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Trolleyfest brings back memories, makes memories for attendees

  • Bill Burns and Barbara Burns of Clermont, Fla., pump a pedal car at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum during Trolleyfest Saturday, July 22, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Visitors to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum wait for a ride in the caboose at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Martin Wood explains the history of trolley car No. 10 to visitors to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum during Trolleyfest Saturday, July 22, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Martin Wood explains the history of trolley car No. 10 to visitors to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum during Trolleyfest Saturday, July 22, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Fred Hepburn and his son Cameron Hepburn, 8, of Russell, look out the window of the cupola of a caboose at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum during Trolleyfest Saturday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt



Recorder Staff
Monday, July 24, 2017

SHELBURNE FALLS — Looking out the cupola window from a 1910 caboose, 4-year-old Ian Longhurst of Williamstown waved to his grandmother, Jean McClellan of Woodstock, Conn.

“Hi, Nana!” he shouted, as McClellan took his photo.

Exploring the caboose at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum was one of many new experiences Ian and his 2-year-old brother Oliver had at the museum’s 18th annual Trolleyfest Saturday.

“The caboose, so far, is their favorite thing,” Ian and Oliver’s father Mark Longhurst said as the boys prepared to climb down from the cupola.

The family, which also included Ian and Oliver’s mother Faith McClellan, and Jean’s husband Jock McClellan, heard about Trolleyfest a few weeks ago when Ian, Oliver, Mark and Faith visited the museum.

“(Ian) said this was the coolest place on the whole earth,” Faith McClellan recounted. The whole family marked the calendar, using Trolleyfest as a way to meet between their homes in Williamstown and Connecticut.

Having an interest in trains, Ian and Oliver listened intently as Jock McClellan taught them how a trolley would use electricity to move. Meanwhile, after taking a ride on Trolley no. 10, Jean McClellan remembered the last time she rode on one back in the 1950s.

“It was really special to ride the trolley,” she remembered of traveling from Canada. “As a kid from the country, it meant going to the city and doing something different.”

Thus Trolleyfest, Jean McClellan said, brought back a lot of old memories.

“That’s what all these things are about, to bring back memories and to make memories,” she said.

Indeed, organizers try to take visitors back in time, to when traveling by trolley would have been commonplace.

“Everything is all very integrated with what was happening during the trolley era,” Marie Bartlett, events coordinator for the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, said to describe Trolleyfest.

The event featured old-fashioned games for children like hoop rolling, jump rope, a dollhouse and homemade stilts crafted from coffee cans and rope, as well as old-fashioned treats like lemonade served in small glass jars.

Within the barn dedicated at last year’s Trolleyfest were a lot of displays, teaching children how to milk a cow or weave garments, since the trolley would have been very important for transporting goods like textiles, Bartlett said. Pickles, pie and a drink all made with apple cider vinegar were available for tasting, hearkening back to the days when 500,000 gallons of apple cider vinegar was made each year, she continued.

Plus, Trolleyfest served to showcase historically-accurate improvements made to the fan-favorite caboose, like painted floors, a bed and coach seats.

For Glenda Gibson of Ashfield, Trolleyfest seemed like “the perfect opportunity” to let her two children, James, 8, and Seraphina, 11, ride the trolley for the first time. But James and Seraphina also got great enjoyment from the old-fashioned toys, clanking around in front of the museum on the coffee can stilts.

On a bench not far away, Helen Hill, 83, of Greenfield, waited for her 25-year-old granddaughter Carly Stevens of Shelburne Falls to come back from her ride on the trolley. Along with other family members, the two attended to simply enjoy the old-fashioned music, but Hill found plenty of other activities to expand her knowledge of history.