The Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division

Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

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Mountain division status

Postby BM6569 » Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:02 pm

Does anyone know what the status of this line is. I rode on the 470 RR clubs trip on the conway senic railroad. We took the Quarry branch (Mountain division to Portland) to redstone. Has there been talks about expanding farther east on that line. I heard that the state of NH purchased the trackage to the Maine border (possible expansion?). Is this in fact true? Also, has part of line coverted to a walking trail towards the Portland side?

Has there been any talks of expanding the line south of Conway?
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re;Mountain Division

Postby wolfmom69 » Wed Oct 27, 2004 3:14 pm

As far as I know,Guilford owns the tracks from the end of the active track(not too damn active!!) in Westbrook(Cumberland Mills) to the Route 202 crossing in S. Windham. From there,to the Maine/N.H. border in Fryeburg,the State of Maine owns it,and have cut brush(and small trees!) the past few summers,and "speeder"trips have run the tracks in the Baldwin-Steep falls-Hiram area. Guilford has nearly always kept a segment of ANY line they have abandoned and sold to a state so as to control the connections/competition. GRS claims,that the S. Windham area "might develop rail customers again"(there were 3 consignees in that area when the Mt. Div. shut down in Sept. 83',and GRS ran a local,even to N.Conway(propane) on an "irregular basis" for a couple of years afterwards.). A RAIL TRAIL,was built ALONGSIDE the tracks from Rt. 202 to I believe the White Rock area of Gorham,with plans to extend it to Sebago Lake Station soon. So,tracks & ROW remain,with a walking and bike trail,and snowmobile use(?) LEGALLY in the winter. Price tag for the "recreational trail",5 to 7 miles,I think,was in excess of a million$$$. Hope this helps a little. Bud
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re: Mountain Division

Postby BM6569 » Wed Oct 27, 2004 9:48 pm

Thanks for the info. Are the tracks ripped up anywhere along the line?
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Postby MEC407 » Wed Oct 27, 2004 11:22 pm

The tracks are still intact in Maine. Not sure about NH and VT.
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Postby MountainFan » Tue Nov 16, 2004 2:18 pm

The Mountain Division is surprisingly intact. As previously stated, the State of Maine periodically clears brush. I believe that there may be a couple of washouts. Studies have been done with on-line shippers, and I personally wouldn't be surprised to see the Eastern end of the line reactivated sometime this decade. That's pure speculation, though.

-Rob (new to the forum)
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Mountain Division Shippers

Postby MountainFan » Tue Nov 16, 2004 2:21 pm

Hi,
I'm rather new to this forum, and have been a lifelong advocate of reactivating the MEC Mountain Division Line. Does anyone on this board remember which industries used the line between Westbrook and North Conway, and if they still exist? This information would be greatly helpful for a study I am currently conducting.

-Rob in Portland
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Postby MEC407 » Tue Nov 16, 2004 3:34 pm

This past spring, myself and a few other railroaders went on a speeder trip on the Mountain Division. I was mostly just along for the ride, but we did do quite a bit of serious work -- clearing brush, dismantling a beaver dam, etc. We ran on the section of the line between Sebago Lake and West Baldwin. I'm trying to remember some of the industries that had sidings... unfortunately I'm not coming up with any names, but I think there was an apple packing plant, a seed/feed distributor, a big sand & gravel operation, and what might have been some sort of team track or public access siding.
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Postby MEC407 » Tue Nov 16, 2004 3:40 pm

I think I also remember seeing a propane distributor somewhere on or very near the line. And there are certainly plenty of potential customers (or FORMER customers) on the Guilford-owned section between Portland and Westbrook.
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Re; Mountain Division Consignees

Postby wolfmom69 » Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:46 pm

Ok;lets go on a train trip,circa 1965,or so. The Mt. Div. to Westbrook,was Portland Terminal territory,so at S. Windham,we had a steel fabricator in part of the old pulp mill there,Blue Seal Feeds,and LC Andrew Lumber Co. Next,at Gambo Rd. was the Petrolane Propane facility,(was still there)and another steel facility. A team track,double ended was at Sebago Lake Station. Next stop was at Steep Falls,where there is a big Agway Feed mill still standing. West Baldwin had a Beals Furniture factory,and then I think it became a woodenware,or was a wall board mill(think it is partly used as a warehouse). There is a large apple warehouse in Cornish,but off the rail line,but a fuel distributor(Texaco) got mostly boxcars of lubricants at Cornish Station. In years past,the woolen mill, off line,in Kezar Falls part of Cornish,shipped and received at Cornish Station.There is also Chase Siding between E .& W. Baldwin that pulp was often loaded on this team track. Do not recall any consignees that late in Hiram,but Fryeburg had a variety. Gulf shipped "product"in 10,000 gal WRNX tanks to a jobber there,the quarry was in operation,and there was also an active lumber mill. A rare hopper of coal, to Gibsons in N.Conway,and there is a propane dealer there that used rail also. I'm sure that there were more,but by 1970,it was RARE for MEC to run an extra to N.Conway and back from Rigby to handle these local consignees,as the RY & YR through freights could handle these few active customers. Bud :-D
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Postby MountainFan » Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:27 pm

Thanks for this wealth of information! A few of those industries still exist, as well as many empty buildings. There are some new on-line customers, too, who have the potential to ship quite a bit. I drove up the line today to interview some of them, and state crews were doing extensive brush cutting around Hiram. It seems to simply be a matter of when the state/private industries can get funding, because relatively minimal work needs to be done.

-Rob
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Postby MEC407 » Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:27 pm

MountainFan wrote:It seems to simply be a matter of when the state/private industries can get funding, because relatively minimal work needs to be done.

-Rob


Not to be the voice of negativity, but I think the work that needs to be done is more than what I would consider minimal. On the state-owned section of the line, at least 50% of the ties would need to be replaced, and it needs a lot of new ballast. The existing stick rail, with some work, is probably suitable for a 10 MPH freight operation. Heavier rail, as well as substantial bridge and culvert work, would be needed for faster speeds and/or the newer 286,000lb freight cars. And then there is the issue of the crossings. Some of them have been paved over, while others are completely non-existant (rails removed). Those issues would need to be fixed. The crossing signals (where applicable) would need to be repaired and turned back on, unless the operator of the line doesn't mind stopping and flagging each crossing... although that can be pretty dangerous in itself. Some of the roads/highways crossed by the Mountain Division are very busy, and the drivers who are on those roads every day haven't seen a train in 20+ years.

You're right, though... it is mostly a matter of funding. Exactly how much funding is needed is debatable, and where that funding will come from is another issue entirely.

I have no doubt that a lot of people in Maine would love to see the Mountain Division active again, and not just railfans. My only concern is that I remember how incredibly difficult it was to get funding for the Boston-Portland track upgrade, which was certainly a much higher priority than the Mountain Division.
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Postby bwparker1 » Wed Nov 17, 2004 9:27 pm

MEC407 wrote:I think I also remember seeing a propane distributor somewhere on or very near the line. And there are certainly plenty of potential customers (or FORMER customers) on the Guilford-owned section between Portland and Westbrook.


What customers are on the portion between Portland and Westbrook that could recieve or ship by rail but currently don't? I am aware of the Blue Rock Gravel operation. What else could go back to rail?

Brooks
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Postby wolfmom69 » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:59 pm

Hard to believe,Brooks,since you left Maine,but a glass recycling facility(NexCycle) off Rand Rd. adjacent to Forest City Chevy, in Portland,is shipping many of the old BM coal hoppers out loaded with crushed glass(they also ship by truck)and actually move more cars,some weeks than the SAPPI mill. SAPPI tried(again) to ship a few cars of finished paper,but they weren't satisfied,so only a few cars of clay and starch go to the mill. Dead River has an active LPG facility just off Larabee Rd. in back of Lee Auto. You prpobably know that the Southern Container mill,of the by pass ,is torn down & Shop/Save store there. They were the biggest consignee. W.N. &P. 'stub' to this mill has been deactivated,crossing repaved. Switcher 7 or 8 make about 2-3 trips a week. Blue Rock,after NOT using rail for years,has been loading "ballast in side dumps & MOW hoppers for Guilford. One warehouse in Thompsons Point ,along with LPG in Thompsons Point across from Amtrk. Station-thats it! Bud :(
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Postby MountainFan » Thu Nov 18, 2004 9:42 am

Well, my definition of "minimal" work is a relative term- it would be much easier to restore this line than, say, the Conway branch north of Ossipee. The crossings that have been paved over can simpy be jackhammered- Conway Scenic did this with their portion when it was reopened in the mid-90's. The only crossing I know of where rails have been physically removed is in Westbrook, although I'm sure there could be more. I figure that if the CSRR can restore their portion of the Mountain (which had boulders in the ROW, washouts, etc) with nothing but private money, the state ought to be able to find the funds to rebuild the mountain division.

As for state funding, it's definitely on the radar. Maine just paid untold millions to rebuild the Rockland line with CWR- restoring the Mountain to Class I/Class II standards would be relatively cheap. The state will need to be convinced that using the line would save local roads, thus we need to find at least fifty carloads per mile, per year. So far it looks like this is possible.
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Postby bwparker1 » Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:47 am

Image

Bud, Here is a shot that I took of the Nexcycle facilty you talk of when I lved in maine and worked near Westbrook Ave.
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