2013-08-09 / Community

Trolley lines now feature trail access

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


A map depicts the Seashore Trolley Museum’s new access point to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust trails in Smith Preserve. The trolley museum is allowing guests to disembark a trolley at Talbott Park, walk one mile up the unused rail rightof way before converging with the trust’s Trolley Trail. The only other access point to the trails is from Guinea Road 
(Courtesy photo) A map depicts the Seashore Trolley Museum’s new access point to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust trails in Smith Preserve. The trolley museum is allowing guests to disembark a trolley at Talbott Park, walk one mile up the unused rail rightof way before converging with the trust’s Trolley Trail. The only other access point to the trails is from Guinea Road (Courtesy photo) KENNEBUNKPORT — Beginning in late July, the Seashore Trolley Museum now features access to four Kennebunkport Conservation Trust trails and one ridge on Smith Preserve.

Previously, the only access to Smith Preserve was through the singular trailhead on Guinea Road. This expansion in regulation is one of several the museum has implemented in the hopes of attracting new crowds, said Executive Director Sally Bates.

The 1.4-mile trolley tracks extend to the turnaround at Talbott Park. Hikers can disembark at Talbott Park and walk one mile along the track’s right-of-way before converging with the trust’s Trolley Trail.

“We’re opening ourselves up to people who might not want to visit the museum only in the traditional sense,” Bates said.

Said Lisa Lassey, associate director for the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, “As neighbors we have always known that the Trolley Trail abuts the property. We have had ideas that, at some point, we would like people to access trails from the other side since they’re so close to the tracks.”

Now that access is full-steam ahead, Lassey reported that the trust is happy to work with Seashore.

“We’re just excited about it,” Lassey said. We strive to build great community relationships like this one. We were thrilled from the beginning.”

The museum, which encompasses roughly 330 acres, is funded primarily through private donations and membership fees from approximately 1,100 members, most of whom are out of state, Bates said.

Seashore Trolley Museum is the largest electric railway museum in the world with an amalgamation of streetcars, buses, train cars and subway cars. As a niche museum, it is difficult to maintain steady flow of fund- ing from fees and donations, alone, Bates said.

“The museum needs to stay current and reach out to current audiences,” Bates said. “We also want to become more of a community resource.”

As an effort to appeal to a wider audience, the museum began allowing dogs on all parts of the premises, including the trolleys, earlier in the summer. Bates has also overseen the implementation of new programs and themed days, like Seashore Trolley Story Time for children and a vintage costume day. Bates said she hopes that by providing not only more parking but an entrance to the trails from the opposite side, visiting the trails through the museum will stir interest.

Allowing access to the trails, said Bates, “was a natural extension of us becoming dog friendly and a way of extending our program without incurring incremental costs.”

Trolleys depart from the station nine times a day. When a customer says that he or she wishes to disembark at Talbott Park, they are given a special ticket with trolley departure times listed. Like any public transportation system, said Bates, it is up to patrons to board the last departure at 4:15 p.m.

“We’re hoping to eventually attach a small work car to the operating trolley so people can load their bikes if they want,” Bates said. “This could also be the first step toward year-round operation for cross-country skiers and snow shoers, possibly.”

Seashore Trolley Museum is currently open seven days a week through Columbus Day, which includes Pumpkin Patch Days on the last two weekends in September. After Columbus Day the museum will be open Saturdays and Sundays in October as well as for the annual Christmas Prelude.

“By using our cars for more than just demonstration, we’re returning them to the traditional mentality and giving them more of a purpose than just demonstration; we’re moving people to a destination,” Bates said.

“This museum isn’t just a place for older rail fans,” Bates said. “We want to keep those fans, we just want to add a new audience.”

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