Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum
Spring / Summer 1997 Update
by Tony Jewell
Dear Cyberspace Rail and Trolley fans:
First, An Apology for Site Update Tardiness.
I know that its been a long long time since there was a change here. Having personally monitored a variety of other sites that I look to for change and frequently see little or nothing, I know that web dust can collect rather quickly and be damn frustrating. Being a one horse wagon, at least on the web scene, it's not easy for me to conjure up the time to develop reams of wonderful reading stuff to keep our Web public happy. But trust me people, I'm going to try to do much better.
Well what is new here at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum in the town that doesn't exist. Well to make it short and sweet, tons. Where do I start......
1) The Museum is no longer located at P.O. Box 272 in Shelburne Falls. So, please, don't look for us at the Bridge of Flowers anymore.
2) So where are you??? Good question!! We're at approximately four places now, none of which, unfortunately, appears to be permanent.
A) For all intensive purposes the Car Barn at 14 Depot Street in Buckland is the Museum and Gift Shop and is open most week days from 10 until four and after July 4th until mid October on Saturdays from 10 until 4. You can witness or participate in the restoration of SF&C Number 10 in progress which is pretty cool even if I do say so myself.
B) The Library and various artifacts are located at the Arms Academy in Shelburne on Severance Street. Access is provided on a call ahead basis only. Phone numbers to follow.
C) Our main office is located at 32 Bridge Street but is not open to the public, unless you have cash or very expensive gifts, in which case, please drop by at your earliest convenience.
.....and then there are our two new public displays.
D) 43 Bridge Street, Shelburne. An on street lighted window display depicting trains and trolleys through the years in the Shelburne Falls area, a genuine part and pictorial review of the ongoing restoration, and last but not least, a ton of museum and rail transit propaganda. This display is made possible by the fact that the former building owner lost the building to the bank and they're, the bank, looking for a new owner. Filled window spaces sell faster than empty ones. The local economy, however, is less than good, so I expect we'll be there through August at least despite our best efforts to make that space look enticing..
As a note for all the above addresses, anything listed in Shelburne or Buckland above is actually contained within the village that doesn't exist known as Shelburne Falls. Both Shelburne and Buckland really do exist but if you should go to a local tourist center and ask directions to get there, chances are nobody will know what you are talking about. But if you should say "Shelburne Falls", then their eyes will automatically light up and they'll say, "Oh yes, that's that cute little village with the Bridge of Flowers right down the road off of Route 2."
E) Springfield Historical Museum, 220 State Street Springfield, Mass. Springfield, which is a historical gold mine for all transportation modes in Western Mass is putting on a Springfield in Transportation exhibit from now until Christmas.
Since this is a Trolley letter we should mention that Springfield was the home of Wason, builder of the first sleeping car in America, and the manufacturer of zillions of trolley cars between 1880 and 1920 when it got absorbed into Brill.
The SFTM has a display as part of the overall Transportation Exhibition about our rural trolley line. Our display also includes a brass model of number 10 by Fomras.
Number 10 was one of two Wason vehicles owned and operated by the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway. The other car, Number 25, was actually an electric locomotive used to move regular steam railway cars interchanged with the Boston and Maine and the New Haven railroads in the Shelburne Falls yard.
3) Well how the aitch do we contact you!!! Boy oh boy, two absolutely great questions in a row.
If you want to leave a message, or find out if the car barn is open call 413-625-9443.
We have purchased the trucks ie wheels, for the restoration. A pair of 1896 Taylor MCB's from the Wannamaker, Kempton, and Southern. Not exactly what we were looking for, but then again, nobody else had exactly what we were looking for either. But in the case of the W,K,&S, their trucks were realistically priced and were certainly the closest relative to our original Taylors that we could find after years of scouring.
The restoration is going on at a good pace now. The first two months consisted of stripping the car down to it's basic structure which, for the most part, was in excellent condition. We are now putting the pieces, new and old, back on and pending deliveries and reimbursements expect to have all the major structural, vestibule, and siding completed by the end of August.
While the bulk of our work is being done by our paid team from Guild, Stewart, and Brady, ie, Tom Kehoe and Ed Brady, we still need lots of volunteer hours. If you've got the time, we've got the need!!!
On another note, five years ago, when we were a little museum with not much money, people used to give or offer to give us all manner of things all of the time. The times and the people were kind and gentle.
But as we all know, the times they are a changin. Now that we have a $200,000 grant, a lot of people have collectively decided that it's high time to collect over due tribute. Anything that we had ever wanted in the past suddenly has become worth at least five times what it was worth the day before we got the grant. From rent to wheels, just about everything has seemed to go right through the roof for us.
Sad but true, despite the grant, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum is still a little museum with even less money, and we still desperately need all the help we can get. In case you were wondering, every dime of the grant money is spoken for by the restoration at normal prices and we'll be damn lucky if we don't exceed the budget as it is.
Another nagging question at the Museum is where are we going to be once the restoration is completed. Another darn good question and one that I wish that I had an answer for. But, for a variety of reasons, most of which revolve around the word change, our long hoped for home in the Shelburne Falls Railroad yard is fast becoming a dimmer vision for the long term.
As a consequence, we have started up a "Moses Committee" to find a home for us that will allow us to operate the car and display our collection of material and library.
One of the things that has changed obviously is Number ten. What was yesterdays chickencoop, is fast becoming a desirable commodity for historical areas and various commercial ventures.
We are not going to go just where the bucks are, but we're certainly going to attempt to go where we can be most historically correct, operational, wanted, and secure. In 1997, thanks be to ISTEA, we have many options that just weren't possible or even imaginable two years ago.
I would be the last one to say that we're finally in the drivers seat now, but I think it's safe to say that we're no longer in danger of being classified as roadkill either.
On a final note, we had a wonderful Museum Annual Dinner on May 30th which included a visit to the car barn and a historical/musical presentation that was fitting for the trolley car era even if the mention of trolleys and trains was pretty much missing. But I can tell you one thing. The wives and girl friends and children of our members loved it far more than anything we ever did in the past.
Hard to believe that anyone would prefer to hear a song and dance routine more than watch fifty slides of Big Boys colliding on Sherman Hill, but that's the way it looks in the town that doesn't exist....
Very trolley yours,
14 Depot Street Shelburne Falls MA 01370        413-625-9443       firstname.lastname@example.org