Tracking the Past: Unearthing America's Hidden Trolley Legacy through Digitized Images and Text

Material Description

O.R. Cummings Maine Electric Railways Collection This photograph collection supported the research of O.R. Cummings, an historian of street railways who authored more than 60 books. Cummings gifted the collection to NEERHS in 2009. The photographs, dating from 1895 to 1949, capture images from every street railway that ever operated in the state of Maine. The collection chronicles a pivotal era in Maine's history, documenting the development of the street railways that spurred the growth of Maine cities and suburbs in the early 20th century. The photographs are a sociological treasure trove of images, not just of trolley cars, but of street scenes in cities and towns across Maine, including buildings, parks, shops, factories, recreational destinations, automobiles, people, and the changing fashions in dress. The Wason Collection This collection contains 3000 original negatives of railway cars built by the Wason Manufacturing Company in Springfield, Massachusetts between 1906 and 1938. These photos were taken by the company to document car orders from railways around the world, showing various views of each car type built for each order and have descriptive information (date, car type, company) for each. These items are unique originals, entrusted to a local historian by the company when the plant closed, and then donated to NEERHS. The New England Tourism Collection This collection, donated to NEERHS by O.R. Cummings, consists of 100 tourism booklets advertising trolley, steamboat, and train excursions in New England. Many of the booklets are regional, but some are souvenir booklets for individual trolley resorts. All are illustrated with black-and-white photographs and maps, and include local information, business directories, and advertisements. These documents contain a wealth of primary source material in the subject areas of local history, transportation, geography, and leisure activities.

Year Added:



New England Electric Railway Historical Society


Ms. Amber Tatnall
York County Community College

Collaborating Institution(s)

New England Electric Railway Historical Society; York County Community College; University of New England

Date Range

1863 - 1946

Geographic Scope

The geographic scope of these collections is Maine, New England, and (for the Wason Collection), U.S. cities and towns, South America, Central America, and Cuba.


  • 7100 Mixed Archival Collections