Shelburne Falls & Colrain combine number 10
By Al Barten
Number 10's rebirth on October 9, 1999.
Combines were the workhorses of rural New England trolley lines. Number 10 is the only surviving piece of rolling stock from the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway, which operated over the 12-mile stretch between the title towns in the hills of Western Massachusetts from 1896 till 1926. After the line closed, number 10 spent many years in a field belonging to farmer Marshall Johnson. Marshall's father, Frank, saved the car from the scrapper's demolition by purchasing the car with the intention of making it into a concession stand for use at the swimming spot along the Deerfield River across the road from the Johnson farm. Instead, number 10 was used at times as a chicken coop and a tool shed. In the early 1990s, track consultant Tony Jewell spotted the car and began a campaign to have it restored. This led to the creation of the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, a restoration grant under the federal ISTEA program, and a return to operation in October 1999.
Number 10 was unique, though it had two cousins running on the neighboring Conway Electric Street Railway. All three were built by the Wason Manufacturing Company of Springfield, MA. Wason became a Brill company in 1906. Number 10 always ran with its baggage end facing the Shelburne Falls depot and was used to haul freight in one of the company’s 4-wheel freight cars.
Number 10 was unusually narrow for a standard gauge car, measuring a scant 7’ 6” in width. This necessitated the use of longitudinal bench seats in the passenger compartment.
Number 10 at the Johnson farm, April 1991.
During restoration the museum made considerable efforts to determine the exact color of the car. Even eyewitnesses were not consistent in their accounts. One person recalled the car as being gray. A local painter portrayed the car as an orangy-yellow. We did find some original paint on some wood that had been concealed through the years. This color was orangy-yellow, but more brownish than the painting. Lacking any conclusive color determination, the museum selected a final restoration color color that was consistent with the yellow of two major New England lines, the Berkshire Street Railway and the Connecticut Company.
You can find measured drawings by David L. Waddington in the Downloads section of my web site, here.
Article ©2004 Alfred Barten; photos ©as dated Alfred Barten. All rights reserved.