• End of Steam 1960

  • Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).
Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

Moderator: MEC407

  by S1f3432
 
Those of you who are history buffs might be interested to note that today marks 60 years since CP
ended the regular every day use of steam power on the Scoot, mixed trains 517 and 518 between
Brownville Juntion and Megantic, with the eastbound passage of train 518 behind P1d 2-8-2 5107
on Tuesday, March 29, 1960. The next day the train was behind an RS-3. During that week between
March 28 and April 2 a number of engines- 946-1072-2229-2663-3514- would handle a variety of
locals and yard assignments between Farnham and Megantic for the final time. 5107 made one final
trip west on the Scoot train 517 on Friday April 8 to Megantic. The next day, Saturday April 9, 5107
worked the Megantic-Sherbrooke wayfreight and later train 913 from Sherbrooke to St. Luc. This
info is compiled from "Magnetic North" by Roger Cook and Karl Zimmerman ( 1999 ), an article in
Classic Trains by David Plowden ( Spring 2010 ) and a follow up letter-to-the-editor by an ex CP
employee in CT ( Sum 2010 ). I will also note the the last "regularly scheduled passenger steam" is
usually attributed to the GTW commuter trains beteen Detroit-Pontiac-Durand MI; this service ended
March 27.
  by Cowford
 
Good stuff! I've read very little about the demise of Brownville Junction's steam servicing facilities (and those at Holeb, etc.) I imagine that employment dropped a fair bit in Brownville Jct as steam winded down. Any idea when the roundhouse and coal dock were razed?
  by S1f3432
 
I'm not sure when the roundhouse at Brownville Jct. was demolished but it was gone by the time I
made my first trips up there in the late 70's. Regarding jobs- in the previously mentioned Spring 2010
Classic Trains article by David Plowden there is a half-page photo of solemn railroad employees gathered
on and about M-4 2-8-0 3514 at Megantic with mention in the article that many of them would soon be
unemployed. Even modern, "efficient" steam locomotives required extensive support facilities and
staff. A diesel was like your car; turn it off and walk away.
  by Cowford
 
S1f3432, I was going through some of my old slides in an end-of-year clean-up, and came across some pics I had taken in Brownville Jct in 1980. What was really surprising was that a couple of roster shots featured the roundhouse in the background. Not clear if the entire house was remaining or just the "newest" nine-stall section. It jogged my memory that something was left of the facilities when I first visited, but I certainly don't remember the details. I'm guessing that what remained of the roundhouse was razed in the early- to mid-80s, then?

A buddy of mine just loaned me a copy of "The Canadian Pacific Railroad (sic) in Brownville Junction, Maine 1886 - 1963" he recently purchased. The book was not written by a rail historian, and has its fair share of technical inaccuracies. Also, relevant pics are few and small. That said, it had some good tidbits/lore and it gives one a relatively good sense of how the pre-1960 terminal was laid out. It did state that CPR employment was reduced by 800 in the days leading up to, and following dieselization and the elimination of the Brownville Division. Hard to believe they had so many folks there (which included a full-time watchmaker until ~1955).
  by urr304
 
That was the same story in all of those shop towns, for example my point of origin was Greenville PA and the B&LE shops needed only 1/2 to 1/3 of its force in 1950's. Only freight car rebuilding kept employment up there.
  by S1f3432
 
Cowford, I just checked my Photoshop Lightroom catalogue of scanned slides to determine when my first
trips to Brownville Jct. were. I graduated from tech school in the late spring of 1975 and worked as an
electrician for 15 months for Cianbro in their maintenance shop at Pittsfield, ME prior to jumping ship to
MEC in 1976 and this central location allowed me to wander north and east on weekends more easily.
I have two small groups of slides, mostly roster type shots taken in October 75 and January 76, none
showing much as far as facilities are concerned. Being so long ago and my visits so brief my only memory
is the large vacant open area where the roundhouse used to be. You're right about Brownville being the
center of the universe for a lot of CPR employees- there really isn't a whole lot of anything substantial
between Saint John and Sherbooke and after dieselization and the cutbacks at the division points of
McAdam, Brownville Jct. and Megantic the distinction became even more stark.
  by RGlueck
 
My father-in-law was terminal electrician at Brownville Jct. The roundhouse and large complex of other buildings were standing until around 1974. The turntable pit was emptied, including the turntable itself. The roundhouse was collapsed by machines and bulldozed into the pit, then buried. God only knows what steam era tools and artifacts went into the hole. Not terribly long after that, when VIA dropped the "Atlantic Limited", the other buildings were emptied and torn down. The "Atlantic" was still a very popular and highly patronized train at the time, and probably a money maker. The brick station building became surplus, locked and unheated. Today it suffers from the typical malaise of abandoned stations. What was an amazing yard with ALCO C 636's and C-424's perking overnight became surplus land, and sold to local logging and trucking interests. Go figure.
In my opinion, a huge step backwards.
  by S1f3432
 
I was working on a project up in the County several years ago and swung through Brownville Jct. on
one of my trips up there as I hadn't been there in a long time and was surprised to see the station
closed. Thought it might have continued to be used as a crew / maintenance base.
  by Cowford
 
Railroad occupancy of the station lasted through at least CP and CAR. Not sure 1) when it was shuttered, or 2) who gave it a hip roof (or why, or when).