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Cole Transportation Inc
Member of the Board of Trustees
Bangor High School
Home | Stories & Content | Prime Mover | Galen Cole and the Cole Land Transportation Museum
Galen Cole and the Cole Land Transportation Museum A 1941 photo shows best friends, Charlie Flanagan and Galen Cole, among Bangor High School cheerleaders on a train bound for a basketball game in Lewiston. Cole was but 19 when he was wounded as a German shell killed five fellow soldiers when it hit the half-track they were riding in during the Battle of the Rhineland in April 1945. Growing up on the city's East Side, Cole had no idea that one day he would build a museum that would be a force for educating children, preserving history and honoring veterans from World War II to the present. Well, maybe a little idea. "I can see the day, I can see the time," Cole recalled recently. Now 86, he was only 8 or 9 when he and a friend were chatting in the hayloft of the barn that long ago was torn down at 4 North Park Street. As the son of a trucking carrier, "I was so interested in trucks and automobiles," Cole said. "Every year [the dealers] changed models," he said, still with a bit of awe in his voice, that "sellers and buyers wouldn't want to hang on to vehicles that served them so well. "He was so fortunate to meet her," Galen said. The Cole family grew to seven children, Galen the fifth. His father maintained a lifelong fondness for horses, "but I took a great liking to trucking, and truck drivers," Galen said. He'll never forget accompanying Coles' employees to deliver Sears & Roebuck catalogs to Deer Isle in the 1930s. People came out to see the big truck bringing the catalogs, he recalled. "You'd have thought we were the Queen Mary!" In 1936, Coles moved into the former Noyes & Nutter stove foundry on Dutton Street near the current home of Bangor Auditorium. "My dad was a dreamer," Cole said, "hatching new ideas such as raising 10,000 hens upstairs at the new location. Most of Galen Cole's friends were older than he was and they entered the military in World War II in great numbers. He was in basic training when he heard that his best friend, Charlie Flanagan, had been killed. By early 1945, Cole and many other soldiers in Europe were infantry replacements in units such as the Fifth Armored Division. Galen took a seat with his squad in the back of a half-track one April day, only to have a returning comrade, Bill Golladay, ask if Cole would move so he could have his usual seat. Cole agreed, and the decision saved his life. A German shell hit the vehicle, killing all five men on Golladay's side, but wounding the 19-year-old Cole and the men sitting with him. "I realized what had happened," Cole said. Purpose is something Galen Cole has never lacked. Though several of his siblings were older, they all had their talents and places in the company, it was Galen who became president of Coles Express at age 29. That year he was also elected to the Bangor City Council. Coles Express flourished, with Galen showing the same ingenuity as Allie. Galen put out the word that the museum would welcome artifacts to tell the story of the state's land transportation pioneers. COLE LAND TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM "Seventy-seven vehicles were donated before we even broke ground," Cole said. "Maine Central Railroad was giving away little railroad stations," Cole explained.
WWII veteran Galen Cole, a veterans advocate and founder of the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, also was interviewed by Jeffrey Hope, a journalism instructor who runs the New England School of Communications' journalism program.
Cole lost five close friends from his U.S. Army 5th Armored Division unit when a German tank attacked his transport vehicle on April 2, 1945. Cole started handing out walking sticks to Maine veterans more than a decade ago and started the The Veteran Interview Program to teach local youngsters about history.
Galen Cole, Founder of the Cole Land Transportation Museum may be available to speak with your group in the lobby upon arrival.
This video is narrated by Galen Cole, Founder of the Cole Land Transportation Museum...
Read More Founder Talk Galen Cole, Founder of the Cole Land Transportation Museum may be available to speak with your group in the lobby upon arrival. Read More
Galen Cole, Founder & President, Cole Family Foundation Reaching and maintaining these goals will have made worthwhile this museum and its collection given by me, the Cole Family, and several hundred individuals, companies, municipalities, and the State of Maine.
Galen L. Cole, Founder Cole Family Foundation