‘Speeder Rides’ available at Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

  • “Speeder Rides” are available on the first Sunday of each month throughout the 2022 season at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • “Speeder Rides” are available on the first Sunday of each month throughout the 2022 season at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2022 4:09:44 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — The popular “Speeder Rides” at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum are available the first Sunday of each month throughout the 2022 season.

Speeders — also known as motorcars, putt-putts, section cars, railway motor cars and track maintenance cars, as well as other names — are small four-wheeled railroad vehicles propelled by a gas-powered engine. According to the museum, they were developed to replace hand-powered cars of similar size to lower the amount of physical labor needed to get to a job site. They were built by several U.S. companies, the most common builder being Fairmont. They were called speeders because it was faster than a human-powered vehicle, such as the hand car.

According to Joshua Redenz, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum’s safety and training director, several of the museum’s members privately own examples of these vehicles and are excited to share them with the public during “Speeder Days.” Rides will be included in the cost of admission to the museum, which includes trolley rides, pump car rides (for those who meet minimum safety requirements), and visits to the caboose and Visitors Center that houses the museum, kids corner and gift shop. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 12 years old, and anyone under 6 is admitted for free.

According to the museum, the origin of speeders dates to 1896, when Daimler Co. created a gasoline-powered rail inspection car capable of going 15 mph. That was the same year Trolley No. 10 — which sits at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum — was built in Springfield and started operating between Shelburne Falls and Colrain. Most speeders were replaced in the 1990s by pickup trucks and utility vehicles with flanged wheels that could travel on rails.

Sam Bartlett, museum president and general manager, said the speeders have been popular at Trolleyfests.

“People will come back other days and say, ‘Where’s the speeder? We want to ride the putt-putt,’” he said.

Bartlett said he thinks speeders will continue their popularity.

“We got the speeder that we have 20 years ago, probably,” Bartlett mentioned. “It was loaned to us by a couple of people from Amherst, Harvey and Charlie Allen, who bought it but didn’t have a place to … run it.”

The museum is open on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., and during July and August on Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m. Visit sfth.org for more information.

Reach Domenic Poli
at 413-772-0261, ext. 262 or dpoli@recorder.com.


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