Monday, May 07, 2012

The Wonderful Shore Line Trolley Museum

For those of you that have not spent much time in the Northeast, the Shoreline Trolley Museum is a highly recommended destination.  I've gone many times and I plan to go many more.  I went yesterday for a couple of reasons.  I had an extremely bad week at work (it probably can't or won't get much worse than last week) and I needed a break.  I also went to commemorate a friend of mine.  The Shoreline museum was one of Jim Cohen's favorite spots in Connecticut.  He really wanted to go and work on the real trolley's not just the toys.  Unfortunately he never got to. 

I would very much like to do the same however it is a bit far from where I live.  I know for a fact that once I pass a certain age and my kids are well on their way to independence, they will be able to count on me as a volunteer.

This place is interesting for train people for a variety of reasons.  Next year will be the 100th year of operations for the line and that will make it the oldest continuous running trolley line in the United States.  No small feat.

The Shoreline also has some of the MOST beautiful cars and rolling stock in the world.  I'll post some additional pics after this post, this is just the initial post to get the topic rolling.  The museum is important for a number of reasons.  It is highly relevant today, probably more so then ever. 

Trolley's are low maintenance, comfortable, cheap and probably one of the best over land forms of transportation there is.  America drank the automaker/oil producer kool-aid long ago.  Cars are a part of our culture, no doubt.  However it only takes 5 minutes on one trolley ride to understand the immense value these vehicles offer.  They are gorgeous inside, reliable and are vastly more comfortable than any bus or car mass transit vehicle is today.

Sorry, I can't help myself with public service announcements.  The civic minded guy in me loves these things and wishes they were still available in every city.  We've just got so used to driving around.  Pay $4 plus per gallon of gas is making these look very attractive.

Let's move away from the civics lesson and talk about why they are important to train nuts.  The colors on prewar toy trains from Flyer, Lionel, Ives and so on were and are glorious.  Even 100 years later.  What you discover very quickly  is that these colors really did have prototypes.  The colors on real trolleys are every bit as engaging as are the trucks, the beautiful woodwork and the wonderful signage and controls throughout the vehicle.  The prototypes are as or more gorgeous than the toys. 

This isn't typically obvious in many areas of model railroading.  I've seen a Dash 8 in person and I've seen the toy.  Both are pretty neat but you don't walk away with any kind of awe and wonder.  A 90 to 100 year old trolley that still works and has the same wonderful colors as any classic car will have you trying to pull your jaw off the floor.  It is just that amazing.

And I did see some some rolling stock while I was there.  Why care about rolling stock?  Well because it looked distinctly like some of the Voltamp models I've seen out there as well.  Prototypes can be as interesting (if not more) than the toys.  And the ideas for layouts can really spring forth...

Try blowing up some of the pics (click on them).  I used a Panasonic Micro 4/3rds camera to shoot these with some pretty high definition.  I down sampled them to 1200 DPI for download speeds for everyone.  They should blow up quite well.  More coming...


The exhibit part of the museum has a neat area with some original Fontaine Fox trolley drawings and lore.  Check out the below.

This car is the same as the cars running in New Orleans now.  It actually did run on "Desire" street.  Hence the name "Streetcar Named Desire".  The inside is gorgeous and the ride was really fun. Some of the line is closed due to some destruction from Hurricane Irene (still).  However the ride on this trolley is wonderful and shouldn' be missed.

A prototype trolley truck.  They have a nice green patina.  Never have seen it on a model.

Love these chairs.  Solid wood and still comfortable.  Plus they flip around when the trolley reverses direction.  A bit more comfortable than the ripped plastic junk on mass transit today. 

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