Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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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 Jordan on October 13, 2016 at 6:32pm

I wouldn't call it decay. The Central Maine and Quebec has really turned things around on a lot of the lines they took over, with freight car loadings on the rise. This can especially be said of the former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic the CMQ has acquired. The CMQ is a sister company of Florida East Coast, so they know what they're doing. While it's true that the CMQ has no interest in passenger operations, that doesn't mean things will "decay". Freight is what pays the bills.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on October 12, 2016 at 10:26pm


Just returned from a 2 week tour of New England with a week in Maine but saddened for the loss of the Maine Eastern.  Went to Brunswick only to find that the Maine Eastern which we have promised our 5 year old grandson that we would take him to ride, is no more.

Seems the State of Maine put up the state owned RoW to bid and another operator Central Maine & Quebec) outbid the MERR.  But that operator has ceased passenger operations and the state refused to subsidize continued passenger operations for the ME.  

With Amtrak continuing to provide passenger service from Boston thru Portland and up to Brunswick, ME passenger service further north would seemed to have been a critical element in support of tourism to the economically suffering cities served by the ME.  

But I am now convinced that you are correct in writing that rail service and indeed foresight in your "old state are in a state of general decay".



Comment by Andrew F. Laverdiere on December 26, 2014 at 2:13pm

I just got back from a week in Maine, mostly spending time with my family and looking for New Deal projects.

The MERR is doing fine, since its a year round short line freight subsidiary of the Morristown & Erie Railway, with the excursion section you tried it's summer bread and butter.

The port project is underway in Portland. When I was driving through to be dropped off at my sisters place in Scarborough, you could see a lot of construction work in taking up old rails and preparing the ground.

In general, things are going badly with the depression causing the closing of a number of paper mills, and calls for abandoning most of the rail lines in the north.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on December 26, 2014 at 12:28am


Any news re: Maine to pass along to us rail fans?  I know that after I left there was some talk about Portland becoming a major shipping destination port for Europe just as Oakland, Calif. has become same for China and Asia.

I do trust that the Maine Eastern had a successful year as my 4 year old grandson has told me, after seeing my videos, that he wants to ride the ME.  Amazing how these young kids love our trains.

Merry Christmas and send me a lobster.


Comment by Andrew F. Laverdiere on October 15, 2014 at 9:45pm

Well! That's a good bit of news. There's just not enough economic activity happening in Northern Maine to keep the infrastructure up to snuff. The Bangor and Aroostook RR largely depended on pulpwood and potatoes as their main source of revenue until the Penn Central destroyed most of one years crop when the BAR reefers got "lost" in one of their yards and farmers largely abandoned using rail after that point.

What the MERR is using is former Maine Central ROW. The rest is owned by Guilford/Pan Am RY

Aroostook County is the very large county that covers most of northern Maine.

Come to think of it, the Canadian Pacific also has a line that traverses the state up in the northern areas from east to west. There was a huge accident on their line recently when some oil tankers got loose, derailed and exploded.

My sister used to be married to one of the Cyr boys, which is one of the prominent families up north, but no, I don't know anyone. They're going to need everything they can get though. That's a lot of rail to fix.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on October 15, 2014 at 4:49pm


I see that Maine received a major TIGER funding ($10.5M) for an area called "Aroostook" in northern Maine which is identified as providing restoration of 230 miles of rail in the northern part of the state.

Having just seen their rail lines in the south going only as far as Brunswick, I fail to understand how this connects unless the Maine Eastern is a part of the line.  Do you know?

Just in case you know anyone up there, if they could spare $750K of that amount, the NWP could sure use it to get up to Alexander Valley :-).


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.

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