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The Connecticut Electric Railway Museum Trip and Visit 6/28/2015

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I arrived at the Connecticut Trolley Museum and parked in the parking lot.

Here is the sign outside the museum.

History of the Museum

The Connecticut Electric Railway Association, Inc. is the owner and operator of the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Founded in October 1940, it is the nation's oldest incorporated organization dedicated to the preservation of the trolley era.

As a non-profit institution, its educational and historical aim is the establishment of a full scale operating street and interurban railroad system with the appropriate accessory equipment and buildings, to recreate an important phase of New England's business and social life from 1890 to 1949.

A three-mile round trip streetcar ride with an educational narrative is provided to the museum's visitors during their visit. All work at the museum, except for one paid employee in the museum office, is done by volunteers. There are over 70 pieces or rail equipment owned by the museum, some of them dating as far back as 1869. This collection is made up of passenger and freight streetcars, elevated railway cars, interurban cars, service cars, locomotives (diesel and electric), passenger and freight railroad cars and other pieces of miscellaneous railway equipment.

All major buildings and the museum's center of operations are located on a 17-acre facility adjacent to State Route 140 in East Windsor. The right-of-way is a 3.2-mile portion of the Rockville branch of the Hartford & Springfield Street Railway Company. Void of all track, the property was purchased when the organization was formed in 1940. Over the years, the volunteers have been able to build not only 1.5 miles of track and the associated overhead wire for power distribution, but all of the yard and storage track, the power substation, the storage barns, and a restoration shop.

Our mission is to provide a historically accurate educational experience of the trolley era, through the interpretation, preservation, restoration, and operation of an electric railway.

Our Visit

We started looking around the outside of the museum.

New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad combine 2765 built by Osgood Bradley Car Company in 1908 and is used for hosting parties.

A look down the trolley route we will be riding.

The North Road station.

Long Island Railroad electric commuter coach 1153 built by American Car & Foundry in 1930, numbered as 4153.

The electric passenger train display out by the highway.

Canadian National Railway boxcab electric 6714, nee Canadian Northern 604, built by General Electric in 1917

Montreal Tramways 2600 built by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1923. These double-end cars were intended primarily for Bordeaux and Montreal Lines. It is interesting to note that the operation of the Tramway only became 100% single man operation in its last 12 months, with operation closing on August 30th, 1959. 2005 was acquired in 1959 by Mr. Donald G. Snelgrove for the museum, and arrived that same year.

New Orleans Public Service streetcar 836 built by Perley Thomas in 1922. It operated on the Prytania, Magazine, Freret, Claiborne, Jackson, Cemetaries Canel, Tulane, St. Charles, St. Claude, West End, Gentilly and Desire Lines. Her last duty for Public Service was November 1963 to May 29, 1964 on the Canal Line. Donated by New Orleans Public Service, Inc. through the efforts of our then treasurer Donald Snelgrove, Car 836 arrived on July 22, 1964 at Windsor Locks railroad yard, and was then trucked to the museum.

I went inside the Teresalee Bertinuson Visitor Center and picked up our tickets for our rides. We walked back out and boarded Montreal Tramways 2600 for the first trip of the morning. Now sit back, relax and enjoy a ride down the rails at the Connecticut Trolley Museum.

We have reached the end of operational track at the Connecticut Railroad Museum.

We would now return to the museum grounds.

Robin and I were now back at the museum and would look at the exhibits in the Teresalee Bertinuson Visitor Center.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway nine-bench open car 36 built by the J.G. Brill Company in 1895 for the Lynchburg Traction & Light Company located in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was subsequently sold to the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey where it operated until 1952. After closing of service in Wildwood that year, the car came to the trolley museum in 1952. She is one of only a very small handful of this type of car left in the world.


Cleveland Interurban Railroad streetcar 1201 built by G.C. Kuhlman Car Company in 1914.

Montreal Tramways 2056 streetcar built by the Wason Manufacturing Company in 1927 as Springfield (Massachuetts) Street Railway 575. These lightweights were the last trolleys to see service in Springfield. After trolley service ended on June 22, 1940, the lightweights were sold to G.T. Abel & Company and subsequently 39 of the cars were sold to Montreal Tramways. The last of the 39 cars, 585, was shipped to Montreal on January 31, 1941. The remaining Springfield cars were sold to Virginia Railway & Power for use in Norfolk, Virginia. In Montreal, modifications were made to some of the Springfield cars once they arrived. 575 was re-numbered 2056 and the most noticeable modification was the lengthening of both front and back vestibules by 20 inches. The motorman's position was moved from the center to the left side in each vestibule and the left-side treadle doors were reduced from double bi-folds down to a single bi-fold door. Electrical connections at the trolley boards were modified so that the car could not be run with both poles up on the wire. Not all ex-Springfield cars were modified in the way 2056, was as some were converted to single-end cars and the back vestibules were not lengthened.

The 35 HP motors limited the use of the ex-Springfield cars in Montreal since they were not powerful enough for the cars to meet schedules on the steep grades of the Cote des Neiges and Westmont Boulevard lines. With the cessation of trolley service in Montreal on August 30, 1959, 2056 and 2600 and crane W-1 were purchased by the Connecticut Trolley Museum and arrived later that year.

Connecticut Company 65 built by the Wason Manufacturing Company in 1906. The car was to be used on the line from Norwich to Putnam, Connecticut working out of the Dayville Car House. The body was shipped on January 6, 1907 to Connecticut on a flat car, which saved taxes since it did not have electric equipment installed. At the Dayville Car House it was then equipped with all the necessary electrical equipment. It was painted in a most handsome dark red finish, and the "Consolidated" name was in gold on each side.

In 1907, the Consolidated Railway became the Connecticut Company. The 39 mile Norwich (Franklin Square) to Putnam railroad station trolley route was cut and the tracks from Moosup to West Thompson abandoned in 1925. Car 65, now in Connecticut Company yellow and still with its same number, was moved to the Hartford Division. Her regular service run in Hartford was the Franklin Avenue to Windsor route, but ran many "fan" charters over all the city lines and out to the towns around Hartford. Some changes were made while she worked in Hartford including seats losing their plush and becoming cane-covered. Her last passenger run for the Connecticut Company carried Connecticut Electric Railway Association members on a tour of Hartford including Wethersfield, Connecticut on Sunday May 4, 1941.

The car was then stored in the Wethersfield Avenue Car House, awaiting approval of General Manager R.J. Bennett's request to the Connecticut Company Board of Directors for permission to donate the car to the Connecticut Electric Ralway Association for a new trolley museum for historical preservation. At last, on August 28, 1941, the car body was placed on a trailer-truck for the move to the East Windsor museum site. The trucks were moved to the site on a second and third load on August 29, 1941 and the car was reassembled.

Over the years, car 65 has escaped the fate of most streetcars being scrapped. The first time was in 1925 with the move from Norwich to Hartford. The second time was the move to the Connecticut Electric Railway from Hartford in 1941 and the third time was during World War II when "scrap hounds" wanted to help the war effort. Roger Borrup had to go to the War Production Board to prevent the destruction of 65. Unfortunately, the trolley museum's former Springfield & Hartford steel bridge across the Scantic River was stolen for scrap during that time.

Unknown railroad passenger car.

Springfield Electric Railway streetcar 10 built by the Wason Manufacturing Company in 1901. It operated from Adnabrown Hotel in the center of Springfield to the Boston & Maine Railroad station in Charlestown, New Hampshire, following the Black River to the Connecticut River, crossing the latter on a company toll bridge.

In autumn 1908 the Springfield Electric Railway had a major barn fire which destroyed many items of equipment and damaged 10 to the point that she was returned to her manufacturer to be rebuilt. Car 10 carried mail and small freight to meet all B&M trains each day and this rail service played an important role in allowing many area young men and some women to leave and pursue higher education to make their way in the world, later to return on holidays or to just visit and "show off" new families. Many made their last return and final trip in caskets.

During World War I the Springfield Electric Railway went into receivership and in 1921 was reorganized as the Springfield Terminal Railroad, which would later become part of the B&M. After World War II, the Springfield Terminal was to convert to diesel operation. However, on February 23, 1941, a charter trip was made by the Connecticut Valley Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, and founders of the Connecticut Electric Railway Association to ride car 10 over the system. Plans were then started to bring the car to the trolley museum and was added as the second car to the Museum roster in 1947.

Museum scenes.

Ponemah Mills 1386 steeple cab switcher built by General Electric Company in 1894.

New York, Ontario & Western wooden bobber caboose 8146 built by the railroad in 1883. The museum acquired it in 2009 from Trolleyville when that museum became defunct.

Museum view. Now to look around the inside of this museum.

Great exhibits in this museum.

The old-time ticket taking booth.

Click here for Part 2 of this story!