Friday, May 12, 2017

Cell Phone for the Narcissus Arrived Today!! - 1903 Model ;)

The image that inspired a search.
Portable magneto phone - Railroad Telephone
Image from the Maine Historical Society
Object #2004.090.0622

Image from the Maine Historical Society
Object #2004.090.0622
Image from the Maine Historical Society
Object #2004.090.0622

Thank you to Seashore Trolley Museum member/volunteer, Glen Snow, for initially sending me the live link to the Maine Historical Society's Portland-Lewiston Interurban collection page (the link is below). One of the interesting objects with that collection is this Railroad Telephone. It looks like it is in terrific condition.

These phones were placed in a register station for the conductor/motorman to use to contact the dispatcher in Lewiston for orders. Along the PLI there were two register stations; one at Deering Junction in Portland at the start of the private right-of-way of the PLI, and one at the Fairview Junction in Auburn, at the end of the PLI right-of-way.

The phone in each of the register stations and perhaps inside
each of the substations may have been a crank phone
similar to this one that was used many years in Town
House Restoration shop at Seashore Trolley Museum.

Each of the cars was also equipped with these portable phones.

Undated newspaper clipping detailing the use of these
portable emergency telephones in use at the
Portland-Lewiston Interurban.
Image from the PLI Employees Scrapbook in the
O. R. Cummings Collection

Phone in use March 1920
From O. R. Cummings book, Maine's Fast Electric Railroad pg. 82

Here are excerpts of phone use, and descriptions of phone use from Portland to Lewiston on the Arbutus during the summer of 1921, from O. R. Cummings's 1967 book, Maine's Fast Electric Railroad speaking to the use of the telephones:

pg. 41
 "When necessary, train crews were given orders at the substations, the operators of which displayed flags to notify the conductors to call the dispatcher. These operators also noted the time of train arrivals and departures and forwarded the information to the dispatcher for entry on the train sheet. For emergencies, each car was equipped with a Western Electric portable telephone set and a jointed contact rod so conductors could tap the telephone wire running alongside the track and call the dispatcher."

pg. 63
"The Arbutus is brought to an easy stop alongside a wooden platform and the register station. L'Heureux (the conductor) unlocks the door of the telephone booth and steps inside to call the dispatcher for orders. We see him writing on a pad of order forms and then, through the open window, we hear him repeat slowly the instructions, "Meet Extra 40 Westbound at Forest Lake and Extra 34 Westbound at Danville." After a brief pause, the conductor hangs up the phone, writes on the pad again and tears off two sheets, the original order, and a carbon copy. "Joe Happy" then fills out a clearance card in duplicate, registers the train and leaves the booth, closing and locking the door. Boarding the car, he gives the now familiar two bells signal and strides forward to give Mitchell (the motorman) his copies of the order and clearance card."

PLI electric locomotive No. 90 at Deering Junction. Deering Junction served
as the Register Station, Cattle run and Freight Platform.
Photo from the O. R. Cummings Collection

Train Orders and Clearance Card forms from the PLI.
Image from O. R. Cummings's 1967 book,
Maine's Fast Electric Railroad

pg. 65
"As we continue on, we go by Interurban Heights, Arsenault Park, and Hazelhurst and at 10:30, right on the dot, we're at Fairview. "Joe Happy" enters the phone booth to register off the line and once he is aboard the car again, the Arbutus takes the switch and enters the trackage of the Androscoggin & Kennebec Railway's Mechanic Falls line."

Fairview Station on June 30, 1933 - two
days after the closing of the PLI line. I'm
surprised someone hadn't removed the
horseshoe, from the upper left side of the
station, to keep as a souvenir.  Photo
from the O. R. Cummings Collection
From O. R. Cummings 1967
book, Maine's Fast Electric Railroad

Maine Historical Society description of the above telephone:

"An early portable telephone, manufactured by the Western Electric Company of Chicago, Illinois and commonly used for communicating with interurban trolleys and trains during the early decades of the twentieth century. The telephone is contained in a wooden box with a leather handle at top, cast-metal corners, and feet (one of these has been replaced with a hexagonal pipe fitting), and the remnants of a black-and-gold "Western Electric" manufacturer's printed label at the front/ Two flat steel hanging irons are attached to the top rear of the box. A hinged compartment at the front of the box contains a nickel-plated handset with a bakelite earpiece. A small bakelite push-to-talk button is located on the side on the handset; stamped into the grip is the notation "Pat in USA Aug 18, 1903". The earpiece housing is stamped "Western Electric Company 131 W70", and the microphone housing is stamped "Western Electric Company, pat. in USA Aug 18 03" and "285W". A cloth-covered cable connects the handset to a modern plastic-covered four-wire cable with alligator clip terminal on the other side of the box. A metal housing supports the handset cradle and houses the gongs, clapper, and actuator coils of the telephone's ringer.

A steel crank with a bakelite knob located to one side of the wooden box powers an internal five-bar magneto. Also wired into the system and held by a bakelite plate are two Eveready No. 6 "Long Life Railroad and Industrial Cell" dry-cell batteries with paper labels manufactured by the Union Carbide Corporation. Painted on the center bar of the magneto is a black-and-gold "Western Electric" label."

The "Search Terms" text box of the Maine Historical Society listing of the telephone includes one term: Central Maine Power Company.

The Central Maine Power Company acquired the capital stock of the Androscoggin Electric Company on April 1, 1920, and thus, became the owner of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban as well. CMP was the owner of the PLI when the operations came to an end in 1933. If you are interested in seeing other PLI objects that were donated to the Maine Historical Society by CMP and by Gertrude Libbey Anthony (daughter of the builder of the PLI, W. S. Libbey), here is the link to the page with the objects. Objects include; PLI employee badge, wooden insulator, Timetable, a bell/gong from the Arbutus, Platform Gong from the Arbutus, Simplex Electric Range, Simplex Range Kettle, Photographs, Simplex Range Saucepan, Street Railway Lamp (bulb), Lanterns, Hanger brackets from the Arbutus, and a Trolley Wheel from the Arbutus. To go to the MHS online page: Click HERE

After looking at the objects in the MHS, PLI/Arbutus collection, I shared the images of the telephone with Trolley Museum shop staff and volunteers that have worked on the Narcissus. We are always interested and generally surprised when objects of the PLI that are a hundred years old or so, seemingly "appear" for us to admire. 

Well, early last week, Ernie Eaton, a Trolley Museum shop staff member, sent me an email with a live link to an object on eBay. The link was to a Railroad telephone made by the American Electric Company. Visually, looked very much like the Western Electric telephone that MHS has. In looking the American Electric phone over, eBay had a series of images of other objects of a similar topic. There, low and behold, was an image of a Western Electric Company Telephone with a pat. date of August 18, 1903! Needless to say, it was a "Buy Now" decision :)

This phone will be a great addition to the Narcissus project story. The phone will travel with us as part of an exhibit at various speaking engagements Donald Curry and I have scheduled this summer. It will also be a regular participant in any displays or exhibits we may have set up as we attend various community gatherings in the coming months/years. I am so happy to have our new "cell" phone :)

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

Teddy Roosevelt Days is a Fundraising Event
To Benefit the

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 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: 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 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, 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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