Friday, October 2, 2009

Trolley Museum welcomes ASL 100 Locomotive

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The locomotive sat in front of the visitor’s center, much as it might have a hundred years or so ago, awaiting passengers for a trip around the tracks.
The completely restored Atlantic Shore Line Railway electric locomotive No. 100 was unveiled at the Seashore Trolley Museum, the star in a series of new exhibits and projects involving people of all ages. The Seashore Trolley Museum, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. is the oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world.
This $180,000 project included the restoration of ASL-100, development of a curriculum for local schools, and interpretive exhibits for area museums, societies, and schools.
The restored locomotive will now return to use for public demonstrations and educational purposes at the museum.
An ironic twist to the restoration of ASL-100 is that it once “operated right through this property,” Jim Schantz, chairman of the Board of Directors of the museum told a crowd of more than 200 guests attending the ceremony.
The project took “a little less than three years” to complete, according to Phil Morse, ASL 100 project director, including more than 4,000 volunteer hours. There was, he said, more volunteer hours than staff hours on this particular project.
At one time trolleys ran regularly on the Seacoast from Kittery to Biddeford, including the ASL 100, one of only two to survive in North America.
Local use of those trolleys “changed the social fabric of society,” he said, noting that records show about 5 million people were carried by the trolleys in 1907. “The electric railway system changed people’s lives.”
The companion exhibit at the museum is History in Motion: Public Transportation Connecting Maine Communities, that depicts how trolleys changed the lives of Mainers.
Maine State Sen. Nancy Sullivan praised the work of the museum saying it was “one of the favorite things” she has the pleasure of supporting. “This is a first class act,” she said, because it’s “interested in the past, lives in the present, and plans for the future.”
The third part of the project, done in conjunction with the Maine Department of Education and the Boston Museum of Science, is the development of Engineering is Elementary Program of the National Center for Technological Literacy. The ultimate goal is to develop curricular materials that integrate science and technology learning with social studies and assist teachers in meeting the best national practices in instructional design.
The major source of funding for the project came from the Federal and State Transportation Enhancement Act. More than $100,000 came from the Federal Highway Administration and more than $46,000 through the Maine Department of Transportation.
The remainder of the funds came from interested organizations and individual donors.
Those joining Morse, Schantz and Sen. Sullivan at the ceremony included Patricia Erikson, exhibit curator and education project manager.
Photo caption: The ASL 100 locomotive was unveiled on Sept. 25 at the Seashore Trolley Museum. (Larry Favinger photo)