard one of the amazing streetcars.
History in Motion
Take a trip back in time to explore the evolution of public transportation in Maine. This exhibit chronicles how trolleys and other transits revolutionized life for residents throughout the 1800s.
From early ferries and horse-drawn streetcars to electric streetcars, interurbans, and beyond, this interactive experience will show you how these modes of transport connected communities across the state.
The progressive change in transportation was powered by technological progressions and infrastructure developments. For example, Bangor Street Railways initiated Maine’s first electric streetcar in 1889.
It’s an intimate exploration of how electrical railways conquered the environment, shifted raw materials to manufacturing plants, and came back with finished products plus altered recreational activities.
Along with being an interesting look at our past, this exhibit provides insight into present-day issues surrounding public transit, such as economic growth and social life among the inhabitants of this region. So, jump on board so that you do not miss out.
State of the Art Cars
At the State of the Art Cars exhibit, you can take in the astonishing display of 1970s rapid transit cars that were built as part of the Urban Rapid Rail Vehicle and Systems Program.
This program was designed to make urban public transport more appealing, comfortable, dependable, secure, and cost-effective for commuters. On show are two remarkable SOACs that underwent rigorous testing before being toured all over America.
You will get a glimpse into just how far mass transit has come with features such as axles, propulsion systems, auxiliary energy sources, and HVAC systems, as well as stylish interiors. Discover what went into making public transportation truly convenient for city dwellers.
A Seat for Everyone: A Mobile Bus Exhibit
The Claudette Colvin exhibit tells the story of a brave 15-year-old African American girl taking a stand against racial injustice nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous act.
Featuring student artwork from King Middle School and the Maine College of Art, this powerful exhibit dives into buses as incubators for civil rights movements that propelled the desegregation struggle in America.
It serves as an important reminder to recognize equality and justice in our society today by honoring Claudette Colvin’s courage and selfless actions.
This is just a brief overview of some of the amazing exhibits that are on display at the Seashore Trolley Museum. During your visit, talk to some of the staff members or ask for a guide that can shed some more light on the exhibits you will see.
Prepare for Your Visit to the Seashore Trolley Museum
It’s time to make some memories and explore the wonders of the Seashore Trolley Museum. Located in beautiful Maine, this unique attraction is sure to leave you with a lasting impression.
With an extensive collection, interactive exhibits, and a stunning backdrop, it’s no wonder why this historical site has become such an iconic destination.
When visiting the area, spend some time exploring the local area because there are plenty of other sights worth seeing. Also, consider checking out culinary delights at one or several of the restaurants in Kennebunkport Maine.
So, start planning today to discover how public transit has shaped our lives throughout history at the Seashore Trolley Museum. You may even uncover something new about yourself along the way.