• Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway (WW&F) Discussion

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by Cosmo
Oh, DUH!
THAT state road.
Yep, I've been over that stretch. I, (like many other's, I'm sure,) have often wondered what it would take to get the RR past that section.
And yes, it's hard to imagine the line going much further North than Head Tide anytime in the next 30-40 years. :wink:
  by gokeefe
My thoughts turned to the WW&F recently. I was wondering what's really going on down there. Although many people who are actively involved in that operation occassionally post to Railroad.net there doesn't seem to be much news from them. Clicking on the "Recent News" link to their website reveals the missive "No News is Good News."

However, this is not necessarily the complete picture. Following the links to the discussion forums and 'surprise!' there's lots of information and disucssion regarding recent progress by the WW&F. Ongoing projects include expansion of their car barn and restoration of WW&F #9, which is, if I'm not mistaken, the only surviving locomotive from the WW&F. The boards are obviously a pretty tight community and have a great sense of humor. It's definitely a different flavor from Railroad.net.

There's a lot of impressive work going on down there and they aren't making a whole lot of noise about it.
  by Mikejf
Yes, you will find on the WW&F forum, real names are used. This gives it a real flavor. If you say something, you aren't hiding behind a made up name. Come, join in the discussion. Definately the place for the extremely narrow minded, as far as rails I mean. :-D
  by gokeefe
Does the WW&F as a group, board directors and volunteers at large, have an opinion about whether it is best for them to proceed towards Wiscasset or further North in the future once a state road is reached? Or perhaps would the group prefer to simply extend the Right of Way as far as possible without crossing a public road, stop, and then hold fast, for a long time to avoid FRA regulation, until the corporation feels comfortable proceeding forward as a regulated entity?

How far away is the Railroad right now from a public road to the north and how far away is it from a public road to the south? In other words how much wiggle room, in either direction, do you have?

Thanks for the earlier replies. I think progressive entities such as the WW&F should get some notice if not at least to generate more volunteer involvement and help.
  by Mikejf
We will continue to procede North, for now. The first public roadway to cross would be Route 218, roughly a mile North. This may be a temporary stopping point, having just conquered "The Mountain" and bridging Trout (Carlton) Brook. Longer term would be reach the Head Tide area, within sight of the Church. That is another 1/2 to 3/4 farther North.
South, we would have to immediately cross Cross Road and after that can only go a couple of miles before we reach a couple of houses built on the original grade. That would be the big stopping point there. Check out the Long Range Plan, by going to http://www.wwfry.org/ and click on Major Projects. Then on the left of the page, click on 2005 Long Range Plan. It breaks down pretty well what we hope to accomplish in the short term.
  by gokeefe
Thanks for the answers.

Is the Cross Road a road that qualifies as a 'public roadway' that is funded in such a way that FRA regulation would be incumbent on the railroad? As I was reading your post the thought came to mind that town roads may not be receipients of federal funds which I think are the 'trigger' for FRA regulation.
  by elecuyer
It is my understanding that whether we cross Cross road or Route 218, we will come into FRA jurisdiction. One of our most active members is an ex-Conrail exec. who has lots of knowledge and experience in dealing with the FRA. He is making sure that as we continue to grow, we are also getting up to speed with the various FRA requirements, in the event that we decide to continue north or south across one or both of the roadways.

For those who don't want to wade through the WW&F discussion forum for the latest news, you can also visit the Quarterly progress report page at: http://www.wwfry.org/aboutus/progress/progress.html (Or click on About us, then Restoration on the main WW&F web site.)

Of course, we welcome participation on the forum and/or Sheepscot station. On the forum, we do not allow "nicknames" to be used - but forum participants do not need to be members of the museum. If you want to help us out at the museum site, just show up (Saturdays are best) and introduce yourself - all ages and abilities are welcome.

-Ed Lecuyer
WW&F Discussion Forum Moderator
Occasional Volunteer, WW&F Railway
  by Mikejf
When the time comes to fall under FRA, the museum will be ready. I'm sure there will be a few things that will have to change or more like be modified, but we do things pretty much the way they need to be done now any way.
  by gokeefe
If and when that happens (more likely when not if...) would that mean the WW&F would be the only FRA regulated narrow gauge operation in Maine?

I guess to phrase it another way I'm not aware of MNGRR or the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes operation having any public road crossings, therefore they too do not fall under FRA jurisdiction.

For that matter does anyone how many narrow gauge operations anywhere in the country cross public roads? Now that I think of it I can't ever remember seeing a photo of a narrow gauge locomotive traveling through a grade crossing anywhere in the U.S.

On another note what regulatory entities do have responsibility for ensuring safety when it somes to small operations like this that are not under FRA scrutiny? Does state jurisdiction of some kind apply here?

I would like to emphasize that I'm not asking these questions because I have any particular safety concern. Everything I've ever read about the WW&F, unlike some of their narrow gauge counterparts, indicates a highly professional operation with a serious commitment to operating safely. It seems clear to me that everyone at the WW&F believes that safety should come first.There are also some great visionary people both in the railroad's past and at present in their leadership that have a long-term vision for what the museum can be and they know that a safe railroad makes for an operating railroad.

Thanks in advance for the further discussion.
  by Mikejf
I don't know what regulatory entity would over see the safety of the WW&F but I'm thinking we would follow the same rules of the "broad Gauge" counterparts in the state. The only difference is size.
And the Maine Narrow Gauge does fall under FRA for some reason. They do cross a road in Portland along with a bike/Pedestrian path. So we wouldn't be the first. And I'm sure we will have no trouble with the FRA standards.
  by jcpatten
The WW&F's boilers are regulated by the State of Maine. Safety, rules, etc are regulated by our rule books etc. We are not yet under FRA but I'm sure it's a matter of time.

FRA chose to regulate Maine Narrow Gauge Museum for their boilers only. As to other narrow gauge railraods that cross roads, the East Broad Top (in the East) as well as Cumbres & Toltec and Durange & Silverton both do and all three are under FRA. Edaville does cross a road but I think its a private road.

James Patten
WW&F wearer of many hats.
  by gokeefe
Since some great WW&F folks are watching...off hand what's the speed limit on your tracks and if they were FRA Class rated what Class would they be? I'm assuming either Class I or Class II but I'm not really sure as usually FRA classes work with standard gauge specifications.
  by Mikejf
Average train speed is usually 10 to 15 miles per hour. While the trains could go faster, this provides a liesurley ride through the country side. We have no speedometers, just someone had a gps with them one day. And you don't want the trip over too soon. I don't know the standards for the class system so I can't answer that. But the track is well lined and taken care of.
  by gokeefe
Thanks for the answers I had noticed in photos from the railroad that there seemed to be very generous amounts of ballast of the Right of Way and that the rails looked straight and true. I kind of had it in the back of my mind when I asked that since this truly is a 'scenic' not to mention historic operation that there would not likely be any interest or need to run trains anywhere close to track speed.

I'm assuming the 'old' WW&F would have put a little more of a hurry on, but then again perhaps not.

WW&F really is an interesting operation in many ways.

I've always found the story of Harry Percival fascinating in particular the corporate history of the Railroad and the fact that the W&Q was never formally disbanded.

When I initially read the history of the WW&F several years ago I assumed that the stop in Wiscasset was some type of station close to the MEC tracks. After a few more years and some more reading I found out about the 'causeway' with the diamond crossing of the MEC that brought the WW&F down to Wiscasset station. I was shocked to realize that the previous owners had in fact constructed a bridged shoreline right of way for about 300' simply for the sake of connecting to the Wiscasset wharf. Although in practice this makes sense in some ways it is still surprising today. If anyone from WW&F (or elsewhere) has more comments or knowledge regarding the Wiscasset causeway I'd be interested to hear them. It's so hard to imagine how or why there was ever sufficient potential freight traffic to the causeway construction. Perhaps when you factor in the lack of good roadways then this calculation makes a lot more sense.
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