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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Collections

The Shore Line Trolley Museum maintains several diverse collections of equipment, photographs, documents and artifacts which preserve the history and heritage of the Trolley Era. The Museum owns nearly 100 vintage transit vehicles, as described in more detail below. In addition, the museum archives contain nearly 51,000 photographic images, over 4,000 books and documents, and about 1,000 small artifacts such as tokens, hat badges and ticket punches. 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. Please inquire via email or phone.

Vehicle Collection

The Shore Line Trolley Museum’s vehicle collection is diverse both in terms of geographic reach and chronological spread.  Included in the collection are some of America’s oldest single-truck cars, many examples of wooden and steel streetcars from the Golden Era of street railways, and several modern and representatives from the high-speed and streamlined era.  Rapid Transit (Elevated and Subway), Interurban and Work Cars round out the collection.  A portion of this collection is shown below.  Additional entries are being added as time allows.

Cars you may ride

The museum’s current operating public fleet includes the following trolley cars. When you visit the museum, several of these cars may be operating on our trolley line for your enjoyment.

Connecticut Company 1602

This 1911-built wooden trolley is unusual in having a concrete floor and straight-line seating. It ran in the city of New Haven, CT and today is a regular in our operational fleet. This car is also commonly referred to as the “Birthday Car,” as it is the most popular choice among visitors for holding their birthday parties and other special charters. Click here to get more information about enjoying a trolley ride for your special event.

Connecticut Company 865

Connecticut Co. 865 is similar to car 775 listed under “Cars you may ride.”  It is one year younger and was built for suburban service on the New Haven Division.  Trademark of its suburban operation were overhead luggage racks made of brass, a detail not found on typical “city” streetcars.  Thanks in part to recent grant funding, 865 has been undergoing a comprehensive restoration – including those unique luggage racks – for almost 15 years, and in 2016 will begin carrying passengers down our trolley line, for the first time since 1947!

New Orleans Public Service 850: “The Streetcar named Desire”

The city of New Orleans has the nation’s oldest trolley line, which is still running vintage cars from 1924. Car 850 is two years older, and was fully restored at the museum over a period of a decade, completed in 2007. 850 toured several cities during that year to promote tourism in the city of New Orleans, before returning to the museum to operate in regular passenger service.

Johnstown Traction Company 357

A survivor of the great flood of 1936, this typical small-town steel-sided trolley from Johnstown, PA was built in 1926 and has been immaculately restored by our shops. Johnstown is noted as the last small city in America to operate a fleet of streetcars, with the final line maintaining operation until August, 1960.

Connecticut Company 775

Freshly repaired and returned to service in late 2011, this car maintains a history on the Branford Electric Railway dating back to the very earliest years of the 20th Century. This 1904-built car spent most of its years running on the museum’s line when it was an ordinary passenger carrying route of the Connecticut Company. The Museum acquired the line from the Connecticut Company in the late 1940s and Car 775 continues to operate on this very line today.

Montreal Tramways 2001

The museum has several cars from Canadian systems.  Car 2001 was part of a fleet which helped to modernize the Montreal system in the late 1920s.  Originally built as a single-ended car, 2001 and its sisters were modified as double-enders in 1933 to operate on lines which did not have a loop at each end.  The Montreal system survived beyond many American city systems, lasting until 1959.  2001 was one of several cars which arrived at the museum from Montreal in the early 1960s, and returned to museum operation late in 2015 after hurricane flood and mechanical damage was repaired.

Georgia Power Company 948

This car was built by the Cincinnati Car Co. in 1926 and operated on the streets of Atlanta until 1948. Many of Atlanta’s retired streetcars were sold to Seoul, Korea, where they operated for several more years. At that time, all of 948’s electrical and mechanical equipment was removed and sent to Seoul for spare parts. The museum acquired the carbody and spent many years working to re-acquire all the parts to bring it back to life. Atlanta 948 made its grand debut on our line in 2011 as the most recently-restored member of our fleet.

Third Avenue Railway System 629

The most modern car in our regular fleet, car 629 was home-built by the Third Avenue Railway from pieces of older cars in 1939. It ran in Manhattan and the Bronx, before being sold for post-WWII operation in Vienna, Austria as part of the Marshall Plan. After being retired in the 1960s, the museum acquired it in 1967, and it ran on our line for three years as Vienna 4239 before being restored to its original appearance as Third Avenue 629 in 1970.

Brooklyn Car 4573

Brooklyn Car 4573 is well known and used at the museum. During summer months it received regular heavy loads of visitors. Car 4573 was the museum’s first Brooklyn car representing the largest trolley system in the U. S. It was used by the then Brooklyn Dodgers to travel to and from games.  It is a four motor convertible running in its summer configuration at Shore Line Trolley Museum. Built by the Laconia Car Company in 1906, it started its service on Flatbush Ave. and worked until 1934 when it was converted to a salt and sand car. In 1947 the car was selected by Branford, it was rare and well preserved example of this type of car.
  • Built in: 1906 by Laconia Car Company
  • Acquired by the museum in: 1947

Cars you may see

A portion of the museum’s collection of equipment is regularly on exhibit, including a variety of cars from the earliest period of electric traction through the late era of the PCC. Based on the needs of each day and our operators’ qualifications, additional pieces of equipment may be pulled out or operated on our line for use on our railroad and/or for the public’s enjoyment. You never know what each day’s visit will bring!

New Jersey trailer 4584

A trailer car is just what its name implies – a car which is coupled and towed along, trailing behind a powered streetcar.  This was a cost-effective way to double capacity during peak rush times.  Trailer cars were popular in the 1910s and 1920s before the ridership crash of the Great Depression.  From 1936-2004, this carbody was used as the office of a local iron works in Union, NJ, a form of adaptive reuse which saved many trolley cars from destruction. The car is now being stabilized complete with reinstalled windows, a repaired roof, reinstalled trucks, and new paint job.

  • Built in: 1921 by Osgood-Bradley Co.
  • In service: Public Service Coordinated Transport of New Jersey
  • Acquired by the museum in: 2004

Union Street Railway RPO 302

Many people know the U.S. Mail once traveled by train, but did you also know that some mail traveled by streetcar?  The Union Street Ry. operated a Railway Post Office (RPO) route from the main railroad station in Providence, RI to Fall River and New Bedford, Mass.  A mail case onboard allowed postal workers to sort mail as the car rolled from post office to post office.  Express shipments were also handled.  This car has just completed an extensive restoration to operating condition thanks in part to funding from the 2014 H. Albert Webb Railroad Preservation Award.

The Rhode Island Company 61

Believed to be the oldest purpose-built electric streetcar in North America, Rhode Island 61 was originally built as an open platform car in 1893.  Later, the platforms were enclosed, and later still it was modified for use as a sand car to move sand around the system.  Much of the interior has been lost to time, but the exterior was repainted and restored to an early 1900s appearance most recently in 2014.

Third Ave RR Co. 220

Car 220 was built as Car 20 for a cable operation on Third Ave from 130 th St to City Hall in NYC. In 1899 the car was rebuilt into an electric car, renumbered to car 220 and assigned to the 42 nd St. Crosstown line. The car was replaced by a larger car in 1908. From 1908 to 1946 it was renumbered again to work car 33 and used to clean the underground third rail conduits used by street cars in Manhattan. Car 220 came the Branford in 1948 as the last conduit lines in New York were abandoned.

  • Built in: 1892 by Laclede Car Company
  • Acquired by the museum in: 1948

Derby

This little 4-wheel electric locomotive only ran for two years, but it had a rich and colorful history. Created by electric railway pioneer Chas Vandepoele, it competed for local freight against the mighty steam locomotive….and won. The Derby Locomotive at the Shore Line Trolley Museum is a memorial to Charles Rufus Harte. Had he not recognized the historical significance of this machine, and been able to persuade his superiors to take action to preserve it, it would not exist today.

  • Built in: 1888 by Pullman Palace
  • Acquired by the museum in: 1982

Connecticut Company 401

Car 401 is a representative of the “open” style of trolley car, popular in the early traction era up through the beginning of the 20th Century. Also called a “breezer car,” the Connecticut Company became known as the last transit operation in North America to regularly operate a fleet of these cars, using them in Yale Bowl and seasonal tripper service in New Haven until the end in 1947. 401 was built by the J.M. Jones Company in 1904 and is regularly seen during our guided trolley exhibit.

PATH Car 745

On 9-11 Car 745 was the lead car (on the north end) of a 7-car train which had left Hoboken at 8:42 AM, arrived on Track 3 at about 8:52, and was due to depart the loop station at 9:00 AM for the return trip to New Jersey. Behind it were cars 143-160-845-750-139-612. When the unthinkable happened, the entire PATH station was ordered evacuated, employees included. As a result, there was no loss of life on the train or in the station. The car is open for you to walk inside.

  • In service: PATH
  • Acquired by the museum in: 2015

Car 116

Car 116 was one of four left, built for the C&LE which intended to modernize the system. These new cars had revolutionary features like automotive-inspired styling, aluminum sides, and magnetic track brakes. Declining ridership led the C&LE to abandon all passenger service in 1938, however, at which time six coaches – including 116 – were sold to the CR&IC, or “Crandic.” These six cars ran on the Crandic until that line was abandoned in 1953, when four of them were sold off intact. Car 116 was bought by BERA and moved to Connecticut. In the 1970’s restoration work was begun to return the car to its appearance on the C&LE however this work was not completed. Today restoration efforts have been restarted with the exterior of the car painted and the interior mostly complete.

  • Built in: 1930 by Cincinnati Car Company

Toronto Convertible Car 1706

Toronto Car 1706 is a hybrid convertible. The curb side of the car is a convertible while the road side has fixed exterior walls. The all wood car was built in the shops of the Toronto Railway Co. as one of 74 cars. This feature of a half convertible was unique to Toronto. At one time in its life 1706 pulled trains of trailer cars (former horse cars) to carry more passengers. The car was purchased by the museum in 1954 at which time it was being used as a rail grinder. The Toronto Transit Commission generously put the car through its shop prior to shipping to Branford.

  • Built in: 1913 by Toronto Railway Co.
  • Acquired by the museum in: 1954

Other trolley cars

The museum has an active program of repairing and restoring our antique equipment. During your visit, you may see one or more of the following cars undergoing restoration work. We also perform regular maintenance on our public service cars, so you may see one of them in the shop as well.

Toronto Transit Commission Peter Witt 2898

Peter Witt was a Cleveland street railway commissioner who studied the economics of street car design and operation.  In 1914, he patented a new design whereby passengers paid and entered through the front door only and exited only through a wide center door, relieving a lot of the slow congestion on busy urban streetcar routes.  Toronto had one of the largest fleets of Peter Witt style streetcars, ordering 575 cars during the early 1920s.  2898 came to the museum after a 40+ year career on the streets of Toronto and regularly hosts special seasonal guests such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Union Railway 316

Car 316 was built in 1895 for the Union Railway, which operated in the Bronx and lower Westchester County, NY. In its later years, it was converted to that line’s car number 1, the pay car. Before the era of checks or direct deposit, the pay car would make its rounds on the system to dispense cash to trolley line workers for their payroll. 316 was significantly modified when it became pay car number 1. Restoration of this car to its original configuration was one of the first major projects undertaken by the museum in its early days, and today it is lovingly restored and maintained in operating condition by a father and son team of museum members.

Johnstown Traction Company 356

Car 356 is an identical sister to JTCo 357 highlighted under the “Cars you may ride” section. Several Johnstown double-ended trolleys from this series have been preserved, and SLTM was fortunate to get two sequentially numbered. 356 was involved in a collision many years ago that seriously damaged one end of the car. Using the other end as a blueprint, our shop team is currently reconstructing the damaged end, and fully restoring the car for passenger operation in the process.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit PCC 1001

The revolutionary PCC (Presidents Conference Committee) car was the traction industry’s answer to growing automobile and bus use and to replace fleets of older traditional cars around the country, continent, and later to Europe. Car 1001, which ran in Brooklyn, NY, was the first production PCC car and entered service in 1936. Restoration of 1001 to its late 1930’s appearance was completed in 2006.

Work cars

Trolleys don’t run themselves, and neither do trolley museums! Like expansive trolley systems back in the day, our museum volunteers rely on special equipment to keep all aspects of the museum’s line in order: track and ballast, overhead wires, lineside poles, signalling, and more. Clearing snow from the streets in which the trolleys ran was the traction company’s job, and several types of snow-fighting equipment were commonly seen during the trolley era. The museum’s collection includes several examples of work cars. You might see some of these cars on exhibit, or actually at work on the museum’s own railway.

Ottawa Electric Railways line car 25

An indispensable car on any historic electric railway is the line car. Line cars give workmen “rooftop” access to construct, adjust, and make repairs to the overhead wires. The platform can be raised to twice the height of the car and can be pivoted out to either side to work on an adjacent track. The platform is also insulated, meaning repairs can go on even while the trolley wire is fully energized (600v DC!). Our line car was built in 1923 by the Ottawa Car Company and operated on the Ottawa Electric Railways in Ontario, Canada. It can regularly be found in-service on the Branford Electric Railway as our volunteers maintain our own trolley wire.

Montreal Tramways plow 3152

We have several snowplows in our collection.  Most frequently used to plow the line during the winter months is Montreal plow 3152.  Built in 1925 as a work flat car, it was rebuilt by Montreal in 1944, adding the plow apparatus and a center cab.  The car was sold in 1957 to the Cornwall Street Ry. Light & Power, one of the last traction lines in Canada, to continue to plow snow in this eastern Ontario town.  When Cornwall Street Ry. shut down in 1972, 3152 came to us, and it continues to be a valuable utility piece over 40 years later.

Toronto Transit Commission sweeper S-36

Snow sweepers were more effective than plows in moderate snow, because they avoided packing down ice into the track.  Large spinning brooms would whisk the snow clear of the rails and flanges.  S-36 worked in both New York and Boston before closing its career on the snowy streets of Toronto.

Montreal Tramways crane W-3

Nothing in the Trolley Era was light! A crane car was indispensable for moving rails, ties, poles, motors, and most anything else heavy within reach of the rails. This electric crane from Montreal, Canada is capable of lifting 5 tons. It was built in 1929 by the Differential Steel Co. and came to the Shore Line Trolley Museum in 1963, serving the museum operation faithfully since then!

United Electric Railways Co. EMERGENCY car 1504

When you’re on a streetcar and it breaks down, who do you call? If you’re on the United Electric Railways in Rhode Island, you called in EMERGENCY car 1504. A true AAA tow truck of the trolley era, 1504 is fully equipped to repair or move any disabled equipment quickly and effectively. From spare trolley poles and headlamps to jacks and axle dollies, this car had it all! 1504 has been undergoing lengthy restoration at the museum for over a decade, and is now complete and often on display.

South Brooklyn pillar-crane 9137

This car may not look like much, but its usefulness cannot be understated. This self-propelled pillar crane car was built in 1903 specifically to lift and set lengths of rail.

Snow Plow 10

Snow plow #10 was built by the Taunton Ma. Locomotive Works in 1899 for the Nassau Electric Railroad, a subsidiary of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit. It is a shear plow which moved the snow to one side of the track and was most commonly used on double track lines. When New York City Transit Authority retired the last Brooklyn cars in 1956, this plow was still in service.

  • Built in: 1899 by Taunton Ma. Locomotive Works
  • In service: Nassau Electric Railroad

Rapid transit & high-speed cars

Around the country, but particularly in the Midwest, interurban traction systems gained popularity at the beginning of the 20th Century. As their name implies, these systems connected larger communities over longer distances. In rural areas, these were typically well-built lines on their own right-of-way, which allowed interurbans to operate at high speeds. Some operations ran as single cars, while others operated in short trains of four-to-eight cars each. The museum’s collection includes several different examples of interurban equipment from places near and far around North America.

Commuter traffic was so intense in several US cities that dedicated rapid transit systems were built. These operated on a separate right-of-way, such as a subway tunnel, elevated structure, in a cut or on an embankment. Trolley cars, running in the street, served as feeder routes for the rapid transit lines. The electric rapid transit cars were larger and heavier than trolley cars, took power from a third rail, and ran in trains of up to a dozen or so cars. Of the four cities (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago) which had rapid transit systems during the trolley era, all are still in operation today.

The Museum has a small representative collection of rapid transit cars, mainly from the New York City systems. Some of these cars are operated at the museum in passenger service during Rapid Transit weekends. (Third weekend of each month, May-September.)

Hudson and Manhattan Car 503

Car 503 was built in 1928 by the American Car and Foundry. The Hudson and Manhattan operated cars under the Hudson River from Lower & Mid-Town Manhattan to New Jersey. The cars in the 503 series where built from 1908 to the late 1920’s. Do to the close quarters and the fact the car operated under land and water, fire was a major concern of the public. The cars where promoted as being all steel and in fact the first fleet to be built this way. Another unusual feature of the cars is the new center door configuration. Due to the H&M financial problems these cars operated well into the 1960’s. This car operated as an H&M car from 1928 to 1962 then Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) from 1962 to until 1965. It operated in work train service until 1979, coming to BERA in 1979.

Montreal & Southern Counties 9

Montreal and Southern Counties was an interurban operation which began in the first years of the 20th Century, connecting the growing Canadian city and the rural countyside to the east.  Car 9 was built in 1911 as M&SC was quickly extending their line toward Granby.  Always an electric car, No. 9 and its fleetmates closely resemble the steam passenger coaches of the era with high steps, paired windows with stained glass, railroad wheels and heavy, solid construction.  M&SC continued to run until 1956, when the rails they used to cross the Victoria Bridge were removed.

Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee 709

The “North Shore Line” was one of the most famous interurban lines in the America.  Known as “America’s Fastest Interurban,” electric trains of 2 to 6 cars such as 709 regularly reached speeds of 80+ mph along the high speed Skokie Valley route.  Service in the two namesakes was a little bit slower, with North Shore trains rolling down city streets in Milwaukee, and jockeying with “el” trains around the famous Chicago Loop.  The North Shore Line survived until very late in the interurban era (1963), and 709 was among the last to operate on the final day of service.

Independent Subway R-9 1689

The City of New York opened the first municipal subway line in 1932. Car 1689 was built in 1940 for an expansion of service. It ran until 1977 in New York. At 60 feet and 84,000 pounds, this is the largest passenger car regularly operated at the museum. It was repainted and restored in 2013 to its mid-to-late 1960’s appearance inside and out.

Interborough Rapid Transit Lo-V 5466

The Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) company was New York’s first subway line, opening on October 27, 1904. The Lo-V is the second generation of rolling stock; our example was built in 1924. Car 5466 was part of a New York museum train and was saved from the scrapper through some clever tricks. This car is often operated on Rapid Transit weekends.

New York City Transit R-17 “Redbird” subway car 6688

Car 6688 was ordered by the City of New York in 1955 to replace some of the original 1904-1907 vintage IRT cars. It was one of the first cars to be painted in the well-known red and silver scheme and looks similar to the thousands of “redbird” cars that were retired ca. 2001. It was preserved at the museum in 1987 and operates frequently on the Shore Line.

Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. elevated car 1349

Car 1349 is a “convertible” car, meaning it has side panels which can be affixed with window glazing during the cold months which can then be removed and replaced with metal bars in the summer months to let the breeze flow through. Built in 1905, the center window openings are the convertible portion of this car, a clear advantage in the days before modern air conditioning! It was ordered for service to Canarsie, and in the early years, it could be seen running on the street as well as on elevated structures. 1349 is currently operable but is in the midst of an intense overhaul of end platforms and other components.

Other equipment

Coming soon.