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Trolley Travel

This Exhibit Contains 10 Items


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Item 6019

Portland Railroad Company car, 1920

Portland Railroad Company car, 1920 / Maine Historical Society

The state's first horse-drawn trolley line began in Portland in 1863.

 

Item 6022

Horse-drawn trolley, Portland, ca. 1890

Horse-drawn trolley, Portland, ca. 1890 / Maine Historical Society

Before long, horsecar lines sprang up in communities all over the state.

However, the range and speed of horses made connecting areas more than a few miles apart difficult.

 

Item 6018

Bangor Railway & Electric Co. No. 76

Bangor Railway & Electric Co. No. 76 / Maine Historical Society

In 1889, Bangor Railway and Electric opened the state's first electric line. Electric trolley lines were slowly adopted statewide, despite the fact that many lines in the state measured several miles or less in length.

 

Item 1516

Bangor St. Railway power station, Milford, ca. 1930

Bangor St. Railway power station, Milford, ca. 1930 / Maine Historical Society

In the late 19th century hydroelectric plants served many Maine towns. Most were small, isolated and locally controlled. These companies made much of their income from operating trolleys, which they often underwrote as well.

 

Item 1216

Knightville Square, South Portland, ca. 1924

Knightville Square, South Portland, ca. 1924 / Maine Historical Society

By the turn of the century all horsecar lines but one had been converted to electric. The exception was the Fryeburg Horse Railroad, which until 1913 remained horse-drawn.

For nearly twenty-five years it served a three-mile route, and although permission to electrify the line was granted, the railroad's income was too small for such an undertaking.

 

Item 1212

No. 2 Westbrook, Windham & Naples Railway.

No. 2 Westbrook, Windham & Naples Railway. / Maine Historical Society

There were a number of short trolley lines built throughout northern Maine. These included the Calais Street Railway, the Norway and Paris Street Railway, and the Somerset Traction Company.

None were more than 15 miles in length, and several operated independently without ever connecting to the state's larger trolley systems.

 

Item 196

Main Street, Bangor, 1901

Main Street, Bangor, 1901 / Maine Historical Society

Maine became known for its four major electrified trolley systems - the Atlantic Shore Railway, Portland Railroad, Bangor Railway & Electric, and the Lewiston, Waterville and Augusta Street Railway.

These systems linked together to connect Maine from the Kennebec Valley to Kittery, then on to Boston and New York City.

 

Item 6021

Portland Railroad company car, 1902

Portland Railroad company car, 1902 / Maine Historical Society

After Maine became connected to major cities, trolley companies capitalized on tourism by building large casinos just outside the cities they served.

The Portland Railroad Company, for example, built the Riverton Park Casino which prospered for over 20 years.

 

Item 6016

Bangor Hydroelectric #20 street railway, 1939

Bangor Hydroelectric #20 street railway, 1939 / Maine Historical Society

By the 1930s reliance on trolley travel was fading. Roads spread out beyond the limits of trolley lines and connected nearly every part of the state.

Automobiles were more available and affordable than ever before. Buses became a more viable means of mass transit, replacing trolleys on their former routes.

 

Item 6017

Westland Avenue Turnout, 1938

Westland Avenue Turnout, 1938 / Maine Historical Society

Bibliography:
Churchill, Eastman, Judd, eds. Maine: The Pine Tree State From Prehistory to Present.
Orono, University of Maine Press, 1995. 440, 474-475.
Cummings, O.R. "Toonervilles of Maine, The Pine Tree State." 1955.
Cummings, O.R. "Transportation Volume 11: Portland Railroad Volume I, Historical
Development and Operations." April 1957
Cummings, O.R. "Transportation Volume 12: Portland Railroad Volume II, Rolling
Stock, Car Houses, Power Supply." January 1959

 

 

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