An Afternoon at the Seashore Trolley Museum

little streetcar rider

Some two-year-olds are passionate about animals, or dinosaurs, or bugs. Micah is also interested in these things, but what really lights him up are vehicles. Anything that makes a noise and moves absorbs his attention. Tractors, lawn mowers, cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses… he knows their names and he sees them all. He can spot an airplane when it’s a tiny speck in the sky that no one else has noticed. While he loves ‘things that go’ of all kinds, lately he’s been asking especially often about trains.

When we had the chance to visit the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, we took it! While it was fun and fascinating for all of us, Micah was in vehicle heaven. While trolleys and streetcars are not technically trains, it was close enough for a toddler.

We started our visit with a ride on a streetcar that was built in 1924, guided by an operator who was born just a year later. As the car traveled about three miles round trip, he told us about the history of the streetcar we were sitting in and others like it around New England. We learned more about the parks that trolley companies built outside of cities to become destinations that would drive ticket sales on weekends. But most interesting of all were the stories our guide shared from his childhood, riding similar streetcars to school and around town. The museum wasn’t crowded that day, and we were joined on the trolley by only a few other riders. Ours were the only kids on board, so they were given chances to ring the bell and blow the whistle. It was a fun ride and set the tone for exploring the rest of the museum.

little streetcar rider
It’s a big step! But he insisted on doing it himself!

 

Trolley ride

 

toddler
Stomp on the button to ring the bell? Don’t mind if I do!

There were several different car barns around the property, housing train and trolley cars of varying ages and in varying stages of restoration. Most were open for visitors to climb in, walk through, have a seat or pretend to drive. Our kids imagined themselves to be rich business-people on some cars, postal workers on others, and once or twice tried to imagine climbing up into a moving cargo car to stow away. Micah took his chance to “Drive it, the train!” whenever he could. The car barns and exhibit barns were not set up with a bunch of hands-on exhibits, but they were not “hands-off” either. They were just row after row of real trolley cars, restored and ready to be explored. With a little imagination, they were time machines ready to take us on magical journeys through history.

streetcar

 

antique streetcar
They were very concerned that this one would be dangerous. “We’ll sit here when it’s still, but if it was moving I think I would go inside.”

The restoration shop, where new additions to the collection are repaired and restored, has an observation gallery where visitors can watch the work being done from a safe distance. No one was working when we were there, but we were able to see a partially restored car and some of the tools and supplies used to work on it. There were also small station buildings to explore. The visitor center has an exhibit hall geared toward children, where they can play with signal lights, climb up on a model car, and read picture books about trains and trolleys.

Station master
Too busy on a phone call to sell me a ticket

 

signal lights
This is not your usual traffic light!

We spent several hours exploring the grounds at a leisurely pace. It had been a tourist-intense week for us, visiting Old Sturbridge Village for a day and spending a day in Boston with friends, so this was a great balance. It wasn’t a long and intense day, but it was nice to be out for a few hours. We had a fun afternoon together and learned something along the way, which is the best kind of day. And our little train enthusiast got to climb and explore trolleys to his heart’s content.

toddler drive
“Micah drive it, the train!”

Disclosure: We received free admission to Seashore Trolley Museum in exchange for writing about our day here and at IndieRV. The opinions above are 100% my own. Thanks to the Seashore Trolley Museum for hosting us!

 

 

2 thoughts on “An Afternoon at the Seashore Trolley Museum

  1. Cool. Next time you are traveling up the Maine coast, tour the Owls Head Transportation Museum just south of Camden. Huge exhibit of pre-World War II airplanes, autos, trucks, tractors and other forms of transportation. Worth the visit.

    1. That sounds fun! We’re still in Maine, actually. We headed north after Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor/Acadia. Maybe we’ll see if it fits our itinerary on the way south again! Thanks for the tip!

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