Saturday, October 15, 2016

Transit Day!

Wow...I had never been to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, before, so that in itself was an amazing experience. But coming there on Transit Day, the annual event where the museum actually runs much of its collection, was even more amazing! Here's the full report on the event.

The old Northampton EL station at the entrance.
The entrance fee to the event was $10, which was incredibly reasonable. My friends Sam, Jordan, and John Arico (who thankfully gave us a ride from NH) arrived slightly after opening, paying our fees and getting nice admissions reminiscent of old 1800s train tickets. First we looked at the gift shop for a bit, which offered model trains, books, and other memorabilia.

The station at the Visitor's Center.
Outside of the Visitor's Center, the main attraction was a loop for trolleys. This is where all of the streetcars boarded to give people rides. There was also a picnic area, and several sandwiches and snacks were on offer nearby.

A New York car passing through the subway boarding area.
Normally passengers can't ride Seashore's rapid transit cars or buses, but both operate on Transit Day. The rapid transit boarding area is a simple wooden staircase, while buses loaded up at a dirt loop across the rapid transit tracks. I'll be discussing all these trips later, but for now, let's look at some old vehicles!

I'm sure many of you guys will recognize this one!
Yes, let's start with 4028, one of the MBTA's old Flyer trackless trolleys. These started getting phased out in 2004, but they entered service in 1976, so they're still quite old! Seashore has a few of them, but 4028 is in the best condition, I believe. It was high floor, with mostly double forward-facing seats. I loved the folding doors and rear window! Plus, they kept the old ads up, including a trolley map that didn't include the 72, for some reason.

An old MBTA work vehicle.
A Flyer signed as the 65, but what the heck is that paint scheme?
A Pullman, formerly a trackless trolley.
Looking inside.
Woah!
Yes, the next point of interest on our little tour were these State of the Art Cars, manufactured by USDOT and marketed for a few US cities. They were meant to be the new standard in rapid transit, but no one wanted them! Unfortunately people weren't allowed inside, but we could see into one of the cars - it had tables and forward-facing seats, as it was designed for long distance service. The other car had different seat combinations and was more meant for short trips. Imagine one of these operating in Boston!

An AM General United Airlines shuttle.
Awww, yeah, it's the mock-up Type 6!
What a strange map.
Yes, it's the mock-up Green Line Type 6 car! This was a scheme by the MBTA to create its own streetcar to replace the PCC, and its one and only mock-up is now at Seashore. It feels pretty wide for a Green Line car, which might be because one set of seats faces sideways. Unfortunately, the cost of mass-producing these vehicles was too high, so the MBTA had to look for outside manufacturers; this led to the Boeing LRVs replacing the PCCs instead.

Morrison Hill Station.
Next, we walked over to Morrison Hill Station, which light rail trips stop at. Its shelter is from an old interurban rail station in Maine, and it's very quaint. The station serves the nearby carbarn, as well as the restoration shop, which we were unfortunately unable to visit. Morrison Hill is also a great place for train pictures!

An MBTA Type 5 coming around the bend!
A John Stephenson car from New Haven.
That's a Swiss trackless trolley on the right, while I'm sure everyone knows what's on the left!
An MBTA "Fishbowl" bus.
A few different vehicles in a corner. 
Now this one is awesome - an articulated Twin Coach bus from Omaha!
Another artic, this one made by General Motors and hailing from Ottawa.
A work car from Claremont, NH.
After this little tour, we headed back to the Visitor's Center, where trolleys were starting to line up for rides. I was immediately drawn to 1227, a center-entrance car from Cleveland. Why was I drawn to it? Well, one of its destinations was "Miles Ave"! But anyway, the inside was quite nice too, particularly the seating.

The front of the car.
The inside, looking toward the front...
...and toward the back. Those seats were so comfy!
Unfortunately, problems with 1227 led to the train being sent out of service, which was a bit of a process. While that happened, we went and watched some rapid transit movements that were being made. It allowed for some fun comparison shots.

Boston vs. New York!
Boston vs. New York again!
New York vs...uh, New York, I guess.
When we got back to the Visitor's Center, we decided to take a ride on 303, a J.G. Brill car from New Haven. It was an open trolley, so we figured we'd get a nice breeze as we headed down the track. I can't imagine one of these being in service now, though - what happened when it got crowded??

The trolley at the Visitor's Center loop.
The inside.
From the Visitor's Center, the tracks head up through the facility and soon arrive at Morrison Hill Station. From there, we went alongside the carbarn and then over a level crossing with a dirt road. There were more trolleys and random parts visible on either side, as well as the MBTA's old fire bus hanging out in a clearing.

Heading around the loop.
Really old Blue Line cars!
Another yard view.
Not the best fire bus picture, but we'll get back to it.
From there, it became pure scenic as we went through the fall woods. We passed a station used for Seashore's Pumpkin Patch Trolley, and then the track was basically just straight with no stops. Finally, we reached Talbot Park, the "station" at the end of the line. It's basically just a turnaround loop with a small platform, and we just headed back to the Visitor's Center.

Meserve's Crossing! That's the pumpkin patch station!
Going under some telephone wires.
Some wrapped-up streetcars near Talbot Park.
A marsh on the way back.
However, we set off again almost right after getting back, as they were doing a run on a New York Redbird! There was also an R-22 train in the two-car set that was apparently used in the movie "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three", but I think most passengers cared about that Redbird. The inside was surprisingly similar to other New York cars still in service, but it had some awesome ads and neat maps.

The train at the platform.
The inside of the R-22...
...and the inside of the Redbird!
Once we got out to Talbot Park, an odd transfer procedure occurred: the set of Hawker-Siddeley Blue Line cars came up to us and passengers walked from one to the other! Now, I'm sure many of you know what these Blue Line cars look like on the inside - they were around until 2009 when the new Siemens cars fully entered service. For those who don't know, it was basically like a smaller Orange Line train.

The empty train (once everyone had gotten off). 
We did some more walking around after that; here's the Redbird again.
An old Elevated car for the Orange Line!
That weird open car was for sightseeing through Montreal!
The other train in the Elevated set, this one a work car.
I decided to take a ride on the Main Line Elevated train out to Talbot Park, and it was pretty sparse on the inside. The poles were all rusting, and the walls were a rather ugly shade of green. The train had certainly seen better days, but it was an awesome ride regardless!

The inside of the train.
*gasp* The CONTROLS!
Once I got back, we all heard that they were going to send a cavalcade of trains down the main line. They were running buses to the point where the trains would pass, so we hopped onto an old CT Transit vehicle to head out there. It doesn't appear on the Seashore website, for some reason, but it was another GM Fishbowl.

The front of the bus...
..and the back (with an old school bus in front of it).
The inside.
Looking toward the front.
The "route" was a simple dirt road snaking through the museum. It traversed the perimeter of a bunch of different car barns, showing off just how huge their collection is. Eventually, we arrived at the "stop" near the point where the trains would be going by, but we had a bit of time before they would head out, so we explored some of the buses out here.

Some buses.
Some more buses!
A bus from DC.
Ouch...that vehicle's certainly seen better days.
Oh dear...
Some old parts on the ground, with more sad-looking vehicles in the background.
Yikes!
Aha! Here's a bus in good condition! This is from Portland METRO.
The cozy inside.
A Fishbowl from Manchester, NH.
The inside.
The driver's seat!
The MBTA Fire Bus, only recently brought to Seashore.
The inside.
More people started to gather up, and eventually we all formed a "photo line". Every time a trolley or train came through, everyone would get quiet and the vehicle would rumble past. It was honestly quite magical - no sounds aside from the trains heading through the woods.

The New Haven trolley!
The MBTA Type 5!
The open New Haven trolley!
The Montreal observation car!
The Main Line El set!
The New York Redbird!
The Boston Blue Line cars!
Once all that photo line excitement was done, we headed back to the main area. This time, we rode a different Fishbowl, this one from Lewiston-Auburn, ME. I've never heard of either of those places, but apparently Lewiston is the second-largest city in the state, so...wow!

The back of the bus.
The inside.
Ummm...something tells me these aren't original seats...
The route the bus took back was a bit more woodsey.
Quite woodsey!
Upon return, Sam and I went to Morrison Hill to take pictures of the many trolleys coming back from Talbot Park. I have no idea how they were able to bring so many out there, but it was definitely a pain to turn them around. A lot of the cars were stuck out there for a while, including my friend Josh, who had arrived later in the day. He joined us at Morrison Hill once his car got back.

That old school bus kicking up a lot of dirt.
A North Shore Line car from Chicago.
A Bridge Car from what is now PATTCO.
The Blue Line train...from below.
The Redbird coming through.
The Main Line El train approaching.
The New Haven car.
The Type 5 heading toward the Visitor's Center.
The open New Haven car.
Man, that Montreal car looks epic!
After that, we walked around back to another North Shore Car from Chicago - this time a dining car. It was in surprisingly good condition, with some very comfy couches and a kitchen that looked functional! There was also a fantastic money shot from one of the windows of three MBTA rapid transit cars.

A SEPTA train.
The Chicago North Shore cars.
Pretty!
The kitchen.
AW YEAH THERE'S THAT MONEY SHOT!
The Blue Line Hawker-Siddeleys again.
The fire bus coming around the bend.
And again!
Another North Shore car going out for a ride.
Next, volunteer John Petillo took us on a tour of the Green Line Boeing car out at the entrance of the museum. These are pretty "new" as well (relative to the rest of the museum), having been retired from service as late as 2009. Honestly, the inside was basically the same thing as a pre-overhaul Type 7, but it was still neat to be in there!

Ah, the good ol' nonexistent M Line.
The inside.
The front.
The driving area!
And finally, John Arico gave us basically the best opportunity ever...Sam, Jordan, Josh, and I all got to drive a Blue Line train! Yes, after everyone else had left the museum, John (who's helped out at the museum for years), us, and a few other of his friends all got onto the Hawker-Siddeley cars and went out for a spin! Aside from a slight mishap involving someone putting in too much power (I won't say who it was, but it wasn't me!), it went perfectly. It was one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating experiences of my life, but hey, none of us crashed the train, so I guess we could all be Blue Line drivers if we wanted to!

Focusing on the track ahead! Credits for the pictures of me go to Sam.
You have to keep the handle down the whole time or else the train activates the emergency brake.
I managed to get the train up to 25 MPH, which was really exciting!
"Next stop, Bowdoin!"
And finally, the train at night. What an amazing day!

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