East Haven Trolley Museum Gets Back on Track

September 4, 2012
One of the refurbished trolleys at the East Haven Trolley Museum

One of the refurbished trolleys at the East Haven Trolley Museum

Hartford, CT – Senator Len Fasano (R-East Haven) is happy to announce the state bond commission has awarded a $1 million grant to the Shore Line Trolley Museum for the construction of two new trolley storage buildings.

“This grant is significant and will help the museum’s general manager in his effort to elevate the collection, which involves building new barns where the tracks that hold the trolleys will be higher than the flood level,” said Sen. Fasano.

“This grant will help get these trolleys out of harm’s way. It means so much to us. It’s huge,” said Trolley Museum General Manager Wayne Sandford.

The need to elevate the collection came after Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011. Miles of the trolley’s rail line were washed out. Equipment used by volunteers to fix the trolleys was ruined and saltwater and residue damaged the motors of the cars.

Trolley Museum General Manager Wayne Sandford said a majority of the museum’s collection of 100 trolleys – which are an average 100 years old – will be moved from their current location on a flood plain to two new buildings that will be constructed above the 500-year flood level. The idea is to also make sure the new barns are several feet above the high-water mark of the 1938 New England Hurricane, which is considered the most devastating in recent history and which buried the trolley property under 12 feet of water.

The value of the trolley collection is estimated at several tens of millions of dollars, he said.

“This action by the state will preserve an important part of Connecticut’s heritage for many, many years to come,” Sandford said.

Before Tropical Storm Irene, the museum had nearly 100 cars, about half were operational. After Irene, the museum was down to three trolleys.

“This museum is part of our regions history and should be preserved,” said Sen. Fasano.

Those who run the museum say it’s going to take years, and thousands of hours of volunteer work, just to fix the ruined motors. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) stepped in and helped the museum shortly after Irene, but officials are awaiting a second decision on another FEMA request.

To learn more about the museum visit www.ElevatingtheCollection.org.