• 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 ThinkNarrow
The Wiscasset station on the WW&F was very close to the Wiscasset station on the MEC. If you look at the first picture in the "History" section of the WW&F website http://www.wwfry.org,the MEC crossing is only a few feet behind the train, and you'll see a building at the far right that is part of the MEC station complex. If you can find a copy of Narrow Gauge in the Sheepscot Valley, Vol 1, there are a lot of details of the Wiscasset station area. I expect that the first section of the long trestlework/causeway was built to provide a conveniently walkable station-to-station transfer for the passengers.

The second section of the trestlework/causeway, between the station and the wharves, was indeed for freight service. The Wiscasset & Quebec was one of several railroads built (or attempted) between the Maine coast and Quebec to capture grain and other traffic from Canada at a time when the St. Lawrence River froze in the winter. Also, we tend to forget how important shipping was a hundred or more years ago. Wiscasset has a well-sheltered harbor and was for many years an important port (although not as important as the W&Q/WW&F might have liked). For some interesting ships, Google "Luther Little" and "Hesper", the ships that the WW&F's last owner bought with the idea of transporting lumber by railroad and ship to Boston.

  by gokeefe

I was aware of the Hesper and the Luther Little but until a second read of the WW&F history referred to something along the lines of 'bringing two schooners to Wiscasset' I hadn't realized the link between the Hesper & Luther Little to the WW&F. I think in some ways it makes it all that much more important that WW&F think seriously about returning to Wiscasset. The line really is a major part of the town's history. Although that day is far far away into the future I think it should at least be considered. At least that way the loss of the schooners won't feel like a total loss if the railroad arrives back in Wiscasset.

Perhaps you bring the flat car for a ceremonial attempt to 'ship' lumber.
  by ThinkNarrow
It would be indeed wonderful to reach Wiscasset, as that would bring us closer to re-creating the original railway and its role in the local area. It's also where the tourists are. :-D

However, there are a number of physical problems in addition to the houses on the right-of-way that Mike mentioned in his 16 March post. Slightly south of the WW&F Railway Museum's present facility there is a section of right-of-way that has been flooded by an improvised dam. Further south, the right-of-way ran parallel to Maine 218 between that road and a small brook. Maine 218 has since been widened such that the railway's right-of-way is only a few feet wide. Making it usefully wide would require either encroaching on the highway or on the brook. Yet closer to Wiscasset, the former yard is now a school field, and the right-of-way along the banks of the Sheepscot has washed away somewhat. Finally, the entire trestlework that approached the Maine Central crossing would have to be rebuilt.

There are also operational problems in addition to the physical problems. Like most museums, most of our visitors are non-railfans. Typical visitors, especially those with children, want a ride that lasts less than one hour. At 10 or 15 mph, that means a distance of five to seven miles out - assuming that we didn't let people off the train at the end point and didn't run the engine around at either end of the trip. If one adds runarounds and some visitor off-train time, the limit is more like three or four miles out.

Yet another consideration is how much railway a volunteer organization can maintain. The existence of stumps from our original clearing work plus an exciting topography in a few places have made machine-trimming of the grass along the right-of-way nearly impossible. Instead, we use hand-held string trimmers and blade trimmers. Maintaining proper lining and leveling is also labor intensive.

All of the above points to a Sheepcot to Head Tide railway of about 4.3 miles as being an ideal length. We can always dream of Wiscasset, and I'm sure that we'll always keep it in mind, but it's a pretty hazy dream.

  by gokeefe
Thanks for the thoughtful response. If I'm not mistaken the plan that you proposed, isn't Sheepscot to Head Tide is pretty close to the limits of what WW&F has right now? To fulfill this proposal how far does the WW&F have left to go? I agree that based on the issues specified that Wiscasset is pretty unrealistic now and probably in the future too.

I also think that keeping in mind that the tourist base is in fact in Wiscasset is also important. I recently lived in the area for two years and was working down in Boothbay Harbor. I saw the signs many times for Alna but never took the opportunity to come down and see you guys. I am assuming that the issues related to Maine Eastern and even to a lesser extent the Amtrak Downeaster extension are things that are being considered in your planning.

Although I know the Brunswick extension hasn't happened yet in some ways I think the WW&F will be affected by it. In my opinion I think you can count on the idea of the Maine Eastern being significantly more active once the Downeaster gets to Brunswick. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see year-round operations to Brunswick from Rockland.

This change may have the effect of strengthening Maine Eastern's ability to attract tourist interest in their operation, possibly to the detriment of WW&F. They currently attract large numbers of families with children for their events in particular the literacy based Polar Express operation close to Christmas. Events like these and others increase their exposure to the locals who in turn provide word of mouth marketing to 'people from away'.

It seems to me that there is somewhat of an overlap in the markets that both operations are looking to attract, famlies with children, and tourists to the Wiscasset area. Given this situation improvements to the 'comfort' facilities may bring about incremental increases in visitors and ensure the long-term stability of the line. You have one major advantage over Maine Eastern that I can see in this respect and that is your superior local facilities and shorter duration of trip make the operation more accessible to people in the Wiscasset area.

Beyond the immediate advantages WW&F has a far clearer educational mission as opposed to Maine Eastern which is in essence closer to being a transportation resource providing on board entertainment and relaxation with a tertiary educational effect only by exposure to a historic route. Does the museum current try to attract small school groups? If not I think there is a legitimate possibility for WW&F to do that. Perhaps this is further off into the future when the property is more developed.

I understand a lot of what I have just written has probably been considered in the past. Perhaps you can take it as an affirmation of your current thinking on these subjects.

I think its time to pay a visit to the museum. I'll try to stop in on a Saturday in the next few weeks. Take care!
  by steveh
All, HD clip of "Photographer's Special" freight train shot during "Annual Picnic" at the WW&F Ry Museum. (Annual Picnic weekend is August 8 & 9 this year). Footage has been uploaded to Vimeo in HD. http://vimeo.com/4552678

Ah, Maine...

  by Steve Zuppa
A little bit of the Calais Branch will live on at the WW&F. 300 ties from the branch were delivered to Sheepscot today for use on our mainline. Good sturdy oak stuff. Great for spiking by hand. The track crew will be thrilled.
  by Cosmo
Yes! A fine "score," to say the least!
Kdos to those who made it happen. :wink:
  by Benjamin Maggi
Can someone tell me if plans for Engine #52 (which wasn't originally built for the WW&F) are out there? I am looking to build a model in 7/8" scale, which means taking Gauge 1 (45mm) track and using it to represent 2-foot gauge models. Not living anywhere near Maine, I won't be able to get up there and photograph or take measurements.

Or, have commerical models ever been available? I could always contact the seller to see where they obtained plans.

Anyone? Thanks.
  by gokeefe
Now that the summer and fall seasons have wound down it would be great to hear from someone affiliated with the WW&F on how the season went.

Hope everything is going well. An update on the latest projects would be great too!
  by Cosmo
The season KICKED BUTT! :-D
Ok, seriously, the season went quite well. The museum finalized it's purchase of Coach #3 from MNGRR and put the Model T railcar into operation! Attendance was at least as good if not better than previous years (I don't have the numbers in front of me,) and the #10 performed her duties as well as ever.
At the track-work weekend in early October we changed out approx 800' of lighter, (35-40 lb) rail (again, I don't have the exact measurements in front of me,) for heavier (56 + 60 lb) rail from the yard lead all the way up to the Davis Curve. We also installed a new switch to take a siding into what will eventually be the lead for a turntable, roundhouse and car shed! YES, that's right, the WW&F will have both a roundhouse and turntable sometime in the future. :-D
Meanwhile, I understand the Halloween trains went well and we can expect similar attendance for the ever-popular Victorian Christmas trains in December.
For more about the WW&FRR, tune into the forum at: http://forum.wwfry.org/
Last edited by Cosmo on Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Cosmo
Good question!
There may be a boxcar at Boothbay, but for the most part YES, they do now that they officially own W&Q #3. That, the flatcar, the boxcar and #9 are about the only other remaining pieces of original WW&FRR that I am aware of. All the aforementioned are at Sheepscott.
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