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My long suffering state of Maine and its dilapidated RR system

Hello all. While I don't think anyone here particularly cares about minor railroads in states on the other side of the country, I just have to express my dismay with my old home state and the sorry state of its rail infrastructure, not too dissimilar with that of the NWP not too long ago. Plus, the New England railroad forum that I used to contribute to is defunct thanks to stupid bickering, trolling, poor management and horrible design.

Maine used to be dominated by the Maine Central covering the south half of the state, and the Bangor and Aroostook covering the north half. Both have long gone, killed off by the post industrial paradigm shift in the 70's. Pan Am and Guilford under the Mellon family "operates" the former MC, what wasn't abandoned, and the B&A is now gone through two different companies, and state ownership. When I visited Maine last year investigating some abandoned railroads, I got a close look at the former MC rail yard at Pittsfield,  and the conditions shocked me at how bad the main lines were.

About the only bright spot is the development of the Amtrak line up to Brunswick in the South.

So, while things aren't perfect up there in northern California, you guys at least have a functional railroad that's come back from the dead. Things in my old state are in a state of general decay.

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Comment by Richard C. Brand on September 15, 2014 at 4:16pm


Finally  getting around to distributing the pictures that I took on the Maine Eastern.   I'll post the one with the loco sitting next to Amtrak in Brunswick.

Comment by Andrew F. Laverdiere on August 21, 2014 at 11:24pm

Glad to see that things are working out for you so far Richard. It's a stretch to compare the NE Amtrak corridor with Europe, but it approximates it at least. If you have some time, there are two narrow gauge railway museums, one in Portland near the location of the former Portland Company, a manufacturer of steam engines and the other in Alna which is a short distance north of Wiscasset, one of the stops on the MERR.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on August 21, 2014 at 8:00pm

Andrew: Yesterday and in part thanks to your guidance, my wife and I rode the amtrak from Boston to the EoL in Brunswick.  What a spectacular ride on a European quality roadbed.  This is A++ and the locals in Brunswick say that Amtrak has plans to extend the line on into Augusta.  This is such beautiful country which deserves to be seen by other citizens of the US by rail so I hope that Amtrak can find the funding to do just that.  Write you Congressperson and Senators and ask them to support Amtrak.  I will and I don't even live there but was so impressed.

As to freight, while I saw a LOT of ripped up rails and sleepers, I also saw many freestanding lonely smokestacks that speak volumes about the change of the commercial environment in Maine as with many other states.

The rumor I heard was that Portland is being considered as a new trans Atlantic shipping port with rail transport into Boston and points west.  Would make sense and I saw miles of double track being added to the rail line between Boston and Portland.

As to the northern sections, will report later as we take the Maine Eastern later this week on that great excursion.  I'm hoping that they have added a dome car so we can truly see the waterways.

Cheers, Richard

Comment by steve lang on August 19, 2014 at 3:19pm

go chek out Oregon. I don't think theyv evr abandond a railroad xcept mayb part uv the 2 that ran/run along a stretch uv the mayn N/S rivr in bout the middl uv the st8. portlnd iz awsum.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on July 15, 2014 at 1:18pm


Thx for posting the link to that great video.  Gives me a good idea of what to expect this summer.

That RoW looks to be in excellent condition, or was at least in 2008.  Must be expensive to maintain though with all of that water nearby.

Comment by Andrew F. Laverdiere on July 14, 2014 at 8:48pm

Catch the view from the cab, courtesy of my friend Zach. It's just an excursion train, so trips are limited. If you can combine Amtrak and MERR somehow, that would be a pretty nice combination of modern and old style rail transportation.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on July 14, 2014 at 7:14pm

What's the condition of the Maine Eastern passenger service?  Looks pretty twisty to me although that could be a good thing.

Comment by Andrew F. Laverdiere on July 14, 2014 at 5:19pm

If you take Amtrak from Boston, you'll only get as far as Brunswick.  Construction and upgrading is still ongoing, so expect delay's.

From Brunswick, you can then catch the Maine Eastern RR, which will get you as far as Rockland.

The rest of the way you'll have to get there by car. There hasn't been rail passenger service in the state since the Maine Central RR discontinued that in 1960.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on July 14, 2014 at 1:34pm

What is the condition of the RoW for the Amtrak line?  I was thinking of taking it later this summer when we are going to Bar Harbor. 

Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Andrew F. Laverdiere on July 1, 2014 at 8:11pm

You're right of course Chad. There are official yards in Waterville, South Portland, and Milo with shops, turntables, and so forth. From on the ground, the abandoned sidings in Pittsfield had the feeling of a formerly busy area. The worst part was examining the 'main' line. In general, spikes were raised an inch or two, and ties were in poor shape. Among my friends there, Mellon is a derogatory word.

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