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History of the Museum
History by Ed Dooks
The museum started with Ted Santarelli, John Amlaw and Gerald Cunningham who were on their way to a railfan trip in Lewiston, Maine, on the 19th of April in 1939. They had passed their favorite little small town trolley system, the Biddeford & Saco Railroad, which ran open cars much later than most other systems in the summer time. Gerald Cunningham said, "Fellows, they have ordered the buses", meaning that the Biddeford & Saco was going to give up the trolleys.
A fan trip on the Biddeford & Saco was arranged and the idea to save the car was proposed. Jerry Cunningham went to the president of the Biddeford & Saco Railroad, Mr. Stride, and after some negotiation the price of $150 to purchase open car #31 was finalized. Ten people put forth a $15 contribution and the car was saved. However Mr. Stride had promised the Rotary Club in Biddeford there would not be derelict car bodies in Biddeford or Saco. They had to move the car out of town.
Ted Santarelli and John Amlaw found a small strip of land, which was cut off in the old days by the abandoned from the farm that belonged to George Hill in Kennebunkport. The land was rented for $5 a year with an option to buy, which they did several years later. Car #31 was moved to Kennebunkport and on Saturdays and Sundays the group built track and worked on their only car.
The next year, the Manchester Street Railway in New Hampshire was ceasing to operate trolleys. They had a beautiful trolley worth preserving. Negotiations were started and the result was car #38 being moved to Kennebunkport. People driving by stopped to see the trolleys and get a ride. The museum was born.
Incorporated in 1941 as the New England Electric Railway Historical Society, a non-profit educational foundation and operator of the Seashore Trolley Museum, the organization is still collecting transit vehicles and people are still stopping by to see the trolleys.