A National Historic District – The oldest continuously running suburban trolley line in the USA. Come and enjoy a living, breathing experience riding historic, restored trolleys through scenic surroundings!
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Museum History

The Shore Line Trolley Museum, its collection of street railway vehicles, and the existing mile and a half long segment of the Branford Electric Railway are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Branford Electric Railway Historic District. The district was nominated to the Register in 1983. A copy of the completed nomination is available for download here (.pdf). Learn more about museum history below.

This photo was stages just after the museum's incorporation in 1945 to mark the beginning of private right-of-way.

This photo was staged just after BERA’s incorporation in 1945 to mark the beginning of private museum right-of-way.

The Shore Line Trolley Museum has been an important part of the community since its incorporation in 1945 as the Branford Electric Railway Association. It was founded to preserve the unique heritage of an endangered species — the trolley car — and today boasts a collection of nearly 100 vintage vehicles as well as artifacts and documents from the trolley era.

By 1956, the number of cars acquired far exceeded the amount of indoor building space.

By 1956, the number of cars acquired far exceeded the amount of indoor building space.

Once the trolley cars were in position, they were actually used as scaffolds to construct each barn roof overhead. Incidentally, this photo shows Connecticut Co. cars 1602 and 775, both restored and carrying passengers on the Branford Electric Railway in 2014.

Once the trolley cars were in position, they were actually used as scaffolds to construct each barn roof overhead. Incidentally, this photo shows Connecticut Co. cars 1602 and 775, both restored and carrying passengers on the Branford Electric Railway in the 21st Century.

The historic trolley collection has always been the focus of any visit to the Museum. In the early days, former Connecticut Company car 1339 was painted in a special BRANFORD ELECTRIC RAILWAY paint scheme of dark green with gold trim and shuttled visitors from the end of the track in East Haven to the yard area at Farm River Road. Eventually, cars painted in authentic paint schemes were restored to operation and replaced the venerable 1339.

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Passengers disembark BERy car 1339 to tour the yard in the 1950s.

The Museum continues to operate predominantly through the dedication and support of its over 1,000 member/volunteers. A visit to the Museum is a multi-sensory voyage into the past, from the moanful growl of the motors, to the smell of the electric arc, to the feel of rattan seats and varnished hardwood detailing. The Shore Line Trolley Museum operates the Branford Electric Railway, which together with the collection of cars is a nationally-recognized Historic District. The railway is the oldest continuously operating suburban trolley line in the United States.

The Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

From “the good old days”…

Connecticut Co. open car 1414

A large 15-bench open car, synonymous with ConnCo operation until 1947, crosses the Quarry Trestle inbound on the Museum’s line.

To today…we bring the past alive in the present!

1602

Connecticut Company 1602, over 100 years old, continues to bring the past alive by carrying passengers down the Branford Electric Railway.

All photographs on this page are part of the archival collection of the Shore Line Trolley Museum. The archives are available by appointment to qualified researchers. The Museum is happy to provide copies of photographs for both commercial and non-commercial use. Learn more about the Museum’s collections.