Maine Narrow Gauge Museum Discussion

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

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

Maine Narrow Gauge Museum Discussion

Postby Cowford » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:25 pm

While visiting Portland over the holiday weekend, I had to stick my head into the MGN museum for a few. I had heard rumors as to its mismanagement. If my experience is typical, the rumors are true. We entered the museum around 230p and apparently they planned to shut at 3p to prepare for the Polar Express. We were greeted by a young female employee lambasting a poor woman with her young child. She said when offered the admission fee (and I am not exaggerating), "I've already closed the register. I suppose I'll have to hold the money for tomorrow." (grunt, groan) and, when asked if they could hang out for a while and play with the toy train... "So you expect me to wait around here just for you?" (More grunts and groans). She then looked at us annoyingly and, in so many words said in equal tone, "what do you want?" I told her that we'd only be 15-20 mins and I handed her $4 before she could say anything. We were absolutely appalled at her rudeness. And she later treated a telephone inquiry the same way.

Housekeeping is also not on the list of priorities. The old converted inspection vehicle and railbus were covered, inside and out, with sawdust, apparently from a restoration project with an open-air car. And regarding the displays... with a little more thought and not much more money, the place could provide a much better experience.

What a dump: close the place and transfer the rolling stock to the WW&F Railway Museum. By all accounts, they "get it."
Cowford
 
Posts: 2667
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 12:34 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby bubbytrains » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:40 pm

The WW&F Railway and Museum is a complete contrast to that. My visit this year was delightful. They are very professional and welcoming. I give them my highest recommendation. I just wish I lived closer!

-Alan S.
bubbytrains
 
Posts: 111
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:34 am

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby 3rdrail » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:02 pm

I also have heard negative comments regarding the Portland "museum", but since I didn't see it myself I won't spread it, however I will say that it involved parties and abuse of equipment. As a Bostonian, I say bring back Edaville with the people that ran it before and were into trains and send the cars and locos back down there. I also enjoy WW&F, but the ride around the cranberry bog at night at Christmastime can't be beat (even though I understand that it has been shortened - guess it wasn't cost effective.) As an aside, I would write a letter to the mayor in Portland explaining your experience and how disappointing it was. Include dates.
~Paul Joyce~
[i]Moderator: Toy Trains, Model Railroading, Outdoor and Live Steam

Paul Joyce passed away in August, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion at railroad.net.
User avatar
3rdrail
 
Posts: 5641
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:10 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby ThinkNarrow » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:30 am

(3rdRail)As an aside, I would write a letter to the mayor in Portland explaining your experience and how disappointing it was. Include dates.

I agree, but would substitute "Ms. Susan Davis, Executive Director, Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum, 58 Fore Street, Portland ME 04101" for "mayor in Portland". I don't think there is any reason for the city to be involved. Plainly the museum has the wrong person dealing with the public, and Ms. Davis may be able to do something about that.
ThinkNarrow
 
Posts: 288
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:01 pm
Location: Maynard, MA

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby 3rdrail » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:59 am

ThinkNarrow wrote: I don't think there is any reason for the city to be involved.


I think that the mayor and Ms. Davis may be a good idea. I don't know Ms. Davis, have never met her, and don't know what kind of a ship that she runs - tight or otherwise. (With a small operation like the museum, are we sure that the subject of the poster's complaint was not Ms. Davis herself ?) I do know that I have heard consistant negative stories over a period of many years about this operation which may be indicative of her leadership. I'm also aware that Portland is a city which fervantly encourages tourism, partly due to a below average sluggish state economy and wages which are substantially lower than most of southern New England, among other things. Anything that discourages tourism will have a guaranteed interest by the political forces that be up there, and regardless of Ms. Davis' sincerity, a little pressure from City Hall could not be a bad thing in this instance. The museum's ROW is not a former ROW, but one that was constructed for the museum's equipment. I would not be surprised if the ROW is owned, in full or partly, by the city itself. Political pressure on the museum may have the clout needed to rectify this problem, if one exists.
~Paul Joyce~
[i]Moderator: Toy Trains, Model Railroading, Outdoor and Live Steam

Paul Joyce passed away in August, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion at railroad.net.
User avatar
3rdrail
 
Posts: 5641
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:10 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby b&m 1566 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:45 am

If you are talking about the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad at the Portland water front, than you are incorrect. That is a former ROW which was converted into a narrow gauge railroad in the early 90's. The track was once part of the Grand Trunk which use to connect with the Portland Terminal near Commercial Street. Service was terminated when the bridge spanning the Back Cove was severely damaged from a fire sometime in the mid to late 80's.
If there is another narrow gauge somewhere in Portland that I’m not aware off then my comment is nullified.
b&m 1566
 
Posts: 2842
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 2:09 am
Location: Hudson, NH

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby 3rdrail » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:23 am

b&m 1566 wrote:If you are talking about the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad at the Portland water front, than you are incorrect. That is a former ROW which was converted into a narrow gauge railroad in the early 90's. The track was once part of the Grand Trunk which use to connect with the Portland Terminal near Commercial Street. Service was terminated when the bridge spanning the Back Cove was severely damaged from a fire sometime in the mid to late 80's.
If there is another narrow gauge somewhere in Portland that I’m not aware off then my comment is nullified.


I don't believe that Grand Trunk or any of it's successors (Canadian National) has any tie with the MNGRR, so that property either reverted to the city or was sold to the MNGRR. I think that there is a MNGRR ROW that swings out easterly into the Eastern Promenade, coming through at the base of Cutter Street. I know that no narrow gauge ROW physically existed in the area at the time of the MNGRR's inception. That whole area around Cutter Street is city property, and if the museum is running into that area it must be by agreement by the city. If, as you state, I am incorrect in believing that the city may own in part or whole, a section of the MNGRR ROW, kindly inform me as to who the owner(s) are. Additionally, assuming that the city or state would regulate all transportation on the museum's line of which the public is invited in spite of whether the ROW enters on private or public property, it would stand to reason that the city/state would have a level of control over the MNGRR irregardless.
~Paul Joyce~
[i]Moderator: Toy Trains, Model Railroading, Outdoor and Live Steam

Paul Joyce passed away in August, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion at railroad.net.
User avatar
3rdrail
 
Posts: 5641
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:10 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby b&m 1566 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:58 am

I don't know who owns the ROW. All I know is that in the early 90's, they regauged an old standard gauge ROW to the 2 foot gauge we see today. Before 1993 there was no narrow gauge ROW just an abandoned standard gauge ROW that connected to the Portland Terminal/Guilford at Commercial Street.
By the time MNGRR game around, some of the rail between the Back Cove Bridge and Commercial Street might have been torn up but the line fallows the same alignment the Grand Trunk had before the bridge went ablaze.
Last edited by b&m 1566 on Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
b&m 1566
 
Posts: 2842
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 2:09 am
Location: Hudson, NH

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby jcpatten » Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:06 am

The State of Maine owns the ROW that MNGRR operates on. In fact the State mandated that MNG lay their track with standard gauge ties, "just in case" the standard gauge ever returned to the waterfront. The City of Portland owns the land that the walking paths are on.

If the employee running the cash register was "young", as was reported, then it wasn't Sue Davis.
jcpatten
 
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2004 7:31 am

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby MEC407 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:45 pm

Responding to Cowford's original post:

It makes me sad (and sick to my stomach) to hear that MNGRR has changed in such a negative way. I volunteered there from 2000 to 2003, and I haven't been in the museum or on the train since late 2003. Many of the volunteers that I knew who worked there during that time period are no longer there. The woman who was the executive director at the time was unceremoniously ousted because some people apparently didn't like the way she was doing things, and I left shortly after that. They had another executive director for a while (a man, whose name I can't remember), and then he left and they got the current director, Ms. Davis, who I've never met.

The things you described would NEVER have happened back in the days when I volunteered there. The museum was always clean, the volunteers were always friendly. It was a really pleasant place to spend some time, and there was absolutely no way that anyone would have been treated the way you were treated at your recent visit. Also, the museum admission was FREE back in those days. The train tickets were a lot less expensive, too.

I'm really sorry that you had such a bad experience, and even more importantly, it breaks my heart to hear that the place has deteriorated so badly. I had actually been thinking about going back and volunteering again, but I'm definitely having second thoughts now.
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives
User avatar
MEC407
 
Posts: 10671
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby Mikejf » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:45 pm

I will echo MEC407's experience. I haven't been in quite a few years but the last time I went, I found the staff helpfull and very cheerfull. As for the equipment, some of it arrived on the property needing paint or more from Edaville. Being a new organization, I'm sure they could not affor paint or the easy cosmetic repairs until it was too late. And for the place being cluttered, It's a small area to work on things. Most repairs are done outside, in the cramped small yard.
But never fear. The management has been loaning or leasing equipment to other organizations for them to repair and maintain. In the Town of Bridgton, for example, the Flanger and Tank from car 22 now on car 14 is there. Return of the Rails is an organization trying to gain interest to return the rails to Bridgton. This is one of their first steps. Other equipment has gone to other locations in Maine.
Mike
Mikejf
 
Posts: 1481
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:46 pm
Location: Maine

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby ThinkNarrow » Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:11 pm

miketrainnut wrote: Other equipment has gone to other locations in Maine.
Mike


For example, if you have occasion to ride the beautiful old Wiscasset & Quebec 1894 coach 3 or the open air excursion car 103 at the WW&F, you are riding cars leased from the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum. Admittedly the excursion car required a lot of work, but everyone appreciates having it.

-John
ThinkNarrow
 
Posts: 288
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:01 pm
Location: Maynard, MA

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby HTBrandes » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:08 pm

Regarding Mr. Cowford's experience:

As a customer, I apologize if you were not met with a smile and treated courteously. However, as a railfan and as a courtesy, it would have been appreciated if you would have brought your concerns to our Executive Director instead of slamming us on the Internet behind our back only for us to find out about your experience through connections we have with other railroads. Yes, we all work together for the betterment of all of the railroads. We don't compete with each other or do things that make one of us look better at the expense of another. If I had an issue with my friends at WW&F, it would be discussed in person in private, not plastered across the Internet without their knowledge. The 2 foot community is a small community, we work together and respect each others efforts.

Yes, there is dust in our museum. We are a volunteer intensive organization that works in tight, rented facilities that we don't own. This is our achilles heel which fortunately WW&F does not have to worry about as they are property rich. As was mentioned in this thread, we have been very generous in the leasing and lending of our equipment to other railroads. Currently we have equipment in at WW&F, SR&RL and at Bridgton. Our mission is preservation of Maine history not just in Portland.

As for the city of Portland...don't bother to contact them. They have done nothing for us and we are not on any of their land. In fact, the have done everything possible to not have us thrive. Latest example of that is when they kicked us out of Franklin Street. We lost exposure to the public and the accompanying revenue.

It's been a tough economy, especially this year. Many volunteers at MNGRR have given countless hours to get us where are today. Are we there yet? Not necessarily, but that does not mean that we are going to give up. We have many plans in mind for 2010 and beyond. These require manpower and money. Donations and volunteer hours are always welcome as they are part of the answer.

Does WW&F get it? Of course they do. They ARE a class organization. But don't glorify them at our expense. We all work hard and give a lot so that all the two foot railroads can prosper. Discussions like this do not help any of us.

Hans Brandes
Vice President and Steam Engineer - Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad
Life Member - WW&F
HTBrandes
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri May 29, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby 3rdrail » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:17 pm

HTBrandes wrote:Discussions like this do not help any of us.

Hans Brandes
Vice President and Steam Engineer - Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad
Life Member - WW&F


Sure they do. They act as a "review" to identify to the railfan community what is likely to be an enjoyable visit and what is not. Also, any real executive worth his salt is appreciative of finding out about chinks in their armor - however it comes about. You know, or should know, who this individual is. Now, get off your duff and do something about it. (Grab a broom & dustpan in your hand while you're at it.)
~Paul Joyce~
[i]Moderator: Toy Trains, Model Railroading, Outdoor and Live Steam

Paul Joyce passed away in August, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion at railroad.net.
User avatar
3rdrail
 
Posts: 5641
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:10 pm
Location: Boston

Re: Maine Narrow Gauge experience

Postby Cowford » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:57 pm

Amen 3rdrail!

Mr Brandes: thanks for your comments. I will be including them in my letter to Ms Davis. Some of your frustrations are, I'm sure, understandable, but your tone confirms to me that the attitude we experienced is not isolated to one employee/volunteer.

Cowford
Cowford
 
Posts: 2667
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 12:34 pm
Location: Florida

Next

Return to New England Railfan

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: NHV 669 and 4 guests