Favorite Places in Maine: Cole Museum an overlooked gem in the Queen City crown

Ethan Merrill, grandson of Paul E. Merrill, stands by the 1920 Model H truck representing Merrill Transport at Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor. Ethan’s mother recently donated the truck to the museum.
Courtesy photo
Ethan Merrill, grandson of Paul E. Merrill, stands by the 1920 Model H truck representing Merrill Transport at Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor. Ethan’s mother recently donated the truck to the museum.
Posted June 29, 2011, at 2:38 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — When you live in a state nicknamed “Vacationland,” the focus — especially this time of year — is on outdoor activities.

But whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, the Cole Land Transportation Museum is a great destination to stimulate the mind, take a trip back through time and get in a leisurely walk at the same time — especially on a rainy or oppressively hot day.

If something has wheels, rails, runners, tracks or even blades, chances are good that it — or a not-too-distant cousin of it — are on display at the 40,400-square-foot facility.

The museum specializes in military, fire department and snow removal vehicles and equipment. In fact, museum founder Galen Cole believes the museum houses the largest display of snow removal equipment in the U.S. It’s easy to lose track of time and let two or three hours go by as you check out the vehicles and equipment arrayed for viewing.

Ten firetrucks make up the firefighting collection, which includes a 1910 hand tub and a 1948 Ahrens Fox.

The railroad section features everything from a BL-2 locomotive to a replica of the Enfield train station.

The museum displays more than 2,000 photos and also features three veteran memorials: The State of Maine WWII Veterans Memorial, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Memorial, and the Maine Vietnam Veterans Memorial, that is graced by a Huey helicopter, a main battle tank and a three-person bronze statue.

Everything from automobiles, bicycles, carriages, farm equipment, motorcycles, sleds, snowmobiles, trains and trucks are displayed in the 1-acre museum space.

The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, May 1-Nov. 11. Admission costs $7 for adults, $5 for adults age 62 and over, $6 for AAA members, free for children and teens under age 19.

The Cole Land Transportation Museum is staffed entirely by knowledgeable volunteers and is always taking applications for new ones. Anyone interested in more information should call the museum at 990-3600.

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