Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Trolley Parks, part one, Southern Maine

  Way back when most small cities and larger areas were connected by inter-urban trolley lines, the trolley companies were happy.  What could make them more happy was more revenue.  And that's where Trolley Parks come in.
  Trolley Parks were "amusement areas" at one end or the other of the trolley line and they were owned by the trolley company(ies).
The Atlantic House, York Beach, Maine c1905 - click to enlarge
Photo: Seashore Trolley Museum via
 The Portsmouth(NH), Kittery and York Street Railway ran a special trolley, The Comet, where for ten cents you could ride to York Beach and visit The Atlantic House.  You could walk on the beach for some fresh air, dance in the ballroom, and of course eat some not-so-healthy food.  Sometimes these types of places, if they were on or over or near the water were called "casinos", but not the gambling kind.   The building is still there.
St. Aspinquid Park, York, Maine c1908 - click to enlarge
Photo: Seashore Trolley Museum via
  A bit north of York Beach visitors were able to go the Saint Aspinquid Park where visitors could "experience" the life of Native Americans.  The center of attraction was a giant statue of Saint Aspinquid, or Passaconaway (his real name).  Legend tells that St. Aspinquid converted to Christianity and became a missionary to other Tribes in North America.  There were also very extra-large Bibles on display.  Unlike The Atlantic House building these buildings are no longer around.
The casino at Cape Porpoise (Kennebunk) - click to enlarge
Photo: Seashore Trolley Museum via
  This was the recreation area for Sanford-Springvale-Kennebunk riders.  The round trip fare from Sanford was fifty cents in 1909.  The railway had a line to Cape Porpoise to haul coal to the schooners which docked there; the casino, was just an idea for profits that worked.
  Visitors could dance and eat dinners and lunches - mostly seafood which was reported to be delightful.
  The casino remained in business until September 6, 1915 when it was consumed by fire at the end of the Labor Day Weekend.

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