Maine's Tourist Railways - Trolleys, Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge

Tourist Trains In Maine

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Maine once had five operating narrow gauge railroads.Downeast Scenic - Maine's newest tourist train ride.Seashore Trolley MuseumBelfast and Moosehead RailroadThe Trains Of Eagle Lake And The Allagash Wilderness
Maine once had five operating narrow gauge railroads.
Maine once had five operating narrow gauge railroads.
Downeast Scenic - Maine's newest tourist train ride.
Downeast Scenic - Maine's newest tourist train ride.
Seashore Trolley Museum
Seashore Trolley Museum
Belfast and Moosehead Railroad
Belfast and Moosehead Railroad
The Trains Of Eagle Lake And The Allagash Wilderness
The Trains Of Eagle Lake And The Allagash Wilderness

Rail Fanning Across New England Series

Part of an ongoing series of articles on tourist trains and rail fanning opportunities in New England.

Heading for Maine this summer? Why not take a train ride?

Maine is known has "Vacationland" as thousands upon thousands of tourist head to Maine's lakes, mountains and coastal villages each summer to cool off. Most head to coastline and sometimes it feels like everyone is at the hot spots like Bar Harbor, Acadia National park or the York area. But did you know the state of Maine is also a Mecca for train buffs? Especially narrow gauge fans who covet the tiny two footers of Maine.

At one point Maine boasted five "two footer" narrow gauge railroads -

  1. Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes
  2. Bridgton & Saco River (later the Bridgton & Harrison)
  3. Monson
  4. Kennebec Central
  5. Wiscasset and Quebec (later the Wiscasset, Waterville, & Farmington)

These tiny trains ran on rails set only two feet apart compared to standard rail which is four feet 8 1/2 inches. The smaller trains were less expensive and could handle the rough terrain of Maine.

When these railways stopped running they were sold for scrap except for an impressive collection purchase by Ellis D. Atwood and became the bases for his Edaville Railroad amusement park in South Carver, Massachusetts in 1947. Recently the Edaville Railroad and amusement park has had some restructuring and lot of the narrow gauge equipment was sold to the newly formed Narrow Gauge Museum in Portland, ME. Thanks to Mr. Atwood these historic treasures have been saved are now back in the state of Maine. Plus having the equipment back has spured the creation of museums in each of the areas the original two footers operated. Local preservation groups are working with the Narrow Gauge Museum in Portland which loans equipment to the various local groups and track is being expanded, buildings are being rebuilt and the equipment is being restored. It is now possible to take a train ride on most of the original lines.

Besides the narrow gauge lines, Maine also boasts several tourist train operations using standard rail and even trolleys. Here is a review of all the rail fanning experiences you can find in the state of Maine.

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad

A good place to start a Maine rail fan trip is in Portland at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum. The Museum collects, preserves, displays, interprets, and operates historic railroad equipment from Maine’s two-foot-gauge railways for the education and enjoyment of the public. Their motto is "Small Trains, Big Story".

They operate four steam & one diesel locomotive and offer a 3 mile round trip along scenic casco bay on the Portland waterfront on the former Grand Trunk RR main line. The half an hour trip ends at a bridge where you can get out and take pictures of the bay and the train.

Maine Narrow Gauge Museum

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad

Visit the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad on the shores of beautiful Penobscot Bay! Belfast Station is located in an original Rail Car and offers a unique Rail excursion through the Coastal Woodlands powered by our Classic GE 70 ton Locomotive. Ride in our Vintage Swedish Rail Cars and enjoy lunch in the dining car while you view the shimmering waters of Maine's largest bay to the pristine woodlands, rolling fields, and streams of Waldo County. This 1 hr and 45-minute round trip excursion includes beautiful views of Belfast Harbor, its rivers, and coves.

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad

Fort Fairfield Railroad Museum

Fort Fairfield Railroad Museum is a tourist railroad that operates 8 mile motor car trips and equipment displays. Unfortunately I don't have much information on this museum as I believe it is undergoing some organizational changes.

Seashore Trolley Museum

ALL ABOARD! calls your friendly Conductor, signaling that your streetcar (trolley) is about to depart. RIDE by rail through the Maine countryside, aboard one of our early 1900's open streetcars. On a warm summer's day, this is natural "air conditioning" at its very best! WITNESS the sights and sounds, of a very important bygone era, in American transportation history.

Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway Museum

The Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway was a two-foot gauge common carrier railroad that operated in the early part of the 1900's, 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.. More information on the WWF.

Seashore Trolley Museum

Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington

Maine Eastern Railroad

Maine Eastern Railroad is a full-size passenger excursion train with round trip service between Brunswick and Rockland. With stops in Bath and Wiscasset, Maine Eastern passengers ride in comfort and style in fully restored, climate-controlled, art deco vintage railroad coaches. 33 bridges and trestles, more than a hundred curves and an unlimited amount of scenery, woods and water views in the 57-mile trip in one direction.

Maine Eastern Railroad

Downeast Scenic Railroad

The state's newest tourist train operation is the Downeast Scenic Railroad in Ellsworth, Maine at the gateway to Mount Desert Island (Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park).

After years of restoration work on the railway, a 1948 diesel engine and vintage rolling stock this line opened July 31st, 2010. They run two rides a day from Ellsworth, on the historic Calais Branch Line to Ellsworth Falls and then to Washington Junction and back to Ellsworth. The ten-mile trip takes approximately 90 minutes.


Downeast Scenic Railroad

Boothbay Railway Village

Boothbay Railway Village is an all around transportation museum and has one of the finestexhibitsof classic, vintage and antique automobiles in New England. It also boasts ahistoric village displays and the operating live steam narrow gauge train.

Boothbay Railway Village

Monson Railroad

One of Maine's two footers, this narrow gauge railroad's primary purpose was to carry slate from the quarry to Monson Jct. but ultimately it was used for passengers, mail and freight. Monson became the last of Maine's two-foot gauge railroads in commercial operation.

Unfortunately today the Monson Railroad has no organized preservation group looking after it. The Portland Narrow Gauge Museum has a few of the original locomotives and cars. And some of the equipment is loaned out to various Mainer two footer preservation societies. The railroad station in Monson is under private ownership.

Monson Railroad

Sandy River & Rangely Lakes Railroad

In 1879 an economic alternative, a two foot railroad, connected the Rangeley lakes resort area as well Strong, Phillips, Kingfield and other communities who had rich stocks of timber that needed transportation.

In 1970 preservation work began on the line so that today under the name of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad (a non-profit division of the Phillips Historical Society), visitors can still ride on the rails of this historic narrow gauge railroad.

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad

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Comments 3 comments

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Valuable information and I really enjoy all descriptions. I love all videos here. Well done, my friend. Rated up!

Prasetio


peanutroaster profile image

peanutroaster 5 years ago from New England Author

thanks prasetio30, hope you get to ride the rails this summer!


Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

Trains always fascinate. Nice hub.

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