State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

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State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:08 pm

For some time I have had the opportunity to discuss the State of Maine and The Gull in various threads across these forums but never had a single thread in any forum that would accommodate sole discussion of these two particularly significant trains for the B&M and the MEC. To the best of my ability to tell these two trains were the only long distance service running as a full train over the MEC and B&M that operated year round over both roads and as separate trains (excludes BAR through sleepers for the Aroostook Flyer and the Potatoland Special). Any corrections to this perception would be appreciated.

Regardless, this status, likely not shared by any others, seems very significant to the history of both the MEC and the B&M and, at least in my eyes, makes these trains worthy of their own dedicated thread. Here are the standard resources that I am aware of for each respective train:

State of Maine

1. Mr. VanBokkelen's Website

2. Wikipedia Entry

3. Railroad.net Thread: NH Maine Passenger Service (with B&M/MEC/PRR/NYC), NH Forum

4. Railroad.net Thread: New Haven Through Trains - 1943, NH Forum

5. Railroad.net Thread: Passenger service along the Norwich & lower Palmer lines, New England Forum

6. Passenger Trains, Boston & Maine/Maine Central Forum

7. State of Maine Sleeper Car Menu Discussion Thread, Yahoo Groups (BM_RR Group)

8. Train Orders Thread, Pine Tree State Pullman Sleeper Car from NH State of Maine Service

9. Photos of Pine Tree State Sleeper Car

10. Passenger Car Photo Index (NH) Multiple photos of Pine Tree State

11. MEC 1931 Timetable

The Gull

1. Mr. VanBokkelen's Website

2. Wikipedia Entry

3. Streamliner Schedules, The Gull

4. Railroad.net Thread: Passenger service along the Norwich & lower Palmer lines, New England Forum

5. Passenger Trains, Boston & Maine/Maine Central Forum

6. Railroad.net Thread: Boston & Maine in the Four Seasons, Boston & Maine/Maine Central Forum

7. Railroad.net Thread: Sleeping Cars From North Station, New England Forum

8. MEC 1931 Timetable

9. Photo of MEC 1930 Timetable with "The Gull" Graphic

I will add to this list (with moderator assistance) as permitted.

One of the more delightful discoveries of initiating this thread was discovering the NH Sleeper (6BDR)-Buffet-Lounge Pine Tree State in preserved status at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Frankly I was really shocked as so few streamlined passenger cars of any kind that ever served on the MEC in any capacity are still in existence today. To find a car that had served on the State of Maine, and was bought precisely for such service was all that much more impressive. Pine Tree State also holds the very notable distinction of being the last car bought by the NH to still be certified for interchange via Class I railroads.

As one can see from the list, it seems that The Gull was probably the lesser known of the two trains. In fact due to its departure point from North Station and terminal destination (Halifax, NS) towards the end The Gull may have been downright obscure.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:19 pm

I am a little curious if perhaps one other train that should be included or discussed as part of this thread would be the Red Wing. I am wondering if the cars that went through St. Johnsbury did so via the Mountain Division (and thus were another B&M/MEC interline train). Clarification would be appreciated. I would also like to know if the Red Wing originated from Boston North Station (I'm assuming it probably did). It seems likely that most, if not all, of B&M's Canada service originated at North Station. While this seems natural "of course" to those who were there, its easy to forget that South Station and North Station were run by competing railroads when Amtrak is the only American passenger railroad you've ever known.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby ThinkNarrow » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:05 pm

gokeefe wrote:I am a little curious if perhaps one other train that should be included or discussed as part of this thread would be the Red Wing.

According to my 1932 B&M timetable, the Red Wing left North Station at 9:00 PM, stopping at Lowell, Nashua, Manchester, and Plymouth, arriving at Woodsville at 1:45 AM. It continued at 2:00 AM, stopping at St. Johnsbury before arriving at Newport VT at 4:10 AM. The Red Wing departed Newport at 4:20, arriving in Montreal at 7:30 AM, while a connecting train left Newport at 5:35 AM, arriving in Quebec City at 1:00 PM.

The Red Wing was always significant to me because back in the old days, the North Station waiting room had benches with train names on them. Our family agree that if separated, we would meet on the Red Wing bench.

-John
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:57 pm

gokeefe wrote:It seems likely that most, if not all, of B&M's Canada service originated at North Station. While this seems natural "of course" to those who were there, its easy to forget that South Station and North Station were run by competing railroads when Amtrak is the only American passenger railroad you've ever known.

All service to Canada from Boston originated at North Station, yes. One line to the Maritimes via Maine Central. Three lines to Montréal (and Québec City): (1) via Concord-Plymouth-Wells River and the CP through St. Johnsbury, (2) via Concord-White River Junction and CV-CN through St. Albans, and (3) via Fitchburg-Keene-Bellows Falls and the Rutland through Burlington.

Don't forget, however, that through trains from New York to Montréal also operated over the B&M's other trunk line, the Conn River, from Springfield to White River Junction (CV-CN) and Wells River (CP).

There was no through service to Canada from South Station, on either the New Haven or the B&A (New York Central).

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby b&m 1566 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:31 am

Did the State of Maine originate out of New York city? I remember read something a while back that the train use to use the WN&P branch before the B&M abandoned the middle section of the branch.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:37 am

b&m 1566 wrote:Did the State of Maine originate out of New York city? I remember read something a while back that the train use to use the WN&P branch before the B&M abandoned the middle section of the branch.


The following is a combination of excerpts from the "NH Maine Passenger Service" thread in the NH forum:

gokeefe wrote:The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society has an excellent document, written by a Christopher T. Baer (September 8, 2009 ed.), titled "NAMED TRAINS OF THE PRR INCLUDING THROUGH SERVICES" with what appears to be nearly definitive accounts of both the Bar Harbor Express and East Wind. Mr. Baer also discusses several lesser known trains, to include the original Down Easter (The Down Easter), and a completely obscure named train Waterville Express he also provides an interesting PRR history for the State of Maine.

STATE OF MAINE EXPRESS:
Est. 3/2/1913 from PORTLAND EXPRESS; Grand Central to Bangor and Rockland, Me.; in
3/23/25 is #93-94 GCT-Rockland; first established on PRR 9/29/1929 as #111-142, Washington
to New Haven, with through cars to Portland and Concord, N.H. via New London; combined with
MONTREALER/WASHINGTONIAN south of New Haven as #168/124-125/169 9/28/1930;
restored as separate train #111-142 4/26/1931; #142 (also 111?) discontinued eff. 9/27/1931;
#111 discontinued (after 7/12/36?); NB #111 is LEGISLATOR after 12/12/32 so only through
cars!; continues from Grand Central as #124-125 (eff. when?); last trip 10/29/1960. name at end
was STATE OF MAINE, via Worcester.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby b&m 1566 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:55 am

Via Worcester - so it is likely the train(s) did infact use WN&P branch and later rerouted via Lowell, Lawrence.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:16 am

b&m 1566 wrote:Via Worcester - so it is likely the train(s) did infact use WN&P branch and later rerouted via Lowell, Lawrence.


Here is some dialogue from the "NH Maine Passenger Service" thread that should answer the above question:

eastwind wrote:
gokeefe wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote:
I think if through passenger service between New York and Portland ever is restored it will be via Worcester which is probably the post practical remaining route. It could operate via the Norwich Branch or via Providence, both routes are operated by the Providence and Worcester and I think either route would be practical. If push came to shove I think the Norwich Branch would probably be the better of the two as it is much shorter and it is in decent condition.
Noel Weaver


Noel,

What was the timetable speed in that era for passenger trains on those branches?

According to New Haven Railroad ETT No. 177 (April 26, 1953):

Maximum speed on the Shore Line between Old Saybrook and Stonington, which included the New London-Groton (1.43 miles) segment, was 70 mph, with speed restrictions on the New London curves and over the bridge.
MAS Groton-Worcester (70.88 miles) was 50 mph, with a speed restriction of 35mph at Shetucket.
Total miles New London-Worcester via Norwich and Putnam: 72.31.

MAS Stonington-Readville, which included the Providence-Boston Switch segment (4.90 miles) was 75 mph. [On today's NEC, it is, for the most part, 125mph.]
MAS Boston Switch-South Worcester (37.47 miles) was 60 mph.
Mileage between Worcester and Providence was 43.29 and between Providence and New London was 62.25. Total miles New London-Worcester via Blackstone, Providence and the Shore Line: 105.54.

Although the route via Norwich was 33.23 miles shorter than the route via Providence, it had a lower Maximum Allowable Speed. The running times Worcester-New London were nearly the same: 1h51m for "Shoreliners" (RDCs) making 6 intermediate stops via Norwich, versus 2h25m for the State of Maine making one intermediate stop of 10m at Providence—thus 2h15m, a difference of only 24m. And remember, we are comparing speedy RDCs on a day run versus a heavy sleeping car train on a night run.

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:22 am

gokeefe wrote:I am a little curious if perhaps one other train that should be included or discussed as part of this thread would be the Red Wing. I am wondering if the cars that went through St. Johnsbury did so via the Mountain Division (and thus were another B&M/MEC interline train). Clarification would be appreciated. I would also like to know if the Red Wing originated from Boston North Station (I'm assuming it probably did). It seems likely that most, if not all, of B&M's Canada service originated at North Station. While this seems natural "of course" to those who were there, its easy to forget that South Station and North Station were run by competing railroads when Amtrak is the only American passenger railroad you've ever known.

As others have noted, the Red Wing is an interesting train in its own right, and it did originate in North Station. But if this thread is for B&M/MEC service, then it should probably not be included for the simple fact that it did not run over MEC rails at any time.

The Maine Central did operate a train over the Mountain to St. Johnsbury, where it terminated. Passengers could connect there with Canadian Pacific to Montréal; I don't think there were ever through cars. But this train originated in Portland and did not involve the B&M.

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:51 am

b&m 1566 wrote:Did the State of Maine originate out of New York city? I remember read something a while back that the train use to use the WN&P branch before the B&M abandoned the middle section of the branch.

To the best of my knowledge, the State of Maine always originated in Grand Central Terminal in New York.

As for your second question-comment, this post from edbear in the NH Maine Passenger Service (with B&M/MEC/PRR/NYC) thread sheds some light:
edbear wrote:Prior to consolidating all of its timetables into a single system folder about 1918, the B & M issued lots of divisional, suburban and through timetables. The Condensed Through Timetable covered some of the longer runs and touristy-vacationer runs on the B & M only and its connections to lots of off-line destinations. In Form ADV35, September 7, 1903, the New York to Maine service right to Mt. Desert Island runs New York to Springfield via New Haven, Boston & Albany to Worcester and Boston & Maine to Portland via Nashua Union Sta. and Rochester. In Form35, June 26, 1911, the same routing via Springfield and B & A to Worcester is shown; B & M routing from Ayer is over to Lowell, Lawrence and Portland. The train has an 8 pm New York departure time in both schedules (no Daylight Time then).

You are correct. From at least 1903 to some time prior to 1911, through service from New York to Maine ran via the WN&P via Nashua, rather than via Lowell as it did in later years right up to the last run of the State of Maine in 1960. Through trains from Washington and Philadelphia via the PRR were not possible until the completion of the Hell Gate Bridge in 1917.

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:53 pm

Edbear's post in the New Haven Through Trains - 1943 thread gives some very interesting detail about the operation of the State of Maine during the war years. Here is his post in full:

edbear wrote:During World War II, the Office of Defense Transportation, which regulated all modes of transportation, restricted the operation of seasonal trains to resort and vacation areas. So, for the 1943-45 era anyway, there were no Bar Harbor, East Wind, Downeaster, North Wind, Night White Mountains and other seasonal trains on the New Haven to points in Northern New England. I don't know if it was 1943 or 1944, but the State of Maine consist was quickly turned at each end of its run (New York and Portland) and ran as the Day Express with the Pullmans set up for day service. The New Haven and Boston & Maine were to be commended for their efficiency because a there was a huge rise in passenger traffic during this time and crossing Boston with duffel bags or luggage or kids on a crowded subway was not an easy or pleasant task. However, the Office of Defense Transportation ordered the Day Express withdrawn to save on crews and fuel and to keep the lines open for priority moves, troop trains and military goods. I seem to think that Cape Cod service, though highly seasonal, did expand greatly during those summers, probably because people would have gone there anyway and overwhelmed the regular schedules. In the summer of 1945, extending into 1946, the ODT ordered all sleeping car runs of under 250 miles, later changed to 450 miles withdrawn and put into troop service. WWII ended in Europe on May 8, 1945. Some railroads discontinued their overnight flyers outright, but the resourceful NYNH & H converted its all-Pullman OWL to an overnight all parlor OWL. The consists seem to indicate the OWLS may have used MERCHANTS or YANKEE CLIPPER equipment. Unlike the regular OWLS, these consists had lounge cars that opened at 9 pm so that by the time Nos. 1 & 2 began to roll, the passengers were probably all tanked up. After all, the War was over in Europe and there was quite a bit of euphoria on the home front. The New Haven thought it wise to segregate its OWL passengers into MEN and WOMEN cars (it was almost all men). After all, except for an enclosed drawing room on some of the parlors, most of them just had the swivel chairs. And many of the tanked up guys, when they eventually settled down, probably slept in their skivvies or less. Attendants met the passengers at Grand Central, South Station and Providence and escorted them to facilities where they could shower, bathe and change clothes. I don't think there was much seasonal service in 1946, using Pullmans, because there were still a lot of military moves going on.

I knew none of this. Timetables and Official Guides from the war years are almost impossible to come by. Thank you, sir, for the info.

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:10 am

I find it interesting how easy it is to have a discussion about the State of Maine but The Gull really remains relatively obscure despite this train being very prominent in service on both the B&M and the MEC.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:51 pm

gokeefe wrote:The Gull really remains relatively obscure despite this train being very prominent in service on both the B&M and the MEC.

I can think of a couple of reasons.

The Gull left Boston at or around 9:30pm and ran through most of Maine in the dead of night. This probably also accounts for the relatively few photographs of this train. Even now, with better film and equipment, night shots are far outnumbered by day shots. We have lots of pictures of the Lake Shore Limited along the Hudson, but how many of it passing through Buffalo or Cleveland?

• It made very few stops leaving North Station: Portland, Lewiston, Waterville, Bangor. That's all. And all of these stops were "to receive revenue passengers for points beyond Bangor" only. Because of this,

• It was not available for local travel between Boston and anywhere in Maine south of Old Town. And even the Old Town stop was "to discharge passengers from Portland and west" [i.e., Portland and Boston. Period.]. Between there and Vanceboro, the stops were Lincoln, Mattawamkeag, Danforth, and Forest. No huge crowds on or off here. The bulk of passengers heading to Maine out of North Station were destined to the more populous, southern part of the state. The Gull was irrelevant to their travel needs; it was easy to ignore. Kind of like the commuters in South Station today; how many of them stop to take notice of #449, the only train in South Station with a sleeping car, heading out in all its glory? And that one leaves during daylight.

This was a train designed for through traffic to the Maritimes, and such traffic must have been substantial because right up to the end the train carried a through sleeper to Saint John—two, except for the very last years—plus in earlier years a through sleeper to Halifax. It went through Maine but it did not serve Maine passengers much. Out of sight, out of mind.

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby edbear » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:45 pm

The Gull had significant competition prior to World War II in the form of Eastern Steamship Lines Boston-Yarmouth service, about 16 hours. From Yarmouth you utilized Dominion Atlantic's summer only "boat train" and you'd be in Halifax about the same time as the Gull. In pre-air conditioned days, that sail across the Gulf on Maine must have been quite refreshing. Besides that, customs inspections were probably conducted at a decent hour and there were no engine changes from one carrier to the next, some of which were in the wee hours. Eastern's two vessels built for the service did World War II duty and were returned to Eastern. The service did not boom after World War II. During the War, Congressional legislation was passed that mandated crews on commercial vessels under U. S. registration have the same accomodations as were provided to swabbies in the U. S. Navy. Deckhands and laborers had primitive conditions until then. Eastern could not afford to run two vessels under those conditions so only had one on the run and therefore couldn't sail daily. Eventually Eastern registered its vessels under third world flags. The Eastern service lasted until 1954 with a Nova Scotia government subsidy until the Bluenose entered service from Bar Harbor. The Eastern steamer for Halfax sailed from Boston about 5 or 6 p. m.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby edbear » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:46 pm

I should have said sailed for Yarmouth from Boston at 5 or 6 p. m.
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