Boothbay Railway Village: It’s the 60th anniversary!

What’s new for the big year
Mon, 07/08/2024 - 8:45am

Story Location:
586 Wiscasset Road
Boothbay, ME 04537
United States

    Boothbay Railway Village was founded by George McEvoy in 1964. It opened for the first time in 1965 on Memorial Day weekend. Many of the buildings were saved from demolition by him, including Freeport Station. which he transported in nine pieces over three days in Feb. 1964, and where visitors buy their tickets; the 1847 Boothbay Town Hall in 1990; and Spruce Point Chapel in 1995.

    This year, in celebration of its founding, the 30-acre Boothbay Railway Village Museum has many new features in store for visitors!

    Shannon’s Unshelled will be there all summer long serving clam chowder, chicken tenders, wings, shrimp, haddock, lobster rolls, fresh crab and more. The menu is available to both BRVM visitors and those who are not.

    Docent-led 90-minute tours will be limited to groups of up to 15. For $3 per person, included with admission on Tuesdays, you can ride the steam train and learn about the exhibits housed by historic buildings.

    “We are excited to offer tours,” said Stein Eriksen, head of buildings and grounds. “They will provide an in-depth view of the museum and allow the participants to experience life in Maine in the late 1800s to the mid 1900s through the Museum’s exhibits. We’ll have weekly guided tours as well as paid tours and private tours beginning July 9.”

    A Music, Masts & Lobster Traps event is Sunday, Aug. 25 from 2 to 6:30 p.m. with music headliners The Mallett Brothers Band; Muddy Ruckus (blues, folk and punk) and Paddy Mills (the 2013 Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Contest winner). Booth exhibits, food trucks, beer by Mast Landing Brewery, and more.

    The 60th anniversary event, to be held on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. is a major fundraiser for BRVM  The School Street Band will play, there will be a one-of-a-kind silent auction; and five stations of signature bites and handcrafted cocktails catered by Boothbay Harbor Restaurant Group/Ralph Smith. 

    The proceeds from that event will benefit the building of a 100’ x 80’ state-of-the-art archival and storage building that, outwardly, will resemble an early Ford dealership. Eriksen said to think of Wiscasset’s former Haggett’s Garage, which was an early Ford dealership. Inside BRVM’s building will be a showroom, two restrooms, an education center, and auto workshop on the first floor; and state-of-the-art archives on the second floor. Plan to visit the auto museum this summer and read about the plans.

    “We are working out if we can afford to build the showroom/archival building. Then, with board approval, we can bring the plans to the planning board,” said Eriksen.

    Artifacts have long been stored in the attics of building/exhibits throughout BRVM. This new building will allow staff to find and organize what they have, fix what needs fixing, and decide which “new” artifacts will finally be placed on exhibit, replacing those that have always been.

    Eriksen said, “We knew this building was what we really needed and wanted. Not a week goes by that I don’t find something new. Recently, it was a Mother Goose diorama (of “Hey Diddle, Diddle”) in the basement of the Town Hall, that dates back circa 1915-1920s. It’s probably been there 40 years. I’ve been refurbishing it – working on the mechanics, the old motor drive. We’ll display it in the diorama building next to the post office.”

    The current Auto Museum has 60 vehicles spanning 1902-1968. Most vehicles in the collection, noted Stein, are from 1902 to 1940. Recently he was approached by someone who wanted to have their antique car displayed there, but retain ownership.

    “We don’t have to own the cars,” said Eriksen. “If someone wants to display an antique car here, they can. Just give me a call at 207-633-4727. And, we’re also interested in adding muscle cars from the 1950s-1970s to the collection.”

    Cars & Coffee at BRVM will be held between 7:30 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 28 and Sunday, Aug. 25. You don’t have to arrive in a classic car, but if you have one, you can. 

    Mike Belanger volunteers at the car museum where he worked on a donated four-cylinder 1923 Buick Roadster, that prior to its arrival at BRVM, had been sitting in a garage since 1956. Belanger spent weeks going through it and finally got it running in late 2023 after 68 years! When Belanger the son of the former owner it was running again, he asked Belanger if he and his father could come see it while they were in Boothbay for Thanksgiving. And they did. When Belanger started up the Buick, the former owner looked upward and called out to his late wife Lois, asking she heard that, and telling her it was finally running!

    That car is one of only eight left in existence, Eriksen has learned. He had been trying to get into the trunk and found an unfamiliar hole. He went on to an antique archival site for Buicks. Turned out, that “opening” required a special key. Someone sent Stein a photo of it and asked why he needed it.

    “The guy said, ‘I just did a tour of all the Maine auto museums ... I had no idea you had one,’” Eriksen said. “And then he told me it was one of eight.”

    New in the auto museum is the license plate collection found in one of the buildings. The first plate in Maine is dated 1905. There were a myriad of categories, include commercial, logging, and dealer plates. 

    On another topic, ice fishing, Eriksen got a call from Mark Gimbel last year. The Gimbels’ Windjammer Emporium was closing and Mark wanted to know if BRVM would be interested in the ice harvesting tools he had. Eriksen accepted the donation and work is underway to turn the Hooper building into one dedicated to ice harvesting in the region.

    Grover’s Hardware building is getting a makeover. Its refurbished interior includes white walls to help make some of the exhibits really pop. Many items previously displayed near the ceiling went unnoticed because it all just blended in. And Eriksen said there is plenty more Grover’s memorabilia in storage.

    BRVM is at 586 Wiscasset Road/Route 27 in Boothbay. Tickets for all events are on sale now. Visit https://railwayvillage.org