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Heritage Trolley Site
Hosted by the Seashore Trolley Museum
Lowell, MA

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Lowell, Massachusetts

The Seashore Trolley Museum's New Orleans 966 operating in Lowell along with Gomaco replica 4131. No. 966 is in Lowell as part of an exhibit, On Track: Transit in the American City in Lowell and Across America. Click here for information about the exhibit.

The Lowell National Historical Park's heritage trolley line is the oldest continuing operation since the revival of interest in urban streetcar lines in the 1980s. Beginning service in 1984, the line is an essential part of the National Park's interpretation of life surrounding the huge textile mills that dominated the city a century ago. Streetcars were a vital link in enabling development of the mills as they were the first large capacity, affordable transporation mode that could bring workers to the mills. Thus including working trolleys was a key factor in telling the mill story.

As the Park was planned, bids were invited to supply replica streetcars and construction equipment maker Gomaco of Iowa won the bid. Accuracy of the resulting three cars was guarangteed by close working with streetcar museums, particularly the Seashore Trolley Museum of Kennebunkport, ME, the oldest and largest such museum and the only one preserving Lowell streetcars. The Park built a line in stages totaling 1.6 miles in a T-shaed structure that is used to transport Park Visitors between exhibit locations.

In 1999 the Park and City of Lowell asked the Museum to help with planning to extend the line through the City's downtown to serve the University of Massachusetts, the MBTA Commuter Rail station, and the growing number of downtown residents. Feasibility studies for this concept followed for the next 16 years. Envisioned was a more permanent presence for the Seashore Trolley Museum and in support of this the Museum's restored New Orleans car was brought to Lowell and operated regularly in conjunction with an indoor exhibit on the history of streetcars.

The final feasibility study was released in November, 2011, and can be reached through the link in the next paragraph. However, in January 2016, the partners working on the project decided to terminate it due to escalating costs and growing complexity. Follow this link to the City Manager's statement cancelling the project:

Final Statement

November, 2011: The long-running study to extend the heritage trolley system in Lowell has reached a major milestone with the release of a study defining routes, phasing, estimated finances, and benefits of the project. The project was sponsored by the Lowell Plan business association and the Lowell National Historical Park. Key participants include the City of Lowell, the University of Massachusetts, real estate developer Trinity Financial, the Seashore Trolley Museum, and the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments. Click on the following link to access the report:

Lowell Trolley Study

The following news notes pertain to heritage trolley developments in Lowell:

July, 2007: Gallagher Connection Charette Report Released. The most difficult infrastructure challenge in building the proposed extensions to the trolley system is connecting the existing system to the Gallagher commuter rail and bus terminal, from which MBTA commuter trains to Boston run. This report outlines several alternatives to the route proposed in the 2003 study (see link under January, 2003 below) and includes diagrams and cost estimate tables. Click on the following link to access the report:

Gallagher Connection Charette Report

January, 2003: Feasibility Study Released. The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of Cambridge, MA released the final report of its study of the feasibility for the expanded Lowell trolley system. Click on the following link to access the report:

Historic Trolley Planning Study

Follow this link for an Overview of Lowell's current heritage trolley line.

The following is a column from the Seashore Trolley Museum Dispatch describing the planned collaboration between Lowell and the museum:

Long Range Possibility: Seashore in Lowell

The below is a project description of the proposed extension to the heritage trolley line and branch museum:

Lowell Heritage Trolley Extension Description

Below is an aerial image showing Lowell's current heritage trolley line. Follow the Historic Planning Study link above to see a map of proposed routes::

This view shows the Lowell National HIstoric Park's existing heritage trolley routes superimposed on an aerial view of the city.


The following are images of heritage trolleys operating in Lowell:

Lowell open 1602 pauses in front of the Boott Mills, home to the National Park's operating looms.

No. 1602 winds between a former mill storage building on the left manufacturing mill on the right, both now being redeveloped.

A group of park visitors leaves open 1601 as they transition from trolley to canal boat for a continuation of their tour.

All Lowell cars are double-ended, and all three end points of the T-shaped line are stub ends, such as this one.

Replica Eastern Massachusetts open car 1601 at the Wannalancit Mills, the current end of line.

Car 1601 waits at the end of line on reserved track at the Wannalancit Mills.

Replica Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway car 4131 makes a rare winter appearance to host dignitaries evaluating the proposed trolley extension pla

Another view of 4131 crossing the street in snow.


In late 2002, the Lowell National Historic Park implemented an innovative approach to adding accessibility to its replica cars without altering there exterior appearance.

The remote control to operate the lift plugs into a socket inside the light fixture. A manual override panel is to the left.

The operator plugs in the remote control after swinging the car's step out of the way.

Using the remote control, the operator deploys the lift.

Will Lavallee, the system designer, pulls out the bridge plates that will go from the car interior to the lift.

Will demonstrates how one of the plates appears when deployed. A second would be placed closer to the camera.

The upper flap on the lift will fold into the car and rest on top of the bridge plates.

The lift fully extended, with the upper flap positioned where it would hit the bridge plates.

A wheelchair tie down is beneath a longitudinal seat inside the car.

Will demonstrates replacing the removable seat section.



For more on the Lowell heritage trolley system click on:



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