Clang, clang, clang went the trolley: Lose a jolly hour at the annual Shelburne Falls Trolleyfest, Saturday, Sept. 30

  • Trolley No. 10 will offer rides to passengers during the annual Trolleyfest at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum on Saturday, Sept. 30. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Trolley Era reenactors Mabel Kingsley, 11, from left, Allie Martin, 11, and Sophia Rehmus ride Trolley No. 10 with passengers during the annual Trolleyfest at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum in 2018. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Children using the ciderpress at previous Trolleyfest celebrations. CONTRIBUTED

  • Children “milking” a cardboard cow at previous Trolleyfest celebrations. CONTRIBUTED

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2023 11:15:34 AM
Modified: 9/22/2023 11:14:53 AM

On Saturday, Sept. 30, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum will hold its annual Trolleyfest celebration from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. 

The festival celebrates the restoration of the historic Trolley Car No. 10. “The trolley made a big big difference in that period,” said Louis Musante, a volunteer at the Trolley Museum. “It is a celebration of the trolley of the time (the late 1800s/early 1900s) and everything that occurred in that period.” 

127 years ago, the Wason Manufacturing Co. of Springfield manufactured and sent to the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway Co. a new state-of-the-art trolley car, which featured electric lights and electric heaters. This trolley car, the first car acquired by the new railway company, served its namesake towns of Shelburne Falls and Colrain for 30 years until 1928. It has never left the Valley and spent 20 years of its life crossing the Deerfield River on the bridge now known as The Bridge Of Flowers.

The Trolley delivered goods and people across the hilltowns, boosting the manufacturing capability of the region and allowing children to attend school at the Arms Academy. It was popular before automobiles were used widely and allowed people to travel far distances more easily. 

“Although Colrain to Shelburne is a short distance in our age, it was a long distance before cars,” Musante said. 

When the trolley company went under in 1928, all of its assets were sold for scrap, except Trolley No. 10, which was saved by the Johnson family of Colrain and moved to their farm to serve as a chicken coop, tool shed, and other various uses for the next 65 years, at which time it was donated to the fledgling Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. After a complete restoration, Trolley No. 10 was returned to service on Oct. 9, 1999, and has operated at the museum ever since.

Rides available at the celebration include Trolley Car No. 10, a pump car and speeders (also known as a motorcar or putt-putt). 

In addition to the rides, there will be wooden and electric trains for children to play with.

New this year, people can learn Morse code with a demonstration from volunteers.

Back after a several-year hiatus is John Boyd’s blacksmith demonstration. Boyd creates the wall hooks, plant hangers and coat racks available at the gift shop.

Also at the festival is music by the band “Whistle Stop,” velocipede demonstrations, Trolley Era re-enactors, a quilt sale, maple products available for purchase from Davenports Maple Farm and screenings of railroad movies. 

The gift shop will be open all day, offering its train-related toys, puzzles and books. Copies of “The Little Yellow Trolley,” the story of Trolley No. 10, written by volunteer Marie Betts Bartlett, are also available for purchase. 

Hands-on demonstrations of cider and butter making will happen throughout the day. Children can play with the cutout cow-milking demonstration as well as games from the 1900s. 

Finally, the celebration will also include the annual Hugh Railroad paraphernalia tag sale where people can purchase all sorts of train paraphernalia. 

“Trolleys gave a huge advantage that is often overlooked, we are celebrating that during Trolleyfest,” Musante said.

The museum is located at 14 Depot St. in Shelburne Falls. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 17, and everyone younger gets in for free.

Reach Bella Carmela Levavi at 413-930-4579 or


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