The Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway - A Narrow Gauge Railroad Lives On

Wiscasset Station

A north-bound train waits at the Wiscasset station for departure time.
A north-bound train waits at the Wiscasset station for departure time.

A Maine Two Footer Reborn As a Museum

The Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway was a two-foot gauge common carrier railroad that operated in the early part of the 1900s, up until 1933 when the railroad ceased operations. The line ran from Wiscasset in the south, to Albion and Winslow in the north. The Museum is located at the site of the old Sheepscot station, with mainline track running north from Cross Road, on the original roadbed. The Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway museum is located at 97 Cross Road, in Alna, Maine.

Big State - Small Railroads

At one time Maine boasted five two foot narrow gauge railways.
At one time Maine boasted five two foot narrow gauge railways.
Beautiful day at the WW&F Railway Museum
Beautiful day at the WW&F Railway Museum | Source

Maine Two Footers

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroads (ME) (Images  of Rail)
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroads (ME) (Images of Rail)

A pictorial history of Maine's two foot narrow gauge railroads including the WW&F Railway.

 

History of the WW&F Railway

Like many small railroads of this era, the WW&F was created by the community which saw rail service as a way towards economic success. As early as the 1830 there was talk of building a railway in Wiscasset, Maine to revive the dying seaport.

Construction of the railway began in 1894. Once built, the line hauled mainly agricultural products to the coast. Potatoes were the main crop but the line also hauled poultry, lumber and was a mail carrier for the region. The American Woolen Company was located on the line so the railway also hauled wool products.

The railway ran until 1933 when it finally gave up to the competition of trucking that ended many small railway operations. Most of the railway was pulled up and scraped to pay off bills in 1934. Then the rest of the railway sat idle for three years looking for buyers until it was decided to scrap the equipment.

The husks of Engines 2 through 7 were scrapped in Wiscasset Yard. Eight was cut up right where it had been left, and its pieces were hauled away. The only exceptions to this destruction was Engine 9, Flatcar # 118, Boxcars 309 and 312, a tip car, and Coach 3. #9, 118, 309, and a quarter mile of rail from the Kennebec Central Railroad were bought by a group of railfans. But that was not the end of the railway although it seemed like the WW&F would fade into history.

Like a lot of the Maine narrow gauge railroads, piece were either scraped or dispersed. Luckily for narrow gauge railfans a cranberry farmer and train lover from Massachusetts named Ellis D. Atwood purchased most of the surviving equipment from Maine’s once expansive network of two-foot gauge rail’s and had them trucked south to Carver, Massachusetts. There he created the Edaville (using the E.D.A. from his name) Railroad amusement park.

Rebirth of the WW&F Railway

But the amazing turn of events doesn't stop there. In the 80s and 90s Edaville was in decline and shut down in 1991. The collection of narrow gauge railroad equipment sat unprotected for three years. Meanwhile back in Maine, historical museums were forming around the original two foot railways. Most notably in Portland the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum (at the old Portland Locomotive Works) was formed. The MNGR&M purchased at auction the narrow gauge equipment from Edaville. (Note: Ednaville itself has been reborn and is back in operation )

In the proceeding years, with much of the original equipment back in the state of Maine, Portland's Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum has spawned a new birth of narrow gauge lines by restoring and loaning equipment to sister railways such as the reborn WW&F plus the Monson , Billerica & Bedford Railroad and the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad . So today rail fans can actually ride these historic railways with some of the original equipment thanks to a cranberry farmer from Massachusetts.

Today the WW&F Railway Museum operates a museum, gift shop and runs train excursions via diesel and steam. You have to check the schedule to see which trains are running. The museum is most of the year on Fridays and Saturdays with the addition of Sunday in the summer months. Trains don't run in the winter but the museum is open.

More info on the WW&F Railway Museum at http://www.wwfry.org/

WW&F at Christmas

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