Following yearlong pandemic closure, Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum reopens

  • Volunteers Joshua Redenz, at left, and Nash Bly rebuild a section of the rail on which Trolley No. 10 operates at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Volunteer David Goff relocates the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum’s caboose. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2021 10:07:44 AM

SHELBURNE FALLS — After being closed for the entire 2020 operating season, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum reopened for the summer this past weekend.

With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum announced that normal operations can resume this season. However, face masks still need to be worn by staff and visitors on any track equipment — trolley, pump car, caboose, etc. — as well as inside and on the porch of the visitors center. Sanitizing stations are available, as well as masks for those who don’t have their own, according to the museum.

“Although the museum was not open during the past year, the volunteers have accomplished much work during this period, which is still continuing, and the staff is very excited to be able to again share their work with the public,” museum volunteer Louis Musante said in a statement announcing the opening.

The museum, at 14 Depot St., will return to its normal schedule, open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. During July and August, it will also be open on Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m.

According to the museum, ticket prices will remain at $4 for adults and $2 for children. Children under 6 years old are admitted for free.

Musante said he has been volunteering with the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum for the past six years, during which time he has held various positions including as a motorman and conductor. The museum has volunteers working year-round to repair and restore the cars and rails.

In preparation for reopening, Musante and the rest of the museum’s volunteers have been participating in operational training and qualifying programs overseen by Safety and Instruction Supervisor Joshua Redenz. Musante said the volunteers are excited to reopen and once again allow visitors to ride the restored Trolley No. 10. Built in Springfield in 1896, Trolley No. 10 was delivered to the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway on Oct. 1, 1896, and started carrying passengers on Nov. 1 of that year.

“For the next 30 years, the trolley carried passengers, freight and schoolchildren between Shelburne Falls and Colrain, crossing the Deerfield River on a bridge that the company had built for the trolley, and now known worldwide as the Bridge of Flowers,” Musante said in a statement.

When trolley service was discontinued in 1927, the trolley ended up in a local farmer’s field, serving as a playhouse, tool shed and chicken coop. Marshall Johnson, the farmer’s son, donated the car body to the museum in 1992, and it was totally restored before making its formal return to operations on Oct. 9, 1999. It operated seasonally until the pandemic arrived last year, and now it is ready to once again take visitors on a “15-minute trip back in time” in the same freight yard where it used to load and unload passengers, apples, mail, milk and other cargo more than a century ago.

“A restored caboose is also at the museum, which can be explored by visitors, and a pump car is often available for rides,” Musante added.

The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum is always seeking volunteers, and offers free training as needed. If interested, just speak with any crew member at the 14 Depot St. museum during open hours. For more information, visit sftm.org.




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