Tuesday, April 4, 2017

O. R. Cummings - 1925-2013 - Author of More than Fifty Books on Electric Railways

O. R. Cummings on the cover of May-June 2013 "Dispatch"
Newsletter of the New England Electric Railway
Historical Society (NEERHS). NEERHS is the 501c3
organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley
Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine and the
National Streetcar Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts.

This Narcissus blog has released nearly one hundred posts in the past two years and many of them have utilized information or materials from publications or photos from O. R. Cummings. O. R. passed away early in 2013. Over nearly twenty years, he was always willing to respond to my many requests for details on a particular electric vehicle or railway. He wrote letters of support for grant applications and was very happy to be able to ride on the 1906 electric locomotive, Atlantic Shore Line No. 100, during its ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of its restoration in September 2009. O. R. so wanted to see the Narcissus completely restored to operating condition. I am very grateful to O. R. for his gifts of published works and the vast collection of electric railway materials he donated to the NEERHS Library. Thank you, O. R.

       The May-June 2013 issue of the Dispatch included the obituary for O. R. Cummings:

       Seashore's Historian Emeritus, Osmund Richard Cummings passed away on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, in Manchester, NH. The son of Orrin E. and Mary (Audley) J. Cummings, he was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts on May 15, 1923, and lived there and in nearby Manchester, NH the greater part of his life.

       Known to almost no one as Osmund, to few as "Dick", and to most as simply "O.R.," O.R. Cummings was THE historian of electric railways in New England. O. R. was a longtime Seashore member, serving as Trustee, Chairman of the Board, Historian, and Historian Emeritus.

       Seashore published a number of O.R.'s books, including Trolleys to York Beach and Atlantic Shore Trolleys, and others from Maine and other parts of northern New England. Like Ira Swett on the West Coast, O. R. was OUR High Priest of Electric Traction and justly proud of the more than 100 books and articles to which he attached his name. These remain his remarkable legacy. O. R.'s best-known works were his five-volume series on the Massachusetts Northeastern Street Railway and a six-volume compendium, Streetcars of Boston.

       O. R. was a 1940 graduate of Amesbury High School, attended Bates College for two years and was graduated from the Bentley School of Accounting and Finance, now Bentley College, in 1948.

       Cummings served in the U. S. Coast Guard for three years during World War II and in the U. S. Navy for nearly a year during the Korean Conflict.

       He worked in the newspaper business for many years, starting with the Newburyport Daily News as a reporter from 1948-1956. At this, he joined the newsroom staff of the Manchester Union Leader. He was a copy editor when he retired in January 1987.

       O. R. also belonged to the 470 Railroad Club of Portland, Maine; Mass. Bay Division, Railroad Enthusiasts; the Boston & Maine Historical Society, Central Electric Railfans Association; the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum; the Manchester Historic Association; and the Boston Street Railway Association for which he authored two books and a number of articles.

       Cummings was one of the last of the real "old timers,"  who remembered and rode some of the iconic New England trolley systems including the Eastern Mass., Boston Elevated, Portland-Lewiston Interurban, and Androscoggin & Kennebec. As such, he could write as an eyewitness, something very few can now claim. His recollection of traction history was legendary and talking with him about his many adventures was an extraordinary experience and a real treat.

       A highpoint of his life came near the end, in November 2012, when he went on an Honor Flight New England-sponsored trip with 24 other veterans to tour the World War II Memorial, the Iwo Jima Monument, the Air Force and Navy monuments and other Washington, D. C. sites.

       The Society was privileged to have had O. R. as an active member for so many years and we will sorely miss him. His nearest relatives are three first cousins, and to them, we offer our most sincere and deepest condolences.


Two stalwarts of the Seashore Trolley Museum for decades, Lester H.
Stephenson, Jr. (L) and O. R. Cummings (seated) enjoying a moment in the
Connecticut Car Company No. 1160 in 2009.
PWM photo

Patricia Pierce Erikson (L) with O.R. Cummings during the ribbon-cutting
ceremony of the newly restored, 1906 Atlantic Shore Line electric
locomotive No. 100, at Seashore Trolley Museum in September 2009.
PPE photo

O.R. Cummings being assisted into the cab of ASL-100 prior to its inaugural
mainline trip during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly restored, 
1906 Atlantic Shore Line electric locomotive No. 100.
PPE photo at Seashore Trolley Museum in September 2009.

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.

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