Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum
Please make a Donation to the "Berkshire Hills" Fund.
Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunkport, Maine) donated the "Berkshire Hills" to us in 2023. They have many other trolleys in line for restoration work, and they felt that SFTM was closer to home for the "Berkshire Hills".
According to the website Preserved North American Electric Railway Cars, out of the hundreds of trolley cars to have run in Western Massachusetts (west of Worcester), five survive. Two are lightweight cars built in the 1920s for the city of Springfield, MA. One is the body of a Holyoke Street Railway car, stored in a warehouse in Holyoke. One is our very own Number 10. The final car is the "Berkshire Hills", due to arrive at SFTM in 2024.
The "Berkshire Hills" (it never had a number) was built by Wason in 1903, as a parlor car for the Berkshire Street Railway. The company, formed in 1901, was established to run a trolley line between Adams and Great Barrington, with a connection to the Connecticut State Line. It was the only trolley company known to run in four states - it had routes in Vermont, New York and Connecticut as well as Massachusetts.
"Berkshire Hills" herself was delivered June 12, 1903. She cost $20,000 when new, about five times as much as SF&C's Number 25. The interior was made of mahogany, with carpeted floors and upholstered wicker chairs. The car also had a water cooler and hinged mirrors containing glassware. The car was used in both charter service and in a scheduled summer service between Bennington, VT and Great Barrington at double the price of an ordinary ticket. The scheduled service was discontinued in 1917 due to World War 1, and never resumed. Between 1917 and 1922, the car was only used for charters.
"Berkshire Hills" was retired in the early 1920s, and was out of service by 1923. It was sold in 1932, and converted to a diner for many years, first known as the "Berkshire Hills Diner". In the early 1990s, the interior was badly burned in a fire, and after that it was donated to Seashore Trolley Museum, who have very generously agreed to donate it to us.
As the only other preserved wooden Western Massachusetts trolley car, the "Berkshire Hills" is an excellent contrast to our Number 10. While Number 10 was a workhorse, "Berkshire Hills" shows the elegance of the trolley era, and the superb craftsmanship of Western Massachusetts.
Here is another short history from Frank Hicks and the Preserved North American Electric Cars Roster:
Very few electric parlor cars were ever built and, as they had mostly been retired by the Depression, fewer still survive. The "Berkshire Hills" is one of the few that does. Berkshire Street Railway (BSR) was a sizeable conglomerate of smaller lines that had been organized between 1901 and 1903; at its peak, after it had been acquired by the New Haven in 1904, it operated 170 miles of street railways in four states. The company ordered the "Berkshire Hills" for use on charter outings and on extra-fare scheduled trips. The car, described by historian William Middleton in his book "Traction Classics, Vol. II" as "the largest and most elegant of all trolley parlor cars in New England," was painted white, had large windows for sightseeing, and was fitted with wicker furniture and drapes. Use of the car in regular service ended in 1917 but it continued in charter service until it was stored in 1922; in 1932 the car was sold and the body made into a diner in West Pittsfield. There it remained until a fire in 1994 damaged the car's structure, after which the diner's owner donated the carbody to Seashore Trolley Museum. It was moved to Kennebunkport in 1995 and has been in storage since then.
A Berkshire Eagle article described the car and its life as a restaurant.
As of the end of 2023, we have moved a pair of trucks from Seashore to SFTM. These are not the original trucks but are similar models, also donated by Seashore. We are overhauling the trucks. Then we will send the trucks back up to Seashore, jack up the "Berkshire Hills", put the trucks under her so we can roll her onto a road trailer for the move the SFTM.
Josh, our Restoration Manager, will be leading the restoration of this car. You can reach Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to volunteer to help with this project. Please consider making a Donation to the "Berkshire Hills" Fund - with your help, we hope the "Berkshire Hills" can serve the museum for years as an ongoing example of our restoration work.
We are raising money to start the restoration of the "Berkshire Hills". We have already received a generous donation of $10,000 to cover the expenses of moving the car from Kennebunkport, Maine to SFTM.
Please make a Donation the "Berkshire Hills" Fund.
Please send any additional information or corrections or pictures to Sam Bartlett.
14 Depot Street Shelburne Falls MA 01370        413-625-9443       email@example.com