Seashore Trolley Museum members and volunteers gather on the Nagaski Tram 134 in Kennebunkport. From left are John Mercurio, Heidi Schweizer (restoration shop technician), Karen Dooks (museum librarian), Ed Dooks, Katie Orlando (executive director), Ann Thompson (project manager), and student volunteers Amy Bradford, Carlie Hutchins, Metis Tucker, Blake Pennington, Nia Farago-Dumsch, and Thalia Tucker. COURTESY PHOTO/Seashore Trolley Museum

KENNEBUNKPORT — It’s been said that history relies on new generations to write other chapters and that’s exactly what a group of students did this summer while restoring an antique tram at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport.

From Aug. 4 through Aug. 10, six local students, Thalia Tucker, Metis Tucker, Blake Pennington, Carlie Hutchins, Amy Bradford, and Nia Farago-Dumsch, worked with local artist and project manager Ann Thompson, who also is a member of the nonprofit group Friends of Aomori, a group that supports Maine’s relationship with its sister state in Aomori, Japan. Together they transformed and restored the museum’s antique Nagasaki Tram 134 on both the inside and the outside.

Students were chosen for the project because of their strong drawing skills and ability to handle tools. They used low volatile organic compound paint and brushes under the direction of Randy LeClair, Seashore Trolley Museum foreman, to complete the project.

According to Seashore Trolley Museum Executive Director Katie Orlando, the restoration was made possible thanks to local volunteers, a grant from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Arts Commission, and a paint donation from Fine Paints of Europe.

Local student artists spent one week in August painting the Nagasaki Tram 134 and creating a woodblock print series to display in the tram’s interior. COURTESY PHOTO/Seashore Trolley Museum

The students also created a display using woodblock printmaking to tell the story of one of the tram’s operators, Wada Koichi, who lived in Nagasaki pre- and post-World War II, Orlando said.

Students were mentored for this task by woodblock printmaking expert and Maine native Lyell Castonguay.

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The four-wheel closed car Nagasaki 134 had been given to the Seashore Trolley Museum by the Nagasaki Electric Tramway Co., Ltd., of Japan in 1960 to honor the 100th anniversary of the opening of trade relations between the United States and Japan.

The car was built in 1911, and the tram originally ran routes in Osaka, Japan, before it was transferred to Fukuoka in 1929, and then to Nagasaki in 1953.

Orlando said that the Nagasaki 134 tram was shipped to the United States from Japan aboard the S.S. Pioneer Minx and was protected by a giant wood-slatted crate to limit damage in transit across the Pacific Ocean.

“Museum members are inspired by the excitement for this project and have donated money and time to begin the second phase of the tram’s restoration; much needed repairs to its canvas roof,” Orlando said. “The ultimate goal is to get this tram back in operating condition again.”

She said that the museum estimates about $25,000 will be needed to accomplish that goal.

“In the meantime, the goal is to display the tram for the general public in Highwood Carbarn by the end of September, or upon completion of the second restoration phase,” Orlando said.

The public is invited to be part of this incredible transformation and encouraged to donate to the project.

Orlando said that no amount is too big or too small to donate. Visit www.trolleymuseum.org/support/donate and designate your gift to the Nagasaki Tram, Fund #773.  For more information about the restoration project, visit www.trolleymuseum.org.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 or by email at [email protected]

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