Notice the three left tabs: Visit, Donate, Volunteer. The web site has been redesigned to highlight the fact that these three concepts are the pillars that together support a vibrant and successful museum.
Visit—Visitation is the whole reason for our existence as a New York State chartered non-profit educational organization. We already attract people from far and wide to take the ride, admire the international trolley collection and see related exhibits in the Visitors Center. However it is a continuous process to improve the visitor experience to make it more relatable, more educational and more fun for all ages!
Donate—Donations, or fund raising in general, takes many forms including memberships, general donations, business support, bequests, endowments and fund raising events. The museum continually seeks new funding sources in order to improve its educational value. Reliable funding is needed for restoration, maintenance, exhibit development, training, electrification or any expansion or improvements to the museum.
Volunteer—Volunteers make the museum go 'round, keep the doors open and the operation running. The museum was founded in 1955 by volunteers, moved from Brooklyn to Kingston in 1983 by volunteers, and since operated for over 30 Summers by volunteers. Sure, we've had the occasional part-time employee as funding permitted and wish to hire again. But one thing that will never change is the need for a steady influx of new volunteers with a variety of skills, backgrounds and interests to keep the organization vital and growing.
The Trolley Museum of New York (TMNY) has been in downtown Kingston on the Rondout Waterfront since 1983.
TMNY became an established attraction on East Strand just as the area started its rise as a popular tourist destination and evening dining hot spot.
Now the Trolley Museum is a top
thing to do for all visitors to the vital Kingston Waterfront!
TMNY is a New York State chartered non-profit educational organization that was founded in Brooklyn in 1955. The museum offers a ride for the public and through exhibits and educational programs shares the rich history of rail transportation and the role it played in the Hudson Valley region and elsewhere.
In addition to static displays of trolley and subway cars from the United States and Europe, an excursion ride runs 1½ miles from the foot of Broadway in Downtown Kingston to picnic grounds on the shore of the Hudson River at Kingston Point. Picnic tables are available at each of the the three main stops on the trolley line: T. R. Gallo Memorial Park (Downtown at Rondout Creek), Kingston Point Park and the museum itself.
The museum is located on the original site of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad yards at Milepost 1. The museum building is on the foundation of the engine house that existed before 1900. The upper level includes a Visitors Center featuring seasonal and permanent displays, a video viewing area and large windows overlooking the restoration shop. Visitors can see up to eight trolley cars being housed and restored below.
The Trolley Museum of New York is a member of the Association of Tourist Railways and Railway Museums and American Association of Museums.
The Trolley Museum of New York was started in Brooklyn, NY, in 1955 by Everett A. White when the last trolley lines in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Brooklyn were being abandoned. By 1957, the museum had acquired four trolleys. These included Atlantic City car #250, built by the J. G. Brill Co. in 1917; Brooklyn double ended Peter Witt trolley car #8361, built in 1925; Brooklyn PCC trolley #1000 delivered in 1936, the only all aluminum car built by Clark Equipment Co.; and the last trolley to travel across the Queensborough Bridge, car #601, a former New Bedford Master Unit car built by Osgood-Bradley in 1932.
From 1957 to the early 1960's, the museum had a difficult time finding a permanent home for the four cars in its collection causing the cars to be stored in various locations throughout NYC. The first two trolleys were stored at the B&O yards in Staten Island, car #1000 at the NYC Transit Authority's Coney Island shops and car #601 at the Queensborough Bridge lines former Manhattan underground terminal at 59th Street and 2nd Ave.
During the 1960's all of the museum's four cars were stored together at the B&O yards in Staten Island. But as luck would have it, the track they were stored on was to be removed to make way for a parking lot. It was at this time many of the original volunteers started to lose interest. Many of them were attracted to other museums that had similar equipment that was operated rather than just maintained. In 1961, our then Chairman of the Board, Mr. Francis Voyticky, attempted to organize an operating museum in Brooklyn using Swedish trolley #79, but the attempt failed and the trolley was sold to the Edaville Railroad in South Carver, Massachusetts.
In 1964, the Trolley Museum acquired interurban car #411, which was delivered to the South Brooklyn Railway yards at Avenue Z and Shell Road in Brooklyn. The museum was able to operate the car for several years, but was unable to obtain a commitment for permanent use of the site. As a result, the interurban was sold to the trolley museum in East Troy, Wisconsin.
In 1968, the museum's original four cars were moved from St. George to the Trolley Valhalla Museum in Tansboro, New Jersey. Overhead wire was already installed here and trolleys were in operation. Preparations were being made to place the Trolley Museum of New York's trolley in operation when the Valhalla group failed to exercise a lease on the property with the option to buy, resulting in their eviction from the property. We were permitted to stay until we found a new location.
The following year, 1969, a new location in Morristown, New Jersey was located at the Morristown and Erie Railroad. We were given a thirty year lease with operating rights. Unfortunately, the railroad ended up in Federal bankruptcy court and we ended up back where we started from in Brooklyn, at Avenue Z and Shell Road. During the stay in Morristown, the original President of the museum, Everett A. White, was replaced by George Hassoldt.
Starting in 1972, John DeRoos, head of the Transit Authority of New York, encouraged the museum to purchase three Boston PCC trolley cars, #3204, #3214 and #3216. Plans were made to operate the cars as a tourist attraction on McDonald Avenue in Brooklyn while cars #1000 and #8361 were being restored in the Coney Island shops, when the Transit Authority came under the control of a new manager. The new manager did not support the idea of an operating museum on transit property and we were ordered to leave.
It is now July 1982, George Hassoldt resigned as president and Mr. Francis Voyticky was elected to succeed him. The treasury was nearly bare and the prospect of a successful relocation seemed quite dim. It was also during this time that three Philadelphia trolleys donated by Joseph Kimbrig, the museum's 1st Vice President, were under a 90 day deadline to be moved from the South East Philadelphia Transit Authority (SEPTA) yards and had no place else to go.
Near the end of the 90 days, a new location as found at the Brooklyn Union Gas Company in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Trucker Joe Supor was dispatched to Philadelphia and arrived there on the 91st day only to find that the cars had already been cut up for scrap by the SEPTA officials. It was this misfortune that actually did our museum a great deal of good.
The story of the trolley cars was picked up by the Philadelphia newspapers and made the wire services. It was read in Kingston by Ms. Hidegarde Frey, who brought it to the attention of Mr. Stephen Finkle, her boss at the Ulster County Development Corporation. Mr. Finkle in turn brought the story to the attention of the Mayor of the City of Kingston, Mr. Donald Quick, and negotiations were started with the museum for leasing part of the recently abandoned track in Kingston.
In April of 1983, the Trolley Museum reached an agreement with the City of Kingston Mayor, the Kingston Board of Aldermen and the Ulster County Legislature to lease the abandoned former Penn Central (Ulster & Delaware) rail branch to Kingston Point. Operation for the public began July of 1983 using car #120, a Brill Model 55 gasoline car.
By 1984, a total of eight subway and trolley cars were moved to the Kingston site. A trolley barn (gray metal building) was constructed to house two European trolleys that were donated to us by Joe Supor. In addition, four other trolleys were moved to various locations to be reconstructed. In 1985, two additional pieces of equipment were moved to Kingston, one being a Staten Island passenger car that was damaged by fire. The volunteers totally reconstructed the car and it was used as our gift shop and loading platform until it was destroyed by fire in October, 1991. Also in 1985, our volunteers reconstructed the track link between our main line and the branch to the Maritime Museum. In 1988, at a cost of only $60,000 the current main museum building was constructed.
As we entered into the 2010s, the museum was beginning to transform. The museum building, which was built some twenty years before, received a brand new facade. A new parking lot was constructed. And new track was put down along much of our mainline. Unfortunately, we still had a long way to go.
Our museum throughout the 1990s struggled to bring in visitors and find its direction. Events like a 1992 flood damaged some of our track along the mainline. Our "Doodlebug" car, no. 120, which since our establishment in Kingston in 1983 had been our sole operating car, was sidelined after a major engine failure. And by the late 2000s, half of our collection had become severley deteriorated, making our grounds an eyesore. The City of Kingston was undergoing a period of revitalization and had asked us to dispose of these derelict trolleys and transit cars. Poor decision making and mismanagement hampered development and growth of the museum. And then the unpredictable: in late October of 2012, Superstorm Sandy swept along the eastern coast of the country. It made its way up New York State and hit Downtown Kingston hard. The nearby Hudson River flooded the surrounding waterfront and much of our museum grounds, causing $300,000 in damages. The museum did its best to stay open over the next year, with the staff working by any and all means necessary to keep operations afloat.
However, in the summer of 2014, something occured that would help cement the groundwork towards the rebirth of our museum. In August of that year, Mr. Omar Pagan attended a fantrip that ran on the New York City subway to the Rockaways in Queens, New York. As this was his first fantrip, he was very impressed with the equipment that ran and with the overall experience. So much so, that he made a $100.00 donation to the New York Transit Museum. That same day, a friend of Mr. Pagan made him aware of one of the cars in our collection, a former New York City Transit Authority R16 subway car, no. 6398. Mr. Pagan had ridden on a sister car to our 6398 on the fantrip that day and decided to look up information on our car. No. 6398 had undergone flood damage to its undercarriage componentry as a result of Superstorm Sandy, undoing some of the decades of restoration work. Already wanting to find a way to take part in some sort of restoration effort, Mr. Pagan gathered some money and made a $100.00 donation to us.
Shortly after, Mr. James McGinty, who helped in the preservation and restoration of no. 6398 some 27 years before, reached out to Mr. Pagan. After talking and planning for almost two months, they, along with a group of people, travelled from New York City to Kingston on Saturday, September 27th, 2014 to help restore 6398. They would meet with the museum staff - Ms. Nancy Riseley, then our museum President, Mr. Evan Jennings, then our Vice President, and Mr. Erik Garces and Mr. Harold Greenblatt, two gentlemen who also had a hand in preserving and restoring 6398. Mr. McGinty, Mr. Garces, and Mr. Greenblatt were once part of the Car Preservation and Restoration Group, who saved 6398 for preservation in 1987.
This newly formed group would meet up once a month to work on the car. Soon, their attention would quickly shift from our R16 subway car to other cars in the collection. And then, towards the museum grounds. The group brainstormed ideas, undid some wrongs, looked into unique ways to bring in revenue, and try things not dared by previous staff, nor by other similar museums in the Northeast. They would soon take advantage of the surrounding waterfront district and fully intergrate the museum into the community, something the museum struggled with for years. By the end of 2015, the museum was starting to grow, undergoing a rebirth of sorts as the community and travelers began to take notice. In December of that year, the museum acquired very significant pieces of history - one of the commuter cars that survived the collapse of the World Trade Center, a Port Authority Trans Hudson PA-1 car, no. 143, along with a number of September 11th artifacts.
The museum continued to florish over the next two years, undergoing many firsts: night runs along our mainline. Taking part in community events along the waterfront. Our very first Members Day. Movement of trolleys, transit and railroad equipment that had not moved in years. A Whitcomb diesel locomotive came to life after years of inactivity. The installation of signals along our track. The acquisition of a new generator. The long awaited restoration of some of our cars, including the revival and return to service of our car no. 120. Our volunteers and staff then took a vow: "Leave Our Museum Better Than We Found It".
Today, the museum runs under a highly effective Board of Trustees and a very dedicated group of volunteers. Mr. Erik Garces currently serves as our museum President, while Mr. Allen Hughes and Mr. William (Bill) Wexler serve as our Vice Presidents. Our Board and Officers oversee operations such as site improvement, social media outreach, and event organization. Our volunteers take part in the restoration of our trolleys and transit cars in our collection. Mr. Wexler also serves as our Master Mechanic and works closely with Mr. Harold Greenblatt, our Chief Mechanical Officer.
We continue to strive to maintain our mission, finding ways to improve our museum inside and out. We will continue to grow and leave this museum better than we found it.