Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bangor and Aroostook Railroad

An iconic boxcar of the BAR - click
  From 1881 to 2003 the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad was just about King of the State of Maine, at least northern Maine.
  BAR was formed by the purchase and merger of the Bangor and Katahdin Iron Works Railroad and the Bangor and Piscataquis Railroad, the line then extended to Houlton, and eventually to Caribou and Van Buren.  As the railroad continued to grow new tracks extended throughout eastern and northern Maine, primarily northern.
  The Medford Cutoff from Packard to South Lagrange enabled the BAR to extend lines to Millinocket and East Millinocket; and in Van Buren a bridge was built to connect the BAR to the Canadian National Railway.
  BAR began hauling potatoes in heated boxcars in 1895 and during the great depression they (the potatoes) provided 50% of the revenue for the BAR.  The end for hauling spuds ended when the Penn Central Transportation Company interchange service had gotten so bad that a full BAR load of potatoes froze and were spoiled in 1969-1970, several Aroostook County farms had to close and sell because of the fiasco.
  The BAR carried chemical and petroleum products for the paper mills in Maine, and ammunition and aviation fuels to Dow and Loring Air Force Bases for the Strategic Air Command.
  The colors of the US flag appeared during the 1950's and were adopted for use up until the railroad was sold to the Montreal, Maine and Maritimes Company in 2003; adding to the sad history of American Railroads.
The pink rails were still used in 2003
the red lines were discontinued at
different times - click to enlarge
BAR 357 switches over at a potato processing plant in Fort Fairfield - wikipedia

Friday, March 30, 2012

St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad

Grand Trunk Station Portland, Maine wikipedia photo - click
  The St. Lawrence and Atlantic was a 150 mile road that operated between Portland, Maine and Island Pond, Vermont.  The route had a few curves and bends during those 150 miles while going from Portland, through New Clouster and Lewiston/Auburn and Rumford on the way.  It operated from 1845 until 1960 and part of the route is still served by the Montreal Maine and Atlantic and the Canadian National Railroads.
  The Grand Trunk Station was torn down long before that line stopped running, the lot was used to build a meat processing plant, Jordan's, which is closed and gone as well, a new Hotel/Condo project is underway there on India Street.  Some of the other stations have been preserved but many are now history; there are times when preservation efforts haven't been used and should have been.  Portland has lost both of its' historic large train stations, Bangors' Union Station is gone too.
  The Wikipedia article on this road is long with detailed listing of all the stops this route had in its' 150 miles and all photos used here are from that article.
An early St. Lawrence and Atlantic locomotive, the Coos.
The South Paris, Maine station, now gone
Berlin, New Hampshire.  This station may still be with us.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Androscoggin Railroad

The Leeds locomotive.
  The Androscoggin Railroad seemed to be a part of the network of Railroads that included Maine Central Railroads Lewiston, Androscoggin, and Rangley Branches. 
  All "Portland gauge" Railroads, I think that was somewhere between Standard and Narrow Gauge.  The Androscoggin Branch ran from near Sabattus all the way to Oquossoc near Rangley.  That is all pretty much in a straight line with a few curves around the rivers and lakes.
  The Lewiston Branch, Androscoggin Branch, Rangley Branch and Livermore Falls Branch all were separate "parts" of the Maine Central Railroad, and each of them was a separate railroad.  Kind of complicated - sort of like the banking network today.
A Mortgage for the Androscoggin Railroad
The Androscoggin Bridge for the railroad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bridgton and Saco River Railroad

The Bridgton Station.  Photo Bridgton Historical Society
  Established in 1882 this railroad was a narrow guage line about 21 miles in length.  Track was laid from Bridgton to Hiram (on the Saco River) and extended northwest from Bridgton to Harrison.
  Business was brisk with both passengers and freight, cars loaded with freight that transferred to the Maine Central RR in Hiram were re-loaded onto other cars on a siding, the B&SR narrow gauge cars would not work on Maine Centrals' regular tracks.
  Bus and truck traffic in the late 1920's took a toll on the B&SR and part of the line was discontinued.
Service between Bridgton and Harrison ran until 1941 and the rail cars and locomotive stock were sold to the Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts.
  Small railroads like this one were really the canaries in the railroad "coal mine", a warning to the large railroads that competition with automotive transport would be tough, and the railroads needed to do a bit more to stay active.
The trestle and Harrison Station.  Photo Bridgton Historical Society
A train leaving Harrison Photo Bridgton Historical Society
The Notch in Hiram, the 600 foot elevation had to be reduced.
Photo Bridgton Historical Society

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sanford and Eastern Railroad

A Locomotive
  This railroad operated as a "branch" of the Boston and Maine for a time between 1949-1961.  The line went from Rochester, New Hampshire to Westbrook, Maine.  The state line is between Rochester and Lebanon, Maine (my home town); Sanford is the next town over.  The Rochester to Sanford line was closed in 1952, and I still remember when it closed.  When it was the actual Boston and Maine that ran the line my grandfather Grant worked on it and my Dad and his brothers and sisters all rode the train to Sanford to attend high school, Lebanon doesn't have a high school so Sanford was the place to go.
  I remember, as a little boy, going to "Eastwood" to watch the trains, huge steam locomotives billowing smoke and steam - wonders of engineering; at least to me.  I also remember when the diesel electric locomotives came; how dull they were and I missed the "old ones".
  I went to Lakeview Plantation some years ago just to watch a train, a steam locomotive that was on a special run - it was just like I was a kid again for a few minutes.
I couldn't find a photo of the old Eastwood Depot, but this one located in
Alton Bay, New Hampshire is a fine example.  They really look alike.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Aroostook Valley Railroad

AVR12 in 1989 -click
  Arthur R. Gould arrived in Presque Isle in 1888 having left East Corinth where he was a very successful salesman.  Mr. Gould was a "doer" and now-a-days we'd call him a "shaker and mover" or a "wheeler dealer".  Presque Isle, at that time, had no bank so Mr. Gould would loan money to local businessmen and gained a lot of influence.
  In 1905 during a search for lumber in Washburn he realized the need for transportation in the area.  A problem arose because the was, yes really, a law on the books in Maine  named "an Act to provide aid to the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad".  The purpose, of course, was to stifle competition, Mr. Gould won out and the Railroad started to build.  The Railway opened in 1910.
  The AVR was an all-electric train at first using "trolley" kinds of cars, those cars would carry passengers and freight.  The power was carried on a "live wire" at 1200 volts from sub-station to sub-station; the electric trains went out of service in 1932.
  The Railroad grew and eventually Mr. Gould sold out to the Canadian Pacific Railroad for the handsome price of $225 per share - he made a significant amount.
  Mr. Arthur R. Gould went on to serve in both the Maine and U. S. Senates.  A man that saw a need and found a way to fill it.  For more reading on this subject: Http://
One of the electric cars.  Postcard on sale at
Trestle across the Aroostook River at Presque Isle.
Shown in 2005, the railroad ceased operation shortly after.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bangor and Katahdin Iron Works Railway

One of the small locomotives
  Katahdin Iron Works is a Historical Site located in Piscataquis County near Brownville Junction.  As its name implies the township was formed to mine, smelt and make iron.
  In 1843 a formation of Limonite Gossan, a type of iron sulfide ore was found in the area.  Piscataquis Iron Works Company built 18 charcoal kilns to get heat for a 55 foot high rock blast furnace.  About 2000 tons of pig iron were made annually.  There was a company town with houses, a post office and store and the Railway was formed to carry people and goods from the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad yards in Derby (now part of Milo) to the "new" town.
  A total of three locomotives owned by the Railway, number 2 in the above photo was made by Hinkley Locomotive Works.  The Railway also served to haul wood to make charcoal until 1888 when the local forest were depleted, the factory was torn down and parts were sent to Nova Scotia in 1890.
  Today there are parts of the kilns and smelter left to visit and the land can be a pleasure to walk around on.  The KI township is an un-organized township managed by the State and the Northern Woods Organization (a group of lumber interests) and a very small fee is charged to enter parts of the land.  Gulf Hagas and the The Hermitage-a 43 acre grove of trees owned by The Nature Conservancy are located in the KI (a local name for the township).  The Appalachian Trail runs through the township too.  Come and see for yourself, you'll need good shoes and some energy.
Visitors learn about the blast furnace (background).  Maine Dept. of Conservation
Another part-the Railway this
The complete plant and Railway equipment in 1880. Maine Dept. of Conservation
You can see the rock part of the plants that's still there (#3)