• The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

  • Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.
Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

  by b&m 1566
 
Saw some pictures on NErail on the ex-MEC Mountain Division. Some pictures were taken just east of Redstone. The track for being almost abandoned for 21 years now looks very, very good. I wonder if the ties are still good for a train to run on them? It's really sad that Guilford stopped operations on the line. They let one winter decide the fate of the line for good. Take a look at these pictures
http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ne_Central

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ne_Central

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ne_Central

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ne_Central

Here is a Picture when it was still active. Taken in Bartlett http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ne_Central there are many more picture of the line.
  by wolfmom69
 
b&m 1566,It was NOT "one winter" that decided the fate of the Mt. Div! It was a sound business decision,that alienated railfans everywhere. This always was an expensive line to operate,had virtually NO on line industries,major consignees,from Westbrook to Gilman. GRS made "arrangements" for the CP interchange to take place at "Keag",vs. MEC getting the extra miles going through the 'notch. Add that to the "failure of the dream" of using the St.J & L.C. to move freight further to the west,and the line was "in the red".

We all miss it,and should be glad that the most scenic part has been preserved for tourist operations. Bud :-)

  by MEC407
 
b&m 1566 wrote:The track for being almost abandoned for 21 years now looks very, very good. I wonder if the ties are still good for a train to run on them?
I can't speak to the condition of the line in NH and VT, but I had a chance to tag along with a track inspector on the section in Maine from Sebago Lake to Fryeburg last summer. The ties are not in good shape. Some of them are nothing more than rectangular piles of sawdust. Most of them still have date nails, and a lot of those nails have numbers such as "59", "47", "38" or even lower, which gives you an idea of just how old they are.

Ballast is just as important as ties, and in a lot of places, there is simply no ballast.

The rails may look good, and in most places they are fine for the most part, but that only tells part of the story. They are very light by today's standards. Mostly 85-90 LB I believe.

According to the experts I've spoken to: If the grade crossings were repaired, and the track checked for proper gauge and re-gauged as necessary, you could probably run something like a GE 44-tonner. Nothing bigger than that without tie work, ballast replacement, and load-testing the bridges and culverts.

  by Noel Weaver
 
MEC407 wrote:
b&m 1566 wrote:The track for being almost abandoned for 21 years now looks very, very good. I wonder if the ties are still good for a train to run on them?
I can't speak to the condition of the line in NH and VT, but I had a chance to tag along with a track inspector on the section in Maine from Sebago Lake to Fryeburg last summer. The ties are not in good shape. Some of them are nothing more than rectangular piles of sawdust. Most of them still have date nails, and a lot of those nails have numbers such as "59", "47", "38" or even lower, which gives you an idea of just how old they are.

Ballast is just as important as ties, and in a lot of places, there is simply no ballast.

The rails may look good, and in most places they are fine for the most part, but that only tells part of the story. They are very light by today's standards. Mostly 85-90 LB I believe.

According to the experts I've spoken to: If the grade crossings were repaired, and the track checked for proper gauge and re-gauged as necessary, you could probably run something like a GE 44-tonner. Nothing bigger than that without tie work, ballast replacement, and load-testing the bridges and culverts.
One reason that much of the rail is still in place is the fact that it is
relatively light rail and not in general over the road use today.
I don't see any hope for this line other than the section(s) that are being
used today. St. Johnsbury - Whitefield should be kept in place though and
maybe someday there could be hope there.
Noel Weaver

  by b&m 1566
 
Ok so I misunderstood when I was told the story on how the line was closed. But for me, I do see the line re-opening for possible use; I can see freight running all the way to Fryburg, ME and even to the N. Conway area. Some of the customers that have served the line are still there and a railroad with good marketing maybe able to get some new business in the area. As for passengers, I don't know but I know a study is being done to see if anything is there. I noted Amtrak as being the operators of the line but any railroad could be, if the business is there for it. The line West of Whitefield I don't know that much about, so I'm not going to say anything about it.

  by MEC407
 
As far as I know, there were very few customers on the Maine portion of the Mountain Division even before Guilford took over. The main reason Maine Central kept the line open was because it was their primary connection to the west. Once Guilford took control of the B&M and had other options for moving traffic west, that was the nail in the Mountain Division's coffin. At least that's how I've heard the story told. Anybody feel free to correct me if I got it wrong.

There ARE still some companies situated along the Mountain Division, and many of them probably could ship by rail... but the problem is that these are very small industries, and the one or two cars per week that they'd be sending/receiving probably couldn't come close to making the line profitable, or even breaking even for that matter. :(
  by NRGeep
 
Was there ever a "runaway train" on the Mountain Division?
  by p&w3901
 
I remember hearing about one when I rode the CSRR, but can't recall the year or location on the line

  by ferroequinarchaeologist
 
There were two, according to the 470 Club's book on the Mountain Division: January 23, 1890 and January 14, 1918, both on the curves below Bemis (Notchland).

PBM

  by Cowford
 
More recently, YR-1 was caught in an avalache... I believe April 1984, just before the line was closed.

  by b&m 1566
 
I found the website that talks about the Crown of New England Railroad project for the Mountain Division.
Click on the link http://www.trainweb.org/nhrra/Crown/CROWN_OF_NE.htm

  by Noel Weaver
 
b&m 1566 wrote:I found the website that talks about the Crown of New England Railroad project for the Mountain Division.
Click on the link http://www.trainweb.org/nhrra/Crown/CROWN_OF_NE.htm
Same general problems here as with the other proposal for the line
between Bangor and Calais, nice scenery but little or no prospect for
viable freight operations and not enough population for a viable
passenger operation either.
One propsect if it could be made to happen would be for the reopening of
the old Boston and Maine Conway Branch through. There is existing
freight business on the line and the lack of really good roads to/from
Boston and North Conway make this a better prospect, not great but
better than others.
I am sure there are a lot of us who would like to see things as they were
50 years ago but it is just not possible today, in my opinion.
Noel Weaver

  by NRGeep
 
What about fifty years in the future? With the price of petrolium continuing to rise new thinking is required from the private sector. Reopening the Mountain Division or the Calais might not be the answer but could be part of the solution down the road. The least we can do is preserve the ROW's so when new yet to be invented technologies surface we won't be without roadbed resources. Certainly Maglev technology is cost prohibitive at present but if it ever becomes cost efficient it could take alot of trucks off our clogged highways and move freight much faster too.

  by Engineer999
 
I think the main issue here is that you have to build (or rebuilt) the infrastructure before you can get industries to establish themselves along the RR. This is similar to when the RRs were expanding in the 1800's, many had no towns or industry along the territory that they crossed, but once established, the industry came. It might take ten years to attract new customers for freight. Gov't will have to subsidize the RRs until then. They also need to develop ways to deliver feight to central assembly points along the RRs.

Some will argue that the highway system will take care of any small companies that might pop up, but that might not be true. Just try to get through Massachusetts on any of the Interstates during the day. I95, I93, I90, I495, I290 are all filled to the edges with traffic. And it doesn't get any better west of MA.

Think of a deepwater seaport in Maine taking containers that would travel across the state of Maine to Portland, up the Mountain Division to Canadian connections that go West. Suzy-Q made a good business out of it for many years. If you took 1 of every 50 trucks that move from Maine to the West every day, and put them on the rails, you would have more than most RRs could handle in a single day.

As the man said, "Build it and they will come."

Engineer999
Lived along Mtn. Division before Guilford.
Only one freight train each day but it was 120 cars long............

etc

  by Noel Weaver
 
Portland already has an existing railroad to the northwest and Canada.
It is called the St. Lawrence and Atlantic (formerly GT and CN). Portland
does NOT need two railroads to the northwest and Canada.
I don't see any major industries locating in the Maine countryside, White
Mountains or northern Vermont anytime soon, railroad or no railroad.
Future for present and in use portions of the Mountain Subdivision, tourist
passenger trains, furture for the out of service and abandoned portions,
none.
Sad but true, I would love to see it too but there is probably no hope.
Noel Weaver
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 133