Sunday, May 14, 2017

Car 38 - Seashore Trolley Museum's Laconia Car Company-built Collection

The hands of Seashore Trolley Museum member-volunteers,
Ed Dooks and his granddaughter Chelsey Pino, as they work
in unison to carefully peel away the paper from the newly
applied Laconia Car Company decal on the side sill of the
Laconia Car Company-built, and then newly restored, 1906
electric locomotive from the Atlantic Shore Line Railways,
No. 100. Image by PWM 6-30-2009

The Laconia Car Company was located in the center of
Laconia, NH. Over the years, it expanded and took up 7 acres
of land. There were woodworking shops, foundries, set-up
shops, storehouses, and paint shops. The extensive four-story
brick building was dedicated to the iron foundry, which was
connected with the car fabrication business.

     This blog is all about the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, No. 14, Narcissus.....which was built in 1912 by the Laconia Car Company. From time to time, a blog post will extend its coverage of related information to include electric railway topics that enhance understanding of the collection of Seashore Trolley Museum. This post will be one, in a series, that digs deeper into the Museum's collection of Laconia Car Company-built vehicles.

     Laconia Car Company was one of the important electric railway streetcar manufacturing companies at the turn of the 20th century. Seashore Trolley Museum has ten accessioned electric railway representatives from the Laconia Car Company among its collections. The Laconia collection at Seashore Trolley Museum is diverse. Starting with two early single-truck models from 1895, with a 1902, double-truck, streetcar, a 1904, double-truck, 15-bench, open car, a 1904 postal service/express car, a 1906 wooden interurban, a 1906 wooden steeple cab locomotive, a 1912 wooden interurban, a 1914 semi-convertible, and a 1918 semi-convertible.  Not all of these vehicles have been restored yet.

Three of these Laconia vehicles in Seashore's collection are listed in the National Register of Historic Places; 1904 Portsmouth Dover & York Street Railway, No. 108, wooden Railway Post Office/Express, 1906 Atlantic Shore Line, No. 100, wooden Steeple Cab Locomotive, and 1912 Portland-Lewiston Interurban, No. 14 - Narcissus, wooden Interurban Coach.

     This post will focus on the second car acquired by the early members of, what has become, Seashore Trolley Museum.

1906 - No. 38 - Manchester & Nashua Street Railway
Wood Interurban (Suburban) - Double/Air
Laconia Car Company - Seats: 40   L: 41' 0"  W: 8' 5"  Ht: 12' 1"  Wt:
Date Purchased: March 21, 1940

No. 38 on Seashore Trolley Museum's mainline 9-16-2006 PWM image

     The second car ever acquired by Seashore was No. 38, built by the Laconia Car Company in 1906 for the 18-mile run between the Merrimack Valley cities of Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire. It also saw considerable service between Manchester and Derry, and later was operated on the suburban run from Manchester to Goffstown. Car 38 has a railroad roof and double-width windows, an early forerunner of today's picture windows, and seats with green plush upholstery.
Acquired by Seashore when the rail lines in the Queen City were motorized in 1940, No. 38 has been thoroughly restored with polished cherry woodwork and new upholstery. The rather poorly designed and desperately battered Laconia 9B trucks have been extensively rebuilt, thanks to a generous grant from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, which also supports historic preservation. Worn surfaces were built up, oval bolt holes were filled in and redrilled, and new bolts and other fasteners were installed, though most of the original fabric was faithfully retained. Historic Cars: The National Collection at the Seashore Trolley Museum by Ben Minnich. 

     Video below is a short clip of No. 38 operating on Seashore Trolley Museum's mainline on September 25, 2009.

     From a 1987 interview conducted by Edward Dooks, see and hear the founder of Seashore Trolley Museum, Theodore Santarelli de Brasch, talk about how No. 38 was acquired and brought to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1940. The first minute of the video below is an intro then he tells the story of acquiring No. 38.
To watch the full interview of the beginning of Seashore Trolley Museum by Theodore Santarelli de Brasch - Click Here

     Edward Dooks, a long-time Seashore Trolley Museum member/volunteer, conducted, recorded, and transcribed, recollections of  Seashore Trolley Museum members' experiences involving the Museum. In addition, Ed recorded, collected, and transcribed recollections of local neighbors to Seashore Trolley Museum. Here are some of those transcriptions, as they relate to the acquisition of No. 38 in 1940.

Transcripts from 1988 interviews conducted by Ed Dooks. Interviewees:
A = John Amlaw, one of Seashore's original members
B = Henry Brainerd, one of Seashore's earliest members

A: We were on a fan trip over to Manchester and everybody liked those "rapid cars".  There were 2 sets of them. There were 12 altogether: 6 long ones and 6 short ones, and the long ones had been retired. They were up at Lake Massabesic as summer camps.

38 was originally numbered No. 4. It was renumbered in the '30s as 32. 38 had had a bad accident. The newspaper up in Manchester came out with quite an editorial about the miserable conditions of the cars and the terrific damage that had been done to this car. The MSR had 32 in the shops at the time being overhauled. They renumbered it to 38 and put it out in the street and said, "Now the newspaper is telling about all the damage that was done. How come if it was the car out in the street today?" It was a different car, and if you opened the inside panel on the left side of the doors on 38, in the body itself (bulkhead), you'll see old number 4, new number 32, nothing about 38.

No. 32 disguised as No. 38

Fan trip 1939
Seashore Trolley Museum Collection

Dooks: How did you get 38?

There was another fan trip and a number of people had seen what we had done with 31 and they said, "Well, suppose we buy 38. Can you take it over with 31?" And we said, "Sure."  That originally started as a separate group lead by Gordon Pilkington (from Danbury, CT and Roger Borrup) who came to us and said, "It hardly seems worthwhile to have two competing groups when we could pool our assets and thereby have twice as much track and wire and other supplies for the same amount of money instead of having two separate locations." (They also found how much was entailed in paying for it, moving it and finding a place to keep it and all details involved.) So, some of his people were members of Seashore, so everyone agreed it was a much better idea if we made it a cooperative effort and just had one group. (The other group was mostly from NH and CT)

Gordon Pilkington had not at that time even gone to the Manchester people to buy the car or to arrange for buying it, so we took over that end of it and went up to see Roger Moscroft who was the Executive Assistant of the Manchester Street Railway or the Power Company which owned the Street Railway.

Dooks: To get to Manchester Public Service my understanding from Ted (Santarelli de Brasch) said was that you had a big problem trying to get to the people to talk to you. They kept putting you off and he mentioned a way that they were able to get to the President of the company.

A: All I remember is that Roger Moscroft was sympathetic to us and I think he was the one who interceded. Their offices were up at (I think) 1000 Elm Street and they were in the same building, same set of offices and a different floor as the power company up there and the manager, as I recall he was probably 70 years old at the time, wouldn't see anybody, but as I said, Roger Moscroft saw him for us and arranged for an interview for us to go up and talk to him.

We agreed we would buy one of the cars. The only drawback was they were afraid that if there were a bad accident or fire and the car was destroyed that we would then hold them liable and want them to replace the car. So I told them that we would take in order either car No. 38, or 36 or 42 or 44, or if by any ill fortune none of them were available, simply return our deposit. On those conditions, the company gave us the contract and the price was $75 for the car body plus trucks and $50 for each of the (4) motors. We were not able to raise money enough to buy the motors, so we agreed to buy the car itself and the two trucks.

(When questioned about some difference in figures for the cost of 38 he said, "That was 48 years ago, and the original books I think were lost when Eliot Sterling took them out to his house because we had a nice dairy. It was a beautiful book, about 'that thick" and about 'so big' with plush covers on it and leather bindings, but he lost that completely and that gave all the story of the first days of Seashore; who went up there and what they did on those trips. It would have been worth its weight in gold today.")

At the time the company went out of the streetcar business and went to buses, Goodman, the junk man (later A said ran a second-hand place and junk shop in Manchester) who bought the cars (to break them up), was at the carbarn. Roger Moscroft came down said, "You've got everything in this building and the ones across the street except car 38." And Goodman asked him, "Now how about this car? Isn't this the one I don't get?" And Moscroft said, "That's right, This car and everything in it was bought by these people and they're going to take it over to Maine to preserve it, so don't touch anything on it." (later A says Moscroft said, "That car is theirs, everything just the way it stands." So he gave us the motors.) There were 3 or 4 of us there at the time looking over 38 to see what needed doing to it.

A: Incidentally, he offered us car 18 for nothing if we wanted to take it. It was a work car and he was just saying that it was so well built and maintained so well that he hated to burn it up, but we couldn't afford to move it at that time.

We used to go over there occasionally and work on the car even before they did away with the streetcars. They put the car on the track at the back of the barn where we could get to it and wouldn't interfere with anything and we would clean it and paint it and repair it. At the time 36 was going to be scrapped so we transferred the better stuff from it over to 38, such as cracked windows we replaced or torn seat cushions or broken panes of glass and things like this and afterward, someone bought 36 and took it down to Bedford, NH.

B: I think I heard he wanted to buy all three of them and make them into one long dinner or something and he was a bit unhappy that we got one of them.

Dooks: When 38 was moved, we turned on the power and you say whoever was the operating man or power man when he threw the switch in to energize the trolley wire, he hoped that people stealing the trolley wire would be on it and get the jolt. (His name was McFarland) 

A: Yes, they had stolen quite a bit of the wire, apparently over a period of 5 or 6 nights and the police were unable to catch them, at least they didn't, and they didn't want to leave the power on. I remember there was a big switch up on the pole and that switch was off. McFarland came over to us and said, "We'll turn the power on so you can run 38 down to the railroad station." So on this particular occasion, he said, "I just hope they're up there right now!!" They weren't and we didn't read anything about a fellow being hit by electricity and killed. Dan Twomey and Ted Santarelli were on board.

38 on the siding in Manchester 1940
Seashore Trolley Museum Collection

B: He ran the car down from the barn, down to the railroad crossing in the freight yards, derailed it, then rerailed it on the railroad. In other words, rode down the pavement and derailed it and rerailed it on the railroad, ran it about a few hundred feet to where he had the flatcar and then jacked it up and ran the flatcar under it/ It was unloaded in Kennebunk on a siding. (The body was moved to Seashore but) the trucks remained in Manchester. Chase Transfer supplied a little bit of a trailer and moved it from the railroad to Seashore and set it on blocks more or less over the end of the track but partly blocking the road on the ASL roadbed. As it went by the Kennebunk Inn, two ladies from Manchester were sitting on the front porch and one of them said to the other, "Oh, there's one of our Manchester trolley cars coming by.

38 being jacked up for placement on the flat car in Manchester 1940
Seashore Trolley Museum Collection

No. 38 on the rails - destination Kennebunk, Maine station, then a trip to
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport. 1940 image from the
collection of Seashore Trolley Museum

Loaded at the Kennebunk railroad station siding, 38 traveling
to its new home, Seashore Trolley Museum 1940
Seashore Trolley Museum Collection

We got to the Log Cabin Crossing. (It was called Biddeford Road, but was renamed Log Cabin Road later because there were one or two other streets called Biddeford Road or Old Biddeford Road and it was confusing. There was a tourist cabin with fake log cabins that was called "The Log Cabin" and so the road was named for that."

(I wasn't there) And then we got to the railroad crossing. At the time, the only protection was the train's whistling and someone had checked with the B & M dispatcher and found no trains were expected and we got over the crossing. It barely cleared the crossing when a freight train came by and then I think they had to use something to lift the telephone cable to get the car under it.

The next time I got back to Seashore, the car was standing on blocks, lined up over the end of the track and it stayed there a year to, I think it was 4th of July weekend of '41. I remember I found sleeping in that was much more comfortable than sleeping on the bench of 31 and I found you could take a seat cushion, prop it up in the aisle on a wooden soap box. It was much more comfortable sleeping than out in the chill of 31.

That summer of '40, there was a forest fire and I think the fire engines cut slightly, having to detour around where 38 stuck out over the roadway. The right-of-way belonged to the power company, then Cumberland County Power and Light before it became part of Central Maine Power. Sometime in '41, they said, "We damn well had to stop blocking the roadway any longer."

I think I remember that I was in on negotiating the trucks brought over and we had to make a deal with somebody and had to enroll him temporarily as a member to make it legal for him to bring them. We got them over there and they were placed right-way-round, lined up at either end, one on the track out on the roadway. I was there. Well, the day we actually did it, we had barely enough blocking and we first jacked up the end that was over the track and we had to get it damn high and we didn't really have enough blocking to follow up the jack, so we had it way up in the air and just on the jack with no protective blocking. The jack was pretty well extended and we could just about get the truck under the low platforms. (They stepped lower than the main body.) We got it under and let it down and put the kingpin in.....We got it down on July 4, 1941. I remember I was crawling under the car and the car not actually swaying but up pretty precariously on an extended jack, and I remember sort of thinking, "Well if anything happens, I'm a goner." Nothing happened, thank goodness....We got it up on the permanent track and took up the temporary rail that we laid then we had it on our land, clear of the roadway.

No. 38 at Seashore Electric Railway (Seashore Trolley
Museum) - top image circa 1946. lower image-probably
earlier. Images from the collection of Seashore Trolley
No. 38 outside of Shop #1. Circa 1956
Collection of Seashore Trolley Museum

No. 38 on the Town House Restoration shop lead at Seashore Trolley
Museum 3-29-2003 - Donald Curry image

Click Here: Video of Theodore Santarelli de Brasch explaining the "Birth" of Seashore Trolley - 1939

Additional blog posts on Seashore Trolley Museum's Laconia Car Company-built Collection:
Click Here: No. 14 - Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 38 - 1907 Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 60 - 1895 Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 100 - 1906 Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 108 - 1904 Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 235 & No. 50 - 1895 & 1902 Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 4175 - 1914 Laconia Car Company-built Collection
Click Here: No. 4387 - 1918 Laconia Car Company-built Collection

Restoration work continues on the Narcissus. The Narcissus is more than 100 years old now and has so many incredible stories to share. The restoration is but one.

     The Narcissus is featured in the national Gold Award-winning novel, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride. The "Elegant Ride" is the Narcissus. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914, between Lewiston and Portland, Maine, during campaigning for the Progressive Party candidates. June 2020

Independent book publisher, Phil Morse, holding
the Gold Book Award Winner plaque for
 the Middle Reader category for The Eric
Hoffer Book Award. Congratulations to
award-winning Maine author,
Jean M. Flahive

     The paperback edition of Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride can be purchased online through the Seashore Trolley Museum's store website. Books purchased through the Museum's website directly benefit the Museum and the Narcissus project. Amazon book purchases also benefit the Museum and the Narcissus.

Click Here to go to the Museum Store webpage to order online

Click Here to go to the Amazon page to order the book online

Click Here to go to the ebook page

Books are available at these local bookstores in Maine:
The Book Review, Falmouth
The Bookworm, Gorham
Letterpress Books, Portland
Nonesuch Books and More, South Portland
Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shops - All locations

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride
by Jean M. Flahive
Illustrations by Amy J. Gagnon

     Millie Thayer is a headstrong farmer's daughter who chases her dreams in a way you would expect a little girl nicknamed "Spitfire" would-running full tilt and with her eyes on the stars. Dreaming of leaving the farm life, working in the city, and fighting for women's right to vote, Millie imagines flying away on a magic carpet. One day, that flying carpet shows up in the form of an electric trolley that cuts across her farm. A fortune-teller predicts that Millie's path will cross that of someone famous. Suddenly, she finds herself caught up in events that shake the nation, Maine, and her family. Despairing that her dreams may be shattered, Millie learns, in an unexpected way, that dreams can be shared.
A resource for teachers 
Maine Historical Society has created companion lesson plans inspired by Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride - These State-standard-based lesson plans for classroom use in grades 6, 7, and 8 are now completed. They will be uploaded to the Maine Memory Network and will be included with the other statewide lesson plans K-12. Once a link is available, it will be posted here. The lesson plans will also be uploaded and available through the Seashore Trolley Museum's website later in July 2020. Go to the Teacher Resource Page in the pulldown for more details.

The ebook is available through Amazon Kindle Click HERE

The audiobook is now available Click HERE to go to the Audible page.

2-minute, 30-second, Retail Audio Sample of the Audiobook 

Award-winning author, Jean M. Flahive


Click Here to read the post - Coveted Blueink Starred Review  - Notable Book - January 20, 2020

Click Here to read the post - Three 5-Star Reviews from Readers' Favorite posted on January 6, 2020

Click Here to read January 24, 2020 - Four-Star Clarion Review

Click Here to read January 19, 2020 - Theodore Roosevelt Center Blog Post Review

Click Here to read the December 25, 2019 4-Stars out of 4-Stars Review through OnlineBookClub

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.

     Here is an example of how donations to the Narcissus Project now will help with the interpretation portion of the project. The interpretation programming will include exhibits, displays, education programming. During 2019, through generous donations to the Narcissus Project, we were able to conserve, replicate, and have high resolutions digital image files made of the original, 1910, 25.5-foot long, surveyor map of the elevation and grade of the 30-mile private right-of-way of the Portland, Gray, and Lewiston Railroad (Portland-Lewiston Interurban)
Thank You!

MUST-READ! - Click Here 

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. We are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

See below for Donation options -
It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 
Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

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 for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Renaissance Charitable Foundation (LPCT) by Fiduciary Trust Charitable Giving Fund
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
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 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* 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
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

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 Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story 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 - Index

The 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
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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