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Cole Land Transportation Museum: A Fascinating Exploration of Really Neat Vintage Vehicles

Diesel Electric BL-2 Locomotive #557: Built in 1949 it was one of only 58 built by Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in Lagrange, Illinois. The #557 was purchased by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad along with 7 others. It was used for line hauling and switching hence its designation BL for Branch Line. This engine also did main line service. Its last run was a RailFan passenger excursion from Northern Maine Junction to Caribou in 1980.
Explore the fascinating Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine, and discover unique vintage vehicles that showcase Maine's rich transportation history.

Gearheads and History Buffs Unite: An Engaging Visit to the Cole Land Transportation Museum

If you’re a vintage vehicle enthusiast or simply a curious traveler looking for a unique experience during your Maine vacation, the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor is a must-visit destination. This fascinating museum offers a glimpse into the rich history of transportation in Maine and beyond, with an impressive collection of antique automobiles, vintage trucks, horse-drawn carriages, and much more.

Using a Tractor Pusher. THis Model 29 Federal Pusher was used to push Coles Express Tractor-Trailer units over the difficult hills in Maine (1941-1945); thus the large tire mounted on front to ease the impact as the tractor and trailer came together.

 

A Bit of Cole Land Transportation Museum History

The Cole Land Transportation Museum was founded by Galen Cole, a passionate collector of transportation artifacts and a dedicated preservationist. With a mission to showcase the evolution of transportation and its impact on Maine’s history, Cole established the museum in 1989. Over the years, the museum has grown and evolved, becoming a beloved institution in the Bangor area.

Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine

 

An Impressive Collection of Unique Vintage Vehicle Exhibits at This Very Cool Museum

The Cole Land Transportation Museum boasts an impressive collection of unique vintage vehicles that showcase Maine’s rich transportation history. From antique automobiles to horse-drawn carriages, the museum’s exhibits offer visitors a fascinating glimpse into the past transportation history of Maine.

Dental Chair Wagon

 

A Small but Diverse and Rare Collection of Antique Automobiles on Display

One of the highlights of the Cole Land Transportation Museum is its collection of antique automobiles. Visitors can marvel at rare and classic models, each with its own unique story and significance in Maine’s transportation history. From early 20th-century Ford Model Ts to elegant 1950s Cadillacs, the museum’s automobile exhibit has a diverse range of classic automobiles.

Antique auto exhibit and collection at Cole Land Transportation Museum

 

An Interactive Railroad Exhibit Showcasing Rail Transport in Maine

The Cole Land Transportation Museum also features a captivating Railroad exhibit that highlights the importance of rail transport in Maine’s history. Visitors can explore a variety of railroad artifacts, including vintage train cars, locomotives, and related memorabilia. The exhibit showcases the evolution of rail transportation in Maine, from the early days of steam-powered engines to the more modern diesel locomotives.

Diesel Electric BL-2 Locomotive #557: Built in 1949 it was one of only 58 built by Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in Lagrange, Illinois. The #557 was purchased by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad along with 7 others. It was used for line hauling and switching hence its designation BL for Branch Line. This engine also did main line service. Its last run was a RailFan passenger excursion from Northern Maine Junction to Caribou in 1980.

One of the highlights of the Railroad exhibit is the opportunity to climb aboard a restored caboose and imagine life as a railroad worker in the early 20th century. The museum also displays a collection of model trains, allowing visitors to see intricate miniature versions of the real-life trains that once crossed through the state.

Maine Central Railroad Caboose - The end of each freight train used to have a caboose. It served several purposes. Primarily, it was an office for the conductor to carry out all orders concerning the movement of his train. The caboose also served as a home away from home for the train crew. Our caboose is set up for three trainmen with three bunks and three lockers for clothing. Its other comforts include a flush toilet, electric lights, oil stove, water cooler and ice box. Tools such as extra lanterns, pails, cleaning supplies, snow shovel, journal bearings, torpedoes, fuses, flagman’s kits, and stretchers were carried in the caboose. The style of our caboose was originally a design from the Reading Railroad and copied by many railroads in the northeastern United States; making it one of the most famous. This caboose was built by the Western Maryland Railroad in 1940 and purchased by the Maine Central Railroad in 1962.

Through informative displays and interactive elements, the Railroad exhibit at the Cole Land Transportation Museum offers a fascinating look at how trains played a crucial role in shaping Maine’s economy, culture, and way of life. It’s a must-see for any railroad enthusiast or anyone interested in learning more about this important aspect of Maine’s transportation history.

On a side note, if you are interested in riding a vintage train, check out the Boothbay Railway Village Museum in Boothbay, Maine which provides steam train rides through their unique Maine village museum campus.

Freight Car & Box Car Theater at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine

 

Really Neat Vintage Trucks, Buses and Other Commercial Vehicles to Explore

In addition to passenger vehicles, the museum also boasts an impressive collection of early commercial vehicles, including vintage trucks and buses. These vehicles played a crucial role in Maine’s transportation history, facilitating the movement of goods and people across the state. Visitors can appreciate the rugged beauty and functionality of these classic workhorses.

Vintage tucks and buses at the Cole Land Transportation Museum

 

Learn about Classic Horse-Drawn Carriages and Sleighs Before the Era of Motorized Vehicles

Before the introduction of motorized vehicles, horse-drawn carriages and sleighs were the primary means of transportation in Maine. The Cole Land Transportation Museum showcases a variety of these elegant and beautifully crafted vehicles, offering a glimpse into a bygone era. From ornate city carriages to practical farm wagons, the museum’s collection is a testament to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the past.

Horse-drawn carriage

 

Discover a Cool Collection of Vintage Motorcycles and Bicycles

Two-wheeled transportation also has a place in Maine’s history, and the Cole Land Transportation Museum celebrates this with its collection of vintage motorcycles and bicycles. Visitors can admire unique models and learn about their stories and the role they played in shaping Maine’s transportation landscape.

Vintage Motorcycles and Bicycles Display Exhibit

 

Massive Snowplows and Other Specialized Utility Vehicles on Display

Maine is known for its harsh winters, and the Cole Land Transportation Museum pays tribute to the vehicles that have kept the state moving through the snow and ice. From early horse-drawn snowplows to modern marvels of engineering, the museum’s collection showcases the evolution and technological advancements of these specialized vehicles.

Snow plow exhibit

 

An Amazing Collection of Military Vehicles and Equipment

The museum also features an extensive collection of military transportation from various eras, including jeeps, trucks, and even tanks. These vehicles are a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces and serve as a reminder of the important role transportation has played in military history.

Military exhibit

 

Learn About Maine’s Transportation History Through Interactive Exhibits & Educational Programs

In addition to its static displays, the Cole Land Transportation Museum offers a range of interactive exhibits and educational programs. Visitors can enjoy hands-on displays and activities, guided tours led by knowledgeable staff, and engaging storytelling sessions. The museum also provides educational programs for children and students, making it a great destination for families and school groups.

Women in Service display

 

Cole Land Transportation Museum Visitor Information

The Cole Land Transportation Museum is open seasonally from May to November. Admission is affordable, with discounted rates for seniors, children, and families. The museum is easily accessible by car, with ample parking available on-site. After exploring the exhibits, I highly recommend browsing the gift shop for unique souvenirs for family and friends, or simply enjoying a meal at one of the nearby restaurants in Bangor, Maine.

Hand Pump Fire Engine cart

 

A Few Interesting Facts about the Cole Land Transportation Museum

  • The museum’s collection includes over 200 vehicles, spanning more than a century of transportation history.
  • Galen Cole, the museum’s founder, was a World War II veteran and a successful businessman in the transportation industry.
  • The museum is located on a 35-acre campus, which includes nature trails and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy.
  • The Cole Land Transportation Museum hosts an annual “Plow Day” event, showcasing the power and beauty of antique snowplows.
  • The museum’s military vehicle collection includes a rare World War II-era Duck, an amphibious vehicle used for land and water transportation.
  • In addition to its vehicle exhibits, the museum also features a collection of antique toys, model trains, and other transportation-related memorabilia.

Model T snowmobile

 

Support and Explore the Cole Land Transportation Museum: A Vital Piece of Maine’s Heritage

I have visited a number of classic vehicle museums around New England, and I can vouch that the Cole Land Transportation Museum offers a truly unique and fascinating experience for anyone interested in the history of transportation in Maine. With its impressive collection of vintage vehicles, interactive exhibits, and educational programs, the museum is a valuable addition (in my humble opinion) to any Maine vacation itinerary. Whether you’re a die-hard gearhead or simply looking for a fun and informative day trip, the Cole Land Transportation Museum is sure to leave a lasting impression. So why not plan a visit and discover the wonders of this amazing museum in the heart of Bangor, Maine?

Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Cole Land Transportation Museum

The following are answers to some common questions about the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine.

What are the museum’s operating hours?

The Cole Land Transportation Museum is open seasonally from May 1 to mid-November. The hours are typically 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week, but it’s always best to check their website or call ahead to confirm the current hours of operation.

Is the museum accessible for visitors with disabilities?

Yes, the Cole Land Transportation Museum is committed to providing an accessible experience for all visitors. The museum features wheelchair-accessible entrances, restrooms, and exhibits. However, due to the nature of some vintage vehicles, not all exhibits may be fully accessible.

Are guided tours available?

Yes, guided tours led by knowledgeable staff members are available. These tours provide a more in-depth look at the museum’s exhibits and offer fascinating insights into the history of transportation in Maine. Check with the museum for tour schedules and availability.

Is photography permitted inside the museum?

Yes, photography for personal, non-commercial use is generally permitted inside the museum. However, visitors should be respectful of others and avoid using flash photography, as it may damage some of the delicate artifacts on display.

Does the museum have a gift shop?

Yes, the Cole Land Transportation Museum features a gift shop where visitors can purchase unique souvenirs, books, and transportation-related items. The gift shop is a great place to find a memorable keepsake from your visit or a special gift for a transportation enthusiast.

Are there any special events held at the museum throughout the year?

Yes, the Cole Land Transportation Museum hosts various special events throughout the year, such as Plow Day, which showcases antique snowplows, and Model T Day, which celebrates the iconic Ford Model T. Check the museum’s website or social media pages for information on upcoming events.

 

Contact Information
Cole Land Transportation Museum
405 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401
207-990-3600
https://www.colemuseum.org/

 

Picture of Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark has an extensive background in the Maine Hospitality Industry, having owned the Ledges By The Bay, a boutique oceanfront hotel property, in Rockport Maine, for 40 years. He sold the property in 2016 but remains well-versed in the Maine Tourism industry and has written a number of Maine travel-related articles for various blogs and publications over the years.

Mark founded the TakeMe2 Travel Guides platform, an online travel guide initiative, designed to promote tourism in Maine, New England and in other key states – by providing in depth, unbiased information to potential tourists and travel consumers. TakeMe2 currently features the TM2Maine.com website.

Mark is also currently a stakeholder in VONT, a digital marketing agency in Westbrook, Maine, where he leads VONT's search engine optimization (SEO) practice.

Mark is versed in a number of digital information technologies including web design and development, digital video, electronic design and digital imaging technologies as well as internet marketing tactics such as blogs, web properties, and other smart media such as AI chatbots for content, image and video enhancement. One of his primary tasks at VONT is to find the successful application of these new information platforms in marketing and then teach VONT's marketers how to use them to create marketing campaigns more efficiently, creatively and cost effectively.

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