Visit

Donate

Volunteer

About Us

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Why the New Look?

Notice the three left tabs: Visit, Do­nate, Vol­un­teer. The web site has been re­designed to highlight the fact that these three concepts are the pillars that together support a vibrant and suc­cessful museum.

Visit—Visitation is the whole reason for our ex­is­tence as a New York State chartered non-​profit ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion. We already at­tract people from far and wide to take the ride, admire the international trolley col­lec­tion and see related ex­hib­its in the Visitors Center. How­ever it is a con­tin­u­ous process to improve the visitor experience to make it more re­lat­able, more educational and more fun for all ages!

Donate—Donations, or fund raising in gen­er­al, takes many forms including mem­ber­ships, gen­er­al donations, business support, bequests, en­dow­ments and fund raising events. The mu­se­um con­tin­ually seeks new funding sources in order to improve its ed­u­ca­tional value. Re­li­able funding is needed for res­to­ra­tion, main­te­nance, exhibit de­vel­op­ment, train­ing, elec­tri­fication or any ex­pan­sion or im­prove­ments to the museum.

Volunteer—Volunteers make the museum go 'round, keep the doors open and the operation run­ning. The museum was founded in 1955 by volunteers, moved from Brook­lyn to Kingston in 1983 by volunteers, and since operated for over 30 Sum­mers by volunteers. Sure, we've had the oc­ca­sion­al part-time employee as funding per­mit­ted and wish to hire again. But one thing that will never change is the need for a steady in­flux of new volunteers with a variety of skills, back­grounds and interests to keep the or­ga­ni­za­tion vital and grow­ing.

Our vision and future direction

The Trolley Museum of New York (TMNY) has been in downtown Kingston on the Rondout Waterfront since 1983. TMNY became an es­tab­lished attraction on East Strand just as the area started its rise as a popular tourist destination and evening dining hot spot. Now the Trolley Museum is a top thing to do for all visitors to the vital Kingston Waterfront!

Soapbox Derby construction gang

Background

TMNY is a New York State chartered non-profit educational or­ga­ni­za­tion that was founded in Brooklyn in 1955. The museum offers a ride for the pub­lic and through exhibits and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams shares the rich history of rail transportation and the role it played in the Hud­son Valley region and else­where.

In addition to static displays of trolley and subway cars from the United States and Europe, an excursion ride runs 1½ miles from the foot of Broad­way in Down­town Kingston to picnic grounds on the shore of the Hudson River at Kingston Point. Picnic tables are available at each of the the three main stops on the trolley line: T. R. Gallo Me­mo­ri­al Park (Down­town at Rondout Creek), Kingston Point Park and the museum itself.

museum building in 2010
The museum building following a $250,000 upgrade in 2010
 

Everett White in car 250 Everett White operates car 250, 1957

The museum is located on the original site of the Ulster and Delaware Rail­road yards at Mile­post 1. The museum build­ing is on the foundation of the engine house that existed before 1900. The up­per level includes a Visitors Center fea­turing seasonal and per­ma­nent displays, a video viewing area and large windows over­looking the res­to­ra­tion shop. Visitors can see up to eight trolley cars being housed and restored below.

The Trolley Museum of New York is a member of the Association of Tourist Rail­ways and Rail­way Museums and American As­so­ci­a­tion of Museums.

Early museum history 1955-1985

The Trolley Museum of New York was started in Brooklyn, NY, in 1955 by Everett A. White when the last trolley lines in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Brooklyn were being abandoned. By 1957, the museum had acquired four trolleys. These included Atlantic City car #250, built by the J. G. Brill Co. in 1917; Brooklyn double ended Peter Witt trolley car #8361, built in 1925; Brooklyn PCC trolley #1000 delivered in 1936, the only all aluminum car built by Clark Equip­ment Co.; and the last trolley to travel across the Queensborough Bridge, car #601, a former New Bedford Master Unit car built by Osgood-Bradley in 1932.

From 1957 to the early 1960's, the museum had a difficult time finding a permanent home for the four cars in its collection causing the cars to be stored in various lo­ca­tions throughout NYC. The first two trolleys were stored at the B&O yards in Staten Island, car #1000 at the NYC Transit Authority's Coney Island shops and car #601 at the Queens­borough Bridge lines former Manhattan underground ter­mi­nal at 59th Street and 2nd Ave.

79 in Brooklyn
Gothenburg trolley 79 operating in Brooklyn, 1961

During the 1960's all of the museum's four cars were stored to­geth­er at the B&O yards in Staten Island. But as luck would have it, the track they were stored on was to be removed to make way for a parking lot. It was at this time many of the original vol­unteers started to lose interest. Many of them were attracted to other museums that had similar equipment that was operated rather than just main­tained. In 1961, our then Chairman of the Board, Mr. Francis Voyticky, attempted to organize an op­er­at­ing museum in Brooklyn using Swedish trolley #79, but the attempt failed and the trolley was sold to the Edaville Railroad in South Carver, Massachusetts.

In 1964, the Trolley Museum acquired interurban car #411, which was delivered to the South Brooklyn Railway yards at Avenue Z and Shell Road in Brooklyn. The museum was able to operate the car for several years, but was unable to obtain a commitment for per­ma­nent use of the site. As a result, the interurban was sold to the trolley museum in East Troy, Wisconsin.

In 1968, the museum's original four cars were moved from St. George to the Trolley Valhalla Museum in Tansboro, New Jersey. Overhead wire was already installed here and trolleys were in operation. Preparations were being made to place the Trolley Museum of New York's trolley in operation when the Valhalla group failed to exercise a lease on the property with the option to buy, resulting in their eviction from the property. We were permitted to stay until we found a new location.

peter witt moves out
The Peter Witt is loaded in Brooklyn for its move to Staten Island, 1957

The following year, 1969, a new location in Morristown, New Jersey was lo­cated at the Morristown and Erie Railroad. We were given a thirty year lease with operating rights. Unfortunately, the railroad ended up in Federal bank­ruptcy court and we ended up back where we started from in Brooklyn, at Avenue Z and Shell Road. During the stay in Mor­ris­town, the original Pres­i­dent of the museum, Everett A. White, was replaced by George Hassoldt.

Starting in 1972, John DeRoos, head of the Transit Authority of New York, encouraged the museum to purchase three Boston PCC trolley cars, #3204, #3214 and #3216. Plans were made to operate the cars as a tourist at­traction on McDonald Avenue in Brooklyn while cars #1000 and #8361 were being re­stored in the Coney Island shops, when the Transit Authority came under the control of a new manager. The new manager did not support the idea of an operating museum on transit property and we were ordered to leave.

It is now July 1982, George Hassoldt resigned as president and Mr. Francis Voyticky was elected to succeed him. The treasury was nearly bare and the pros­pect of a successful relocation seemed quite dim. It was also during this time that three Philadelphia trolleys donated by Joseph Kimbrig, the mu­se­um's 1st Vice President, were under a 90 day deadline to be moved from the South East Philadelphia Transit Authority (SEPTA) yards and had no place else to go.

Near the end of the 90 days, a new location as found at the Brooklyn Union Gas Company in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Trucker Joe Supor was dispatched to Philadelphia and arrived there on the 91st day only to find that the cars had already been cut up for scrap by the SEPTA officials. It was this misfortune that actually did our museum a great deal of good.

old building sign

The story of the trolley cars was picked up by the Philadelphia newspapers and made the wire services. It was read in Kingston by Ms. Hidegarde Frey, who brought it to the at­ten­tion of Mr. Stephen Finkle, her boss at the Ulster County Development Corporation. Mr. Finkle in turn brought the story to the at­ten­tion of the Mayor of the City of Kingston, Mr. Donald Quick, and negotiations were started with the museum for leasing part of the recently abandoned track in Kingston.

car 120
Car 120 in its first days of operation in Kingston, 1983

In April of 1983, the Trolley Museum reached an agreement with the City of Kingston Mayor, the Kingston Board of Al­der­men and the Ulster County Legislature to lease the abandoned former Penn Central (Ulster & Delaware) rail branch to Kingston Point. Operation for the public began July of 1983 using car #120, a Brill Model 55 gasoline car.

By 1984, a total of eight subway and trolley cars were moved to the Kingston site. A trolley barn (gray metal building) was constructed to house two Eu­ro­pe­an trolleys that were donated to us by Joe Supor. In addition, four other trolleys were moved to various locations to be re­con­structed. In 1985, two additional pieces of equipment were moved to Kingston, one being a Staten Is­land pas­senger car that was damaged by fire. The volunteers to­tal­ly re­con­structed the car and it was used as our gift shop and loading plat­form until it was destroyed by fire in October, 1991. Also in 1985, our volunteers re­con­structed the track link between our main line and the branch to the Maritime Museum. In 1988 at a cost of only $60,000 the current main museum building was constructed.