Many decades ago, Trolleys were one of the main modes of transportation in the Hudson Valley area. Quaint vehicles bustled along the city streets of Poughkeepsie and Kingston, taking people uptown and downtown from one destination to another. If you want to see and ride a real trolley, one that runs on rails embedded in the street, you can visit the Trolley Museum of New York, located at 89 East Strand in Kingston.
The Trolley Museum of New York currently owns approximately 30 trolley cars dating as far back as 1907. Its history began in 1955 in Brooklyn when the lines there and in Atlantic City were being abandoned. Founded by Everett A. White, the museum slowly began acquiring trolleys that were, at that time, between twenty and forty years old. The cars were stored in various locations throughout New York City as the museum searched for a permanent home.
After bouncing from location to location in New Jersey and Brooklyn, adding cars along the way, the museum finally came to have its permanent home in Kingston in 1983. The goals of the museum are to offer a ride to the public and – through exhibits and educational programs – to share the rich history of rail transportation and the role it played in the Hudson Valley region.
The museum is located on the original site of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad yards at Milepost 1. The building which houses the gift shop and visitor’s center was built on the foundation of the U&D engine house which existed at the turn of the century. The visitor’s center features seasonal and permanent displays as well as large windows that overlook the restoration shop, or trolley barn. The barn currently houses eight trolleys, three of which visitors can go inside and have a look around.
The not-for-profit museum is run by volunteers and depends on private donations and revenue from trolley rides and the Museum Store to cover the costs of the equipment and materials.
The museum has a number of “mystery photos” on the archive section of their website regarding trolleys that they need more information about. If you were a trolley rider in your youth, you might want to take a look at these photos and see if anything looks familiar. You just might solve a mystery!
Columbus Day marks the end of the regular operating season for the museum, but two special annual events follow that date. On the last Saturday in October, the museum will operate the “Fright Train.” If you wear something “frightful” your admission is free from noon to 4 p.m. Looking ahead to the holidays, a “Santa Run” is always held the first weekend in December from noon to 4 p.m. Children and adults can ride the trolley with Santa.
Museum hours are Noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays from Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day. Admission is $4 per person for adults and $3 per person for children ages 2 to 12 and seniors age 62 and older. Children under age 2 are free. Admission includes a trolley ride, and a visit to the gallery and restoration shop. For more information about visiting or making a donation, visit their website at www.tmny.org.