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SLTM recipient of prestigious railroad preservation grant!

January 31, 2014


The Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, Inc. (“Mass Bay RRE”) announced on January 25, 2014 that the  Branford Electric Railway Association, Inc., of East Haven, Connecticut (“BERA”), is recipient of the 2014 H. Albert Webb Memorial Railroad Preservation Award. The $10,000 grant associated with the award will support rehabilitation of four traction motors in Union Street Railway RPO Car 302, which was undergoing a thorough and complete restoration prior to August 2011, when the storm surge from Hurricane Irene left the car’s trucks partially submerged in muddy salt water, rendering the traction motors nonfunctional. The Award funds will leverage additional funding from FEMA necessary to complete the project, an essential part of BERA’s larger Hurricane Motor Repair Program.

Car 302 Union Street Ry BERA 1950s small

Mass Bay RRE President David Brown of Andover, Mass., together with Mr. Webb, presented the 2014 Award to BERA (also known as the Shore Line Trolley Museum) on Saturday, January 25, 2014, during the Amherst Railway Society’s “Railroad Hobby Show” in West Springfield, Mass., the largest event of its kind in New England. Several previous recipients were present to be recognized for their ongoing preservation efforts throughout New England, and future applicants were encouraged to begin the process for the next selection cycle.

“We’re delighted to have been selected as this year’s Award recipient,” said BERA’s Director and Grants Manager Nathaniel Nietering. “The traction motor repair will be the final element of the restoration of RPO 302. The H. Albert Webb Memorial Railroad Preservation Award will be an important component to making this restored trolley RPO story a reality.”

Leigh A. Webb of Franklin, New Hampshire, donor of the award named for his late father, said, “As heartbreaking as it is when concerted efforts at preserving our storied rail history can be all but wiped out by a single, violent act of nature, it is at the same time reassuring that those efforts will only be slowed, not abandoned. It is with great pride that the H. Albert Memorial Railroad Preservation Award will be part of a continuing legacy at the Shore Line Trolley Museum, and extremely gratifying that the Award’s funds will be leveraged to attain even greater success.”

Number 302 is a Railway Post Office trolley car historically operated by the Union Street Ry. from the railroad station in Fall River, Massachusetts to the New Bedford post office and on to Wareham, with a connection to the Railway Mail Service network at Providence, RI. It stopped at all intermediate post offices along the line to pick up and deliver U.S. Mail in the 1920s and 30s. As the U.S. Postal Service was formalizing its structure in the era of the Civil War, railroads were rapidly becoming the dominant and fastest form of overland transport. The Railway Mail Service was developed to act as a broad and reliable way to move large volumes of mail from one town to the next and across the country, with the golden era stretching through the first half of the 20th Century.

Aboard Railway Post Office cars, mail clerks sorted mail en route, receiving and dispatching mail to each town passed along the way. A small number of street railways and interurbans also ran Railway Post Office cars for service along their lines. Roughly a half-dozen trolley-RPO car survive in preservation in 2013. Car 302 is one such rare example. Built in New York, the car spent its entire operational service life in southeastern Massachusetts, exclusively based in New Bedford and the surrounding era. When the Union Street Railway was converting to buses in 1948, 302 was preserved and transported to the newly-formed Branford Electric Railway Association, where it has remained for the past sixty-five years. As a representative from New England, this car is a significant example of rural street railway operation and the larger trolley-RPO and RPO service story country-wide.

The Shore Line Trolley Museum joins several other past New England recipients of this preservation grant award.


Download this Press Release in PDF Format: http://www.massbayrre.org/Press/Webb_Award_2014.pdf
Download this Press Release in Word Format: http://www.massbayrre.org/Press/Webb_Award_2014.doc

Download photos of Union Street Railway Car No. 302:
http://www.massbayrre.org/Press/Car_302_BERA_1950s.jpg (Photo Caption: Car 302 poses on the Short Beach
straightaway at BERA in this undated photo. Photo Credit: Photo: BERA)
http://www.massbayrre.org/Press/Car_302_BERA_2009.jpg (Photo Caption: Union Street Railway Car 302
operating at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in 2009. Photo Credit: Photo: BERA)

For more information contact:
William Crawford, H. Albert Webb Memorial Award Committee Chairman, award@massbayrre.org



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