Biddeford trolley
J. G. Brill Co.
12 Bench open car
Secondary Use
City and Suburban Streetcars
Retired from Service
Acquired by the Museum
No. 31 is in good condition but requires some paint and mechanical work.

Biddeford & Saco Railroad Co. 31

From Biddeford, Maine


Biddeford & Saco No. 31 is the museum’s oldest open car and the museum’s first car. It is the oldest surviving Brill design electric open car. The car rides on Brill’s patented 22E “maximum traction” trucks. This design featured two large wheels mounted on the axle driven by the motor and two small “pony” wheels on the other axle. The truck was designed to throw more weight on the motored axle so that maximum traction might be obtained without spinning the wheels. Gone from most of the big cities by the 1920s, open cars survived in areas where their capacity made their short operating season financially viable. One such area was the cities of Biddeford and Saco in Maine, where the local trolley line served the resort town of Old Orchard Beach. Ridership to Old Orchard was insufficient to fill a twice hourly Birney Car for nine months out of the year, but ballooned to enormous traffic during the summer. The summer loads often required double-headed 12 bench opens running on a 15 minute headway. In the spring of 1939, a group of college age men from the Boston area, chartered cars and spent the day riding back and forth between Biddeford and Old Orchard. Buses were already on order to replace the streetcars, and while riding an open car, one was heard saying “Someone ought to save one of these cars.” Someone else chimed in, “Why can’t it be us?” Lively discussion ensued, and by the time the trip was over, a decision had been made to try and purchase the car they were riding in, No. 31. The Biddeford & Saco agreed to sell the car for $150, provided that the purchasers removed the car from the cities within a fixed time period after trolley service ended. Facing several obstacles, including raising the $150, this group of men managed to raise the price of the car plus the cost of moving it, leased a small plot of land off Log Cabin Road on the Arundel-Kennebunkport border, and succeeded in moving the car over the road about eight miles using makeshift equipment. The purchase was made on July 5, 1939, on the same day that buses replaced the cars. Thus was born the Seashore Trolley Museum, and, in general, street railway preservation. In 1979, Senator Edmund Muskie rode No. 39 at the celebration of the museum’s 40th anniversary. After extensive restoration was completed in 1999, the museum trucked No. 31 to Biddeford for exhibition.

Technical Information

  • Seats: 60
  • Control: K-36J
  • Compressor: CP-25


  • Number: 2
  • Manufacturer: Brill
  • Model: 22E


  • Number: 2
  • Manufacturer: General Electric
  • Model: 200

Weight and Dimensions

  • Length: 36’ 6.00"
  • Width: 8’ 2.00"
  • Height: 11’ 6.00"

Additional Images

Biddeford trolley interior
Matthew D. Cosgro in 2002
Biddeford trolley controls
Kenyon F. Karl on 10/06/18
Biddeford trolley controls
Kenyon F. Karl on 10/06/18
Biddeford trolley controls
Kenyon F. Karl on 10/06/18
Biddeford trolley seats
Kenyon F. Karl on 10/06/18
Biddeford trolley with passengers
Biddeford trolley historic photo
Stephen M. Scalzo collection in
Biddeford trolley historic photo
Frederick Maloney Collection
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