The Tram was built on the island in the year 1895. Before that oxen had been charged with the hauling of goods and materials up the steep 150′ hill. The arrival of the steam engine brought the need to haul coal to various parts of the island and to power the tramway engine. Originally 1006′ in length, the tram’s primary responsibility was to haul coal to feed the fog signals steam engine located at the south end of the island, while oxen still hauled kerosene oil to fuel the lamp inside the Fresnel lens as well as house lamps and cooking.
Over the years, as industrious humans developed cutting edge technology, the steam engine was replaced by electricity as a source of power. This changed the characteristics of the equipment used and materials hauled. During 1926-1930 the tram was condemned and replaced with the one that exists today. Powered by a “Buddha” diesel engine that controls the direction of speed of the wire cable attached to the car, the tram has continued to aid in the operation and transportation of materials.
While extremely useful, the tramway is also dangerous. Closed to accommodating people in 1949, a year after a Seguin’s keeper’s wife was seriously injured with a broken hip and bruises when the tram cable broke. Millie Jewett was a toddler who survived the incident after her mother through her to her father when the cable snapped. Today Millie is a current FOSILS member. The only loss from the accident was the family dog. After the accident, the Coast Guard prohibited the use of the tramway for passengers. Today, now 700′ in length it is still used on occasion to transport goods up the steep incline. The heaviest use is in the spring and fall when we open and close the island.
Over the years, the existing tramway has been eroding and is in need of repair. Each summer the Maine Island Trail Association has volunteers come out to the island to help maintain the grounds and areas under the tram. The cost of repair would be around $600 K. The Seguin tramway is the last working tram in the state of Maine. To repair this historic tram, we need help. Please donate to the tramway fund to help us ensure that the tram will be in use for generations to come.