Irene and the Trolley Museum
|Museum members assess the damage to this Connecticut Company car number 775, which has been operating on the museum tracks since it was built in 1904.|
On Sunday, August 28th, Hurricane Irene raced along the eastern
seaboard and pounded Connecticut with widespread damage. The Trolley Museum
was directly and seriously affected. By far, the most extensive damage
is to the electric ``traction motors'' which propel the cars, and are
mounted to the axles, hanging just a few inches above the rail.
The museum had been flooded in the past, including the infamous winter
Noreaster of December 1992. The flooding created by Irene surpassed
that by at least 6 inches, making this the worst flood since the museum
came to the site in 1947. Temporary remedies instituted after the 1992
flood, such as raising the track elevations in some of the barns, simply
were overpowered by this storm. The museum's Board of Trustees has known
that a long-term solution is needed.
In March of 2011, the museum's Board of Trustees took action, and
began a Capital Campaign called
Elevating The Collection.
It will raise $2 million for the construction of two new buildings on the site
which will store the bulk of the museum's invaluable trolley collection above
the 100-year flood elevation. Had these buildings been in place when
Irene struck, the trolleys would have been completely protected
We appreciate the support of the public by patronizing the museum. Thanks
to that support, and the support of our members who
made a donation to the flood relief fund,
we have been able to repair a number of cars and return them to service
to be enjoyed by our visitors. Additional cars will be repaired during
the 2012 season.
|The same trolley 775 was repaired and running in late November. J. Higham photo|
A Bigger Threat
In September 1938, 9 years before the museum was founded and came to the
Branford trolley site, a Category 3 hurricane struck Connecticut, passing
almost directly over the future museum site. The surge from this storm
brought water levels almost 4 feet higher than Irene. The damage
that another storm of this magnitude could cause to the museum's trolley
collection, stored in its current buildings, is unspeakable. Although
the probability of such an event happening in any given year is low,
it will happen again. If there is one thing that Hurricane Irene reminded
us all, it is not to be complacent.
To Higher Ground
When the Capital Campaign is successfully completed, the museum will have
two new buildings in which to protect its collection. These buildings will
be at sufficient elevation, and engineered to withstand high winds, so that
even if the Hurricane of 1938 were to visit us again, the cars within would
The new buildings have been designed, engineered and cost-estimated.
Approval has been granted by the Town of Branford. We are ready to build
How Can I Help?
Consider making a commitment to the museum's Capital
Campaign Elevating The Collection.
Read more about
the campaign and contact us to get involved:
or (203) 467-6927.
Some Irene Photos
|View looking due south (railroad east). Note the picnic tables and benches which are flooded to the seat level. Dennis Pacelli|
|Cars 6688 and 775 were moved to higher yard tracks in front of these trolley barns but still did not entirely escape the flooding. Dennis Pacelli|
|View looking due north. Flood waters cover both mainline tracks to a depth of 3-6 inches. Dennis Pacelli|
|Museum volunteers used a generator to move this Line Car trolley down the line and repair damage to the trolley wire. Frank Pfuhler|