In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Maine Memory Network

Trolley Travel

Text by Greg Cook

Images from Maine Historical Society

Trolley travel in Maine began in the 1860s. Trolleys provided inexpensive, frequent transportation to small and large communities throughout the state. As Maine's first (and some might say best) mass transit system, trolleys were vital to the growth of tourism and industry because they connected rural areas with cities.

Trolleys were the cleanest and most efficient means of mass transit Maine has ever known. Originally powered by horse, and later hydroelectric plants, trolleys transported thousands of people for a nickel a head.

The urban growth that the trolley helped create eventually led to its very downfall. By the 1930s cities had grown beyond the limits of trolley lines. The development of faster, more efficient automobiles and busses finally made the trolley obsolete.