• CM&Q Moosehead Subdivision and Onawa Trestle

  • Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).
Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

Moderator: MEC407

  by SP 4449
Hi guys. I recently got a chance through one of my friends to go up to the Onawa trestle on the MM&A's Moosehead sub. I'd like to find out some more information on the line as well as the history of the trestle, but there appears to be little found online. Can anyone point me to some good info? Thanks.

  by zz4
Without snooping exact where is this ??

  by ThinkNarrow
The railroad line that includes the Onawa trestle was built by the Canadian Pacific in the late 1880's and opened in 1889. According to "The Rail Lines of Northern New England," by Robert M. Lindsell (a "must-have" book from Branch Line Press), the Onawa trestle is 1200 feet long and is 130 feet above the low water mark of Ship Stream. There is another substantial trestle at Wilson Stream, but that one is nowhere near as impressive.

Unlike the Intercolonial line (later CN) that skirted the top of Northern Maine, the CPR line went directly across Maine, bound for St. John and Halifax. Being shorter than the line that skirted Maine, it was known as The Short Line. Crews ran from Megantic to Brownville Junction and Brownville Junction to McAdam, running alternately on these two assignments, as the mileage were slightly different. My grandfather was based in Brownville Junction.

Because the line crossed international boundaries, there were customs stations at the ends, one in Jackman, Maine, for example. Sleeping car doors were sealed at the borders so that sleeping car passengers need not be disturbed by customs inspectors. Their cars were treated as rolling pieces of Canada.

Returning to the subject of the trestle, there is a great story in "All Aboard for Yesterday" (Down East Books) about Axel Carlson, who was blown off the bridge in 1912, fell 77 feet onto an ant hill, and lived to tell about it for 60 years. The same article says that the orginal bridge was wood, built in 1887. This was replaced about 1896 by a steel span, which in turn was replaced by the present structure in 1931.

More than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure ;-)

  by CN9634
What is the name of the second, almost equally as large, trestle that is west of Onawa and just east of Greenville?
  by S1f3432
The two big bridges are the Wilson Stream Viaduct five miles east of Greenville and the
Ship Pond Stream Viaduct- aka Onawa trestle- another 11 miles east. Both bridges were built
in 1931 to replace earlier trestles.
  by CN9634
Great thank you for the reply! The only picture I found of the Wilson Stream Viaduct is here. Anyone know why Onawa is way more famous then the Wilson Stream Viaduct? They both appear to be of similar design and magnitude.

http://www.railwaypages.com/index.php?tmp=2&id=14&p=1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by S1f3432
Not having been to Big Wilson Stream myself, photos suggest that Onawa is more photogenic
with curves at each end and nearby higher ground to make a better vantage point. Photos at
Wilson Stream would likely have to be taken from the embankment at either end of the bridge.
Some info gleaned from "Canadian Pacific To The East", Omer Lavallee 2007: The original pre-1931
Big Wilson Stream Viaduct consisted of eight 30' deck plate-girders alternating with nine 60' deck-
lattice girders for a total of 780'. The original pre-1931 Ship Pond Stream was made up of twelve
30' deck-plate girders alternating with twelve 60' deck-lattice girders and one central 100' deck-
lattice span for a total of 1180' at a height of about 130'. These bridges resulted in engines being
restricted to G2 4-6-2's on passenger and D10 4-6-0's and M4 2-8-0's on freight- all with 15 mph
slow orders on the bridges. There is also mention of the line being laid with 80 lb. rail. Management
considered Beyer-Garratts for the line as a way of speeding things up but concluded that would only
be a delaying tactic before eventually having to replace the structures. The new bridges allowed
larger 4-6-2's along with P1 and P2 2-8-2's and elimination of the slow orders, but 4-6-4's remained
too heavy for the line.
  by doublestack
Another great CMQ video from Maine Train Chaser.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_Ec8J86-KQ" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here's the bridge location (Moose River) shown at the end of the video. It's just south of Jackman, Maine. Scroll out to view the area.
https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5973286 ... a=!3m1!1e3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;