• Searsport Branch

  • 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 necr3849
Altogether, 2011 ended up being a highly successful year with trains on the MMA Searsport branch. Personally getting over 30 #211s on the camera during the year was a milestone I never thought I'd make when 2010 ended. Sure the power variety kind of dried up by November, but a train is a train down here along the shoreline. That's especially true when it's NOT one that goes 10mph on its mainline.

2011 ended rather ominously, with the Millinocket-Searsport boxcar traffic having been really short lived. The high-cubes have been stored in Hermon for weeks now. When you have to factor weather into the equation for moving product from boxcar to ship due to no direct transfer, its's just a matter of time before it goes belly-up I guess.

New Years Day had somewhat of a milestone itself when MMA ran a 48-car Searsport job that Sunday. That's huge compared to any others I had seen since they went to the Saturday runs. Unfortunately, last week had me talking with someone that said it looks like management is thinking of putting the axe to the Saturday runs fairly soon and putting the Tuesday and Thursday runs back to nights. I'm thinking the customers down here might have something to say about that since every one other than the seasonal Lane sidings takes cars each Saturday.

Also, a second-shift switcher is going to be put at Northern Maine Junction. Not sure how many days a week that will be, but I'd assume whoever runs that will also be doing the alternating Brownville/Searsport day runs that are happening now and are supposed to go nocturnal. If all this becomes reality, I'll REALLY be glad I got out on the line as many times as I did in 2011!
  by Cowford
A 48-car train would have been respectable on that branch 30 years ago! How often is the branch served? What all are they hauling now?
  by necr3849
As of right now, the Branch is normally served three times a week(Tue-Thur-Sat) by the single NMJ engineer. He's on at 6am. Often on the Saturdays, he's down mid-morning since he'll stage his cars the Friday before. Currently, he's Mon-Sat with Wed and Fridays making trips up to Brownville.

As for hauling stuff, the trains are almost always solid tank assortment. They have Dead River in Hampden for LPG, GAC at Kidders for Sulfuric acid and an occasional tank of chlorine or ammonia. In Searsport proper is the Sprague farm where the clay slurry is loaded in the white tanks and gets shipped loaded back to Saint John, NB. Irving also has a siding down here for chemicals, but MMA will often not put the cars away because of the deteriorated siding. I guess that agreement has the tenant/customer responsible for maintaining the siding. During the warm seasons, Lane Construction ships sand out of Winterport, Prospect and Stockton Springs. They use those cool former D&H two-bay open top hoppers. Some are equipped for dumping outside the rails while others are just the normal underneath bays. Until recently as i metioned, they were shipping Millinocket paper out of Searsport until that became noticeably unfeasible. Up around Hermon, they have Maine Energy, the LMS warehouse for mostly paper, and Pine Tree Gas I think for Propane. Never see them switch there though. There is another Lane siding at the very east end of the Lower Yard that takes hoppers once in a while, too. Not bad for a yard area and branch I suppose!
  by jjoyce1
The news is not all bad on paper out of E. Millinocket, seems a lot of it is now moving inland rail-direct. Some was seen on the VTR's WACR in the last few weeks, this being MMA's preferred route to access CSXT rails. Hope this helps, thanks a lot for the detailed rundown Jeff.

  by Cowford
Dittos on the thank you... appreciate it!
  by trainsinmaine
I'm curious as to how the Searsport end of the B&A (MM&A) line was originally laid out before the development of Mack Point and the oil terminal. Bob Lord's book on Maine depots shows a photo of the Searsport depot, built in 1905 and relocated in 1936. I gather it's the same building that today stands on a knoll on Route 1 and is now a drive-in restaurant, with the railroad in its back yard. Where was it located originally? Did the line extend into the village at all? I've seen what seem to be remnants of old roadbed that veer off the present line and head in that direction.
  by AVR Mark
The only information that I know of is located here:

http://historical.mytopo.com/quad.cfm?q ... &series=15

The northwest map shows the area but unfortunately, the earlier map was made in 1902 and the later map was made in 1943.

These historical topos are very useful for many research purposes.

  by trainsinmaine
Those old online topo maps are indeed a wonderful resource, but you've pointed your finger at a problem. I've not-infrequently looked in those archives for old railroad or trolley ROWs, only to find big gaps between the years in which successive editions were printed. I've often found it very hard to trace the locations of trolley lines because of this. Many such lines were built between 1900 and 1910, only to be abandoned in the '20s or '30s.

As regards my question about the Searsport end of the BAR, I may have to go to the local Historical Society about this one.
  by arcadia terminal
I don't think the picture on you web site is of the Sears Port station the tracks are feeding the wharf from the wrong direction, it is close but the location is about 5 miles north at Stockton Springs on Cape Jellison. Thes shot is of the long wharf 1,600' that was out on Cape Jellison, the wharf actually consisted of 3 wharfs, these wharfs burned in November of 1924, ending the service to the Cape. The line to the wharf started at the "Y" which is just north of the Stockton Springs station. The "Y" is still there but is not connected to the main track and in side of the "Y" are 2 servicing pits for what looks like a 2 stall engine house, there are 24" diameter trees growing in the pit.

  by pumpers
Regarding the village question, I looked at the 1911 Sanborn insurance map, and its 1933 update, and while they both show the RR in the Mack Point area where it ends today, they don't show it ever up in the center of town (by which I mean E. Main St in the area of what is now Church or Goodell Streets) or even that far west down by the water. Usually these maps are pretty accurate.
Also, FWIW, http://www.historicaerials.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; is a good way of finding old topo maps for a certain area (also old aerial photos). It has a lot of old topos for Searsport, but ironically not the 1943 maps from the link earlier in the thread . Also funny that the RR at Mack Point does not show up yet in the 1928 topos. Maybe it is just a 1928 reprint of a much earlier map.
  by riffian
Haven't been to Searsport in several years, but satellite imagery seems to indicate not much going on there. A few white tank cars and nothing else. Is the port no longer active? What is the commodity shipped out (in?) to the tank car farm. It appears that the GAC chemical plant at Kidders may now be a larger source of traffic./ Any info appreciated.
  by CN9634
Satellite imagery is likely from MMA days... they move LPG, Acid, and Slurry to/from the port on a regular basis. Dimensional and bulk loads occasionally (Wind mill parts, construction materials, ect). Potential for more traffic includes wood/forest products and scrap metal.

They go down around 3 days a week but sometimes more.
  by riffian
Okay, thanks. Maine Ports website notes that Searsport had 84 vessel calls last year and is Maine's second largest port.
  by MEC407
Video by MaineRailFanner:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3XOYOJARjc" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 8