Shore Line Trolley Museum gets $1.2 million grant - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Shore Line Trolley Museum gets $1.2 million grant

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Shore Line Trolley Museum gets $1.2 million grant (WFSB) Shore Line Trolley Museum gets $1.2 million grant (WFSB)

Three years after Superstorm Sandy, a shoreline treasure got a big lift on Monday.

After getting a long-awaited federal grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Shore Line Trolley Museum will be able to fix dozens of trolley cars damaged in the flood.

It’s the oldest continuously operated suburban trolley line in the United States and home to roughly 100 trolleys and other artifacts. The hope is this grant will help restore and refurbish them 

"I'm fascinated by the fact that a volunteer organization can run a railroad like this," volunteer John Aurelius, who  first volunteered at the Shore Line Trolley Museum more than 60 years ago, said.  

Following Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, a number of trolley cars were ruined at the trolley museum.

"One of the things that happens is the salt water gets into these old electric motors and when you dry it out, the salt is still there," Aurelius said. "When it's wet, it's a conductor of electricity. So on a humid day, your motor is shorted out."

FEMA previously awarded the museum a grant to repair 53 antique trolleys damaged during the storms. But that funding was delayed when FEMA required the museum to get flood insurance.

The problem is the trolleys aren't covered under the national flood insurance program. The museum reached out to congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

The trio wrote to FEMA, pointing out the museum recently built two new storage facilities on higher ground to move the cars to when there is a risk of flooding. FEMA officials then reissued the $1.2 million reward. 

"This is huge for the trolley museum. This means the cars will be rebuilt and preserved, so that future generations will be able to experience riding on a trolley car,"  museum's general manager told Eyewitness News.

"As most nonprofits will tell you, money is always a critical issue and this is just opening doors for us that are wonderful," Aurelius said. 

For more information on the trolley museum's schedule and the holiday activities, click here.

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