Transportation & Transformation: New Grantee Exhibits on Maine Memory

Two online exhibit grant recipients from the Spring 2011 Community Mobilization Program grant cycle have just completed their projects–both having tackled substantial subjects that had a significant impact on large swaths of the State of Maine.

Entrance to Lake Grove Park, Auburn, ca. 1900, one of the images featured in the "In the Heart of Maine" section of the trolley park exhibit.

The Seashore Trolley Museum, in partnership with York County Community College library staff, put together two separate, but entirely related, exhibits on the history of the trolley car and its reach throughout the state from 1895-1940.

“The Trolley Parks of Maine” invites the reader to step back in time, and onto the latest, greatest, and cheapest mode of transportation as it winds its way throughout the state, stopping at lively resort destinations built and run by the railways. The festivities, fun, and, of course, food–every stop seemed to offer a sumptuous and renowned “shore dinner”–of these elaborate parks are described in rich sensory detail in four slideshows capturing a particular region: Greater Portland, southern Maine generally, central Maine, and along the coast.

"Merrymeeting" parlor car, Lewiston, ca. 1915

For those who want to know more about the trolley cars themselves, the second exhibit, “A Field Guide to Trolley Cars” satisfies that need and then some. Trolleys came in all shapes, sizes, colors, and purposes. Some 20 different types of cars are represented her under the categories of Passenger Cars, Freight Cars, and Utility Cars.

And now we move from a once ubiquitous and highly varied mode of public transportation that changed the landscape of nearly the entire state to a single person who transformed a region almost single-handedly.

Shepard Cary, Houlton, 1805-1866

“Shepard Cary: Lumberman, Legislator, Leader, and Legend,” created by a team from Cary Library and the Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum,” recounts the biography and influence of a larger-than-life figure from the northern reaches of the state. Cary, who lived from 1805-1866 and settled in Houlton, was responsible in a multitude of ways for developing “this tract of wilderness over 100 miles from Bangor.”

As a 13-term legislator, Cary kept northern issues front and center for a considerable number of years. And his highly successful S. Cary & Co. was a behemoth in the lumber industry, at one time supposedly employing around 2,000 men. Two pages from a substantial company ledger are featured in the exhibit, depicting accounts of other important Aroostook County figures who did business with Cary.

Stayed tuned for other grantee-produced exhibits in the coming weeks and months covering other compelling topics in the history of Maine!


About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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