Sunday, January 29, 2017

W. S. Libbey - Builder of the PLI: His Stanley Steamer Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

Image from the Portland-Lewiston Interurban Employees' Scrapbook.
The large scrapbook created by Charles D. Heseltine, using photos, newspaper
clippings, original ephemera from the Portland-Lewiston Interurban (PLI); 
including poetry,
personal cards, notes, and notations from employees and their families. 
My understanding is
that Heseltine passed the scrapbook on to O. R. Cummings, who in 
turn, passed it on to the
New England Electric Railway Historical Society's (NEERHS) Library.
Seashore Trolley Museum is owned and operated by the NEERHS in Kennebunkport, ME.

            This Narcissus blog post features one of this year's highlight's at this summer's 

            W. S. Libbey was the successful businessman that designed and built the Portland-Lewiston Interurban (PLI).  The Narcissus operated on the PLI from 1914 until early summer 1933 when operations ceasedConstruction of the PLI was from 1910 until 1914. In 1908, W. S. Libbey had a Stanley Steamer automobile built for him, to his specifications. Mr. Libbey would drive his Stanley on inspection trips as the PLI was being constructed. This rare, original Stanley Steamer K-30 HP Semi-Racer is on display at the Seal Cove Auto Museum on Mount Desert Island (ME). Seal Cove Auto Museum Curator, Roberto Rodriguez, will conduct an engaging presentation on the very rare, Libbey Stanley Steamer. Mr. Rodriguez's presentation on Friday, July 21st,  will be one of the activities for the opening of the 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days weekend event at Seashore Trolley Museum. Advance ticket sales for this limited-seating opening will be available online in the spring. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend.

The July 21, 22, 23, 2017, weekend event will
have activities that appeal to all ages.
Proceeds from the weekend benefit the
Narcissus project. Theodore Roosevelt was
a passenger on the Narcissus on
August 18, 1914. 

Poster design by Patricia Pierce Erikson

Here are a couple of newspaper stories featuring W. S. Libbey and his K 30-HP Semi-Racer Stanley Steamer. I feel I learned a lot about W. S. Libbey's personality by reading through these stories; his zest for life, his sense of humor, and the public's appeal for the man. 

            The Lewiston Evening Journal dated November 20, 1929, had this story about W. S. Libbey and his K 30 Semi-Racer:
            In a personal letter expressing pleasure at the editorial of the Journal regarding the old Stanley Steamer and its race with the "narrer gauge" from Strong to Kingfield, Mrs. Gertrude Libbey Anthony says that her father's old Stanley Steamer of 1914, is kept intact at the old farm up in Wayne (ME) as a memento of the days, when he used to go "hell-bent" thru Gray Corner toward the end of the line, while they were building the Interurban.
            And this reminds us. Every now and then Mr. W. S. Libbey, to whom this old Stanley belonged, used to come around and ask us to ride to some places. Mr. Libbey was in the old Journal office when we went there to work in 1883, for he was telegraph manager for the Western Union and dreaming all the time of being a manufacturer and builder. Remarkable personality - the most resolute man we ever knew, at the same time the gentlest and the most unyielding as was his mood.
            He took us out many times in that Stanley steamer. It had been built to order - a replica, as to engine of the car that had broken the world's record on the beach at Ormond, Florida. It was geared three to one - if that is correct - or so that when she "turned over one she went a mile" as Clarence Rand used to speak of her. A mile a minute was nothing for her when she was "behaving" - and in those days a mile a minute was going some.

                                                                   _________

            The first time he ever gave us a ride in that car we went to Hebron (ME). Mr. Libbey had what might be called a pastoral day. He drove along at ten to fifteen miles an hour along unfrequented country roads, thru sand and wheel ruts, past quiet farms thru very door-yards and we had a lot of fun. His mind, so active and often so belligerent, was at peace. He seemed to delight in hearing my exclamation of joy at these woodsy-roads and these autumn hills robed in crimson. We did go up the hill at Hebron rather fast. In fact, it appeared that he was intending a dramatic climax; for "W.S." was a speed-demon, fearless, a practical joker in a way. We went up Hebron hill a mile-a-minute and he yelled in glee as "she" did it. The result was a sort of pastoral, as near as I could write one, about the ride. Mr. Libbey was great sentimentalist also - liking such things as nature when he gave it a look.
            Lulled into security by this quiet ride a second invitation was accepted. Mr. Libbey was in a different mood. We were going to Falmouth (ME) to see operations at a place, where the road looks down from an eminence into the broad valley and where Mr. Libbey said he was going to build a cottage of his own some day.
            On the way down, he forgot everything but getting there and the Stanley began to turn over, with her long strokes and equally long strides. She began hitting on nothing at all except atmosphere and an occasional nubble. He was doing what he called "giving me a ride". I called it giving me a fright.
            Ashamed to call it off, disliking to show a white feather I was terrified, for the Stanley Steamer was an open car, small light body, all cut-offs wide open; steam roaring from the exhaust and good at this moment for 80 miles an hour.
            Up the road coming towards us was another car - toiling in the wheel ruts which were a feature of all automobiling in those days. The driver of the other car seemed either unconscious of his duty to turn out and give what Mr. Libbey called half-of-the-road or else he was unwilling.
            If you had known Scott Libbey at all, you would have known that he would never be crowded. He wanted half-the-road - maybe a trifle more, especially is anyone else wanted the same. So we drove madly together, neither budging. Never was I so terrified in my life. The intervening space lessened with tremendous speed. Mr. Libbey never budged. The other fellow looked up and saw us coming and never budged. I saw nothing but death ahead. Mr. Libbey held his place and suddenly the other fellow swerved a trifle and those two cars passed with not over six inches leeway, our car going forty-five - a terrific speed for those days.
            As we passed Mr. Libbey threw back his head and roared, in glee.
            "Hah," shouted he, "D'jer see me make him turn out!"
             Yes, I had seen him make him turn out and I had seen the narrow squeak by which, each giving a little, probably the collision had been averted. I often wished I could have known the other chap and had him and Mr. Libbey meet. I'll bet they were a good deal alike. "D'jer see me make him turn out." Selecting his own rights and sticking to them was probably the riling spirit of both those men. Certainly, it was Mr. Libbey's. He never bothered other people, but when he had a right-of-way, believe me, it was HIS. He cared for nothing on earth as a pleasure of real lasting sort, except fighting obstacles. When he was building a dam, he was happy. When he had a river to buck; a hill to remove; a mountain to level - he was happy. When it was done - he was restless.  He liked the Stanley car because it was a "holy terror." It gave him something to subdue - something in Nature, inanimate.

                                                                      _________

            So far as we recall, only one or two of that type of Stanleys were ever made. I believe that as she left the Lewiston garage or Rand and Harvey's they used to say, in the enthusiasm of those days, that she made three turns and then she was in Portland. "She " was supposed to have an abnormally long wheel-base. We may suppose it was as much as 96 inches.
            Mr. Libbey once bought a National car - the biggest car we had ever seen here about and one wonders if it were as big as it then seemed. It was, of course, high and its tonneau was a roving elevated architecture.
            People liked them big. It indicated as Jack Ruggles said when he bought his boots three sizes too big "that you were getting more for your money."
           ........
                                                                                                                                 A.G.S.     


Caption reads: The old gag "That tire's only flat, on the bottom." won't
work in connection with the old Stanley Steamer owned by W. Scott Libbey
Sr. These wheels are flat all around the rim, but, boy, could they roll
just the same. On exhibition at the Auto Show at the Armory Friday and
Saturday, the old dust-raiser holds interest for Roland Lavesque, the driver,
and Reginald Levesque, the skipper, Raymond Ouellette, in the back, looks like
a stowaway that doesn't believe the thing's gonna go unless somebody pushes.
            

            The Lewiston Evening Journal story of October 17, 1939, relives tales of W. S. Libbey and his Stanley:

Scott Libbey's Old Stanley Steamer to be shown at Armory
            At the Automobile Show in the Armory, Friday and Saturday an interesting automobile is going to be exhibited; one that will make many a Lewiston and Auburn resident do some thinking will cause some of them to remember exciting, hair-raising, breath-taking, adventurous rides. There will be others in this section of Maine wish, if they could see the "old boat," would have the same sensation, from in its day, 25 years ago. It was widely known and its owner widely respected.            It is the W. Scott Libbey Sr.'s old Stanley Steamer.
            It was a great car for those days, just as its owner was one of the great men of his times.
            No one will ever know how fast it was in those days, but anytime that Scott was in a hurry it didn't in the least disturb him to yank the throttle open to the point where she was doing 70, which was traveling, on the roads of those years.
            Usually, there was something the matter with the speedometer so that it didn't register. Mr. Libbey never admitted that such was the fact. He would always explain that something had "happened" to it and he'd not had the time to fix it. In the minds of those who knew him, it was accepted that whatever had "happened" did so thru the well-directed hand of W. Scott Libbey, Sr.
            The old machine, which was of the runabout type, painted yellow, has been stored at the Libbey summer place in Wayne since his death in 1914. It had been there for some time before that, as the year or two earlier he purchased a more up-to-date gas motored touring car. Incidentally, if memory serves correctly, this was the first car equipped with electric lights to be owned in these cities. It wasn't as fast as the old runabout, but it had more room.
            Favorite Pastime
            One of Mr. Libbey's pastimes was giving his friends rides. It might well be described as his favorite outdoor sport.
            He would invite them to go for a ride or if they said they had to go someplace, would offer to take them. Once they were in the seat he'd head for the open road and then away they'd go. He'd give the engine all it would take and that meant speed, for those old steamers would travel.
            Road conditions bothered him not in the least. he had an iron nerve and feared nothing. Above all else, he had unbounded confidence in W. Scott Libbey. he knew that he could drive, knew the roads, knew the car and that was enough for him.
            His passengers didn't always have that same confidence. They would all have been willing to take his judgment in a business deal, would have risked their last dollar on his financial judgment, but their necks were different. When he had landed them at their destination and, as they got out, said in his quiet voice:
            "I'll give you a ride again,"
            They invariably answered:
            "I'm _____ if you will!"
Ride To Be Remembered
            This writer had many of those rides, not all because he loved them, but in the line of duty. In his day, W. Scott Libbey, Sr., produced many good stories, and it frequently became necessary for the writer to take trips with him. W. S. knew he was frightened and was always seeing if he could force an admission to it. The wildest was on a trip from Portland.
            We had been to Portland on a yarn for progress in the construction of progress on the Portland Interurban electric road, which he and his partner Harry M. Dingley were building. It had been an all-day trip, visiting practically every section of the line, ending with a very late supper at one of the construction camps.
            In those days the Portland road was a much different story from what it is today. It was sandy, rocky and rough. Most of today's automobile drivers would refuse to drive over it. If they did they'd refuse to try and do more that 15 miles an hour, if they'd try that. Libbey usually idled along at 30.
            It was a clear cool, bright moon-light night in late September. The hour was late when the camp was left, so that it was around 1 a.m., when the long grade in Cumberland, on the Auburn side of the Gray road woods, was reached. Mr. Libbey had been coming along at a speed which was more than sufficient for the writer, but when he struck his town grade he gave her the gun.
            How that car traveled!
            The writer's cap blew off and it was two miles further on before he was able to speak. By that time it wasn't worth while to go back and try and find it, so nothing was said. At last he spoke:
            "How'd (you) like it?"
            "Can't you go faster?"
            The writer's teeth were chattering when he said it.
            "You're a liar!"
            It was a gleeful shout by Mr. Libbey.
            The automobile show will be open at 1 p.m., Friday. All available space has been taken by local automobile dealers, but there will be room for as such extra attractions as a gas model airplane demonstration.

   ________________



A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days at Seashore Trolley Museum

Click Here: For Full Schedule of All Activities  July 21-23 and online ticket sales to the Friday Opening Gala 

Mark your calendars (purchase your Friday-opening tickets in advance) and plan to attend the 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days Event July 21-23, 2017

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

Click Here: First Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - W. S. Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer
Click Here: Second Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Suzanne Buzby Hersey - "My Maine"
Click Here: Third Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Wade Zahares - Artist


More details on the celebration will be announced soon.
The Friday activity requires a ticket to be purchased in
advance. There is limited seating for the Friday gala
opening activity. Saturday and Sunday are
general admission public offerings at


The Narcissus Project Blog was created in April 2015 for the purpose of reaching out to a large number of folks through the power of social media to introduce them to the Narcissus. The Narcissus is a luxury, high-speed, wooden electric interurban. The Narcissus was built in 1912 in Laconia, NH and operated on the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, in Maine, between Portland and Lewiston, from 1914 into 1933. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914. The blog posts appeal to folks with an interest in Theodore Roosevelt's connection to Maine, to folks generally interested in regional/local history, as well as those folks within the greater railway family. Hopefully, these posts will endear many of the readers to help support the Narcissus financially, as it undergoes a complete restoration over the next few years at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. 



We Did It!! 

$40,000 Raised!

Your Donations to the Narcissus Combined to Achieve the Goal Set Nineteen Months Ago. Raise $40,000 for the Narcissus to Meet the Challenge of the Matching Grant from the 

This brings the Combined Total Amount of Donations to the
Narcissus, based on the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation's matching grants to $100,000!  

The $40,000 donation will be the 2nd donation to the Narcissus from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation as a result of successfully raising funds for a matching grant. A previous $10,000 matching grant challenge was achieved in 2014.

Donations made to the Narcissus Fund 816-A, for the remainder of 2017 and until further notice,
 will be used for work and materials needed to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU....
Your Donation Matters....
Make a Donation TODAY....

Please Help the Narcissus
Donations are now being raised to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

Donation Options to Help Restore the Narcissus:


The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at finance@NEERHS.org or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: finance@NEERHS.org and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at finance@NEERHS.org or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit,
educational, organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, pmorse31@gmail.com or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You to our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2017/2014 Matching Grant Challenges
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
* New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2017/2016/2015
The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016
Seal Cove Auto Museum


The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo


Please Consider Making a Donation to the Narcissus Restoration Project. We are currently raising funds to restore the interior of this Maine gem.

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - 100-Plus


Link to Libb(e)y Family connections


Click Here - Portland Public Library Presentation - History of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - The Man and His Mill
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - His 1908 Stanley Steamer K 30-hp Semi-Racer
Click Here - W. Scott Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer History to be Featured - July 21, 2017
Click Here - Scrapbook Celebrates the People of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - May 18, 1914, Newspaper Story on the Passing of PLI Builder, W. Scott Libbey
Click Here - 102nd Anniversary of the Opening of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - 83rd anniversary of the Closing of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - Sophia, W. S. Libbey Descendant Visits the Narcissus
Click Here - Libb(e)y Family Connection to Narcissus becomes Personal
Click Here - Ode To the Grand Old Interurban
Click Here - The Portland-Lewiston Interurban "Bouquet" is Ordered (1912)

Links to Narcissus Restoration Work:
Click Here - Ornate Leaded Stained Glass Work
Click Here - Narcissus Enters Town House Restoration Shop
Click Here - Sorting and Cleaning Materials on Interior of the Narcissus
Click Here - September 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 14, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - Beautiful Brass of the Narcissus
Click Here - December 28, 2015 Restoration Update
Click Here - January 4, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - Vallee Family Photos of Narcissus 1960s
Click Here - February 11, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - A Wooden Interurban - Restoration Info
Click Here - NRHS 2016 Heritage Grant Award to Narcissus
Click Here - Announcement of 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days Fundraising Event for the Narcissus
Click Here - Series of Restoration Posts related to work on exterior poplar frames
Click Here - Vintage Poplar used in Narcissus restoration
Click Here - Mahogany Sash passenger windows being restored
Click Here - "A President Has Ridden in My House!" - Video of Dan Vallee
Click Here - Teddy Roosevelt Days 2016 - Weekend Event Benefits the Narcissus
Click Here - August 2016 Restoration Update
Click Here - Mid-September Restoration Update
Click Here - Theodore Roosevelt & the Narcissus: Connecting Maine Communities
Click Here - How to Make New Seats for the Narcissus?
Click Here - 2016 Summary of Research and Outreach
Click Here - 2016 Restoration Summary


Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today. 
 Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.


1 comment:

  1. "Can't you go faster?" says the writer. Indeed! Nice work, Phil.

    ReplyDelete