100 Years Ago, Today ~ September 14, 1917

Similar to the B&SR, which seems to have spent all efforts in simply operating–hauling freight and passengers–absent of expansion or changes, this site went dormant for a bit with no “new” news to report. With today’s historical reference, the railroad returns to the fall-spring period of improvements.

A pier was put in near lower Pondicherry mill on Saturday to support the track which will be laid from the mill to the railroad for the purpose of bringing coal directly to the mill.

(This article was originally published by The Bridgton NEWS on September 14, 1917.)

125 Years Ago ~ April 22, 1892

The new locomotive (engine No. 3) is a beauty, and it is no wonder that the railroad folks, yes, and not a few outsiders, are well pleased with it. It was manufactured by the Portland Company, of whose Works, Mr. James E. Greensmith, lately of the Pond Machine Tool Works, New Jersey, is general manager, and is a credit to him and his workmen. It weighs 19 tons, which is 4 tons more than either of the other two locomotives, is somewhat larger than those, and contains various improvements over them, being stronger and having sundry devices, transpositions, etc., such as have suggested themselves, through nine years’ experience, to Master Mechanic and Purchasing Agent, M. M. Caswell, of the railroad, under whose direction the engine was constructed. Among other appurtenances are a chime whistle (same as the Maine Central’s, and a spring draw bar to lessen the shock of car-coupling. This engine will be used principally for heavy work, such as drawing freight trains. The six flat cars which have been ordered for the road, are likewise to be built by the Portland Company.

(- Originally published in the Bridgton NEWS, April 22, 1892.)

125 Years Ago ~ March 18, 1892

“Clark Watson of Naples, the ornamental painter, is exercising his art upon the cars of the B. & S. R. R. R., in this place.”

(Originally published in the Bridgton NEWS March 18, 1892)

This was followed with a statement in the April 8, 1892 edition:

“All the passenger and freight cars on the Bridgton railroad are being thoroughly overhauled and renovated, including varnishing, etc.”

100 Years Ago, Today ~ March 1, 1917

Beginning Mar. 1, the mail clerk on the B. & S. R. R. closed his work on this line, as this branch of the mail service has been discontinued. This is much regretted by the people of this section. Mr. L. M. Brown, has been very efficient and popular and all regret his leaving. He will be on the Portland-Bartlett run. This service was started in 1898, when the Harrison extension was opened for traffic.

(This article was originally published by The Bridgton NEWS on March 2, 1917.)

100 Years Ago, Today ~ January 19, 1917


Bridgton & Saco River R. R. Temporarily Out of Commission. Tracks Buried Under Coating of Ice. Big Crew Pick Forty-two Miles of Ice Before Traffic is Resumed.

Bridgton awoke Monday morning to find itself practically shut off from the outside world as far as transportation and mail service was concerned. Saturday night there was a fall of several inches of snow, which completely covered the tracks of the Bridgton & Saco River R. R.  The snow was followed by a heavy rain Sunday, which converted it into slush, there being a rise in temperature from Saturday night to Sunday forenoon, of over 40 degrees. Sunday night the weather again turned to freezing temperature and the soft slush and water which in many places had buried the tracks of the railroad out of sight, was transformed into solid ice, upon which the flange digger of the road made absolutely no impression. This sealed the road for the time being as effectually as if there had been no rails present.

Sunday afternoon one of the heaviest engines of the road, No. 6, was sent out to clear the line, hauling the flange digger. At Sandy Creek the forward truck of the locomotive took the siding, which the truck following remained on the main line. This put a stop to operations in this direction, as there was no locomotive on the Junction end of the line and it was impossible to get another locomotive by No. 6. The wrecking crew worked until sometime past three Sunday morning before the big engine cold be got back on the irons. In the meantime the track in advance had been completely frozen over.

No. 3, sent over to clear the track from Bridgton to Harrison, came to grief about 10.30 Sunday night, before it had reached the Mill street crossing. At a point between Portland and Mill street, the locomotive took to the tall timber and the engineer and firemen were obliged to quickly shut off the steam valve and jump for their lives. The engine came to a halt several feet from the track, plunging into a small hollow by the side of the line and tipping partially over on to its side. It was not until Tuesday afternoon that it was back on the tracks again.

In the meantime the S. O. S. call had been sounded. It was found that the flange digger has absolutely no impression upon the ice and that the locomotive was not heavy enough to crush it, but that the ice held their weight and that the rolling stock of the road was useless. While the situation was a peculiar one, it was also of a serious nature. Passengers who had planned to leave Bridgton Monday morning and whose duties demanded their presence at the point of their destination, found themselves entirely hopeless, as far as the railroad transportation was concerned. It was impossible to get any mail out of town, nor was there any way of getting the mail and daily papers into the town. Bridgton was completely isolated and a desolate and homesick feeling spread over the whole community.

The Central Garage came to the rescue and put on a jitney bus between Bridgton, Portland and way stations. This however, solved only part of the difficulties.  There was still the problem of mail facilities. Post master Frank P. Davis took the situation up with the authorities immediately. He discovered that he could have the mail come over from Brownfield or from other main line points, at his own expense. This did not appeal to him and he looked up higher authority, with the result that Tuesday morning the service was partially resumed. A team was sent out from Harrison, collecting mail from that place, North Bridgton, Bridgton and way stations along the narrow gauge line, and receiving the mail which had accumulated at the Junction, brought is back to Bridgton and other places.

As soon as the gravity of the situation became apparent, large crews of men were put on the tracks with pickaxes and the work of picking the ice away from the track was begun. It will be easily seen, however, that this was something of a task when it is realized that it was necessary to pick nearly all the way. The distance from Harrison to Bridgton Junction is about twenty-one miles. The ice on both side of both rails had to be cleared away and it can therefore be reckoned as a good 42 miles of picking.

A crew started at the Harrison end and one at the Bridgton end, working toward each other. Several crews were put on the line between Bridgton and the Junction and Tuesday forenoon a large crew of men were sent up from Portland to help. Every effort was put forth to clean the tracks and begin operations again and Tuesday forenoon it looked as through there might be a train through that night, but it was well into Wednesday before the track was cleared.

Monday evening Miss Charlotte Abbott, Miss Maud Turner and Jesse Libby, passengers on the up train of the Mountain Division, Bridgton Bound, found themselves stranded at the Junction, with no means of reaching home. A telephone message was sent to Bridgton and a team was sent to convey the party home. They reached Bridgton in the wee small hours, somewhere between two and three in the morning, cold, hungry and disgusted.

(This article was originally published by The Bridgton NEWS on January 19, 1917.)

125 Years Ago, Today ~ January 18, 1892.

William Crosby, brakeman on the Bridgton railroad, met with a serious though not fatal accident Monday. He was at the switch, at this end of the line, and as the engine slowly approached him from the direction of the engine house, he jumped upon the cowcatcher, from which he slipped and his right foot was caught between the rail and the side of the iron pony snow-plow, a space of only about two inches, cutting and mangling it in a shocking manner. The engine was stopped as soon as possible, and Mr. Crosby extricated and taken to his boarding place, Oscar Ham’s. Dr. Kimball, assisted by Drs. Mitchell and Lombard, dressed the wound–one of the worst kind–and there is some hope that amputation may not be necessary. This is the first accident worthy of note that has occurred on this road since it was opened, a period of over eight years. To be sure, a section hand employed on this line was killed some years ago, but he was on the P. & O. R. R. when it happened.

(This article was originally published by The Bridgton NEWS on January 22, 1892.)

Speed Regulations

Speaking of railroads in the streets of populous villages, our steam-railroad, whose track crosses some village streets, is required to keep constantly before its employees this iron-clad regulation:

No train or engine must run across Main street, Mill street or Portland street, at a speed greater than five miles an hour. Bell must be sounded continuously while passing through yard of Bridgton Lumber Co.

– Originally published in The Bridgton NEWS, January 6, 1905.

1903 Freight Summary

Previously I wrote about the apple crop of 1904, which was detailed over several months in the Bridgton NEWS of that year. The apple crop of 1903 was not as significant, however the NEWS did publish a summary of the freight carried over the line for the fiscal year July 1 1902 – June 30 1903:

“Twenty-seven thousand twelve tons of freight have been hauled an average distance of 15.95 miles equal to 430,915 tons one mile. Average receipts per tone mile .0627 cts.

“Included in freight hauled is 2784 tons of Grain, Flour and Mill products, 1547 tons Apples and Canned Corn, 6912 tons Coal, 8400 tons Lumber, 830 tons Iron Castings, 400 tons Lime, Cement and Brick and 5800 tons of General Merchandise.

(The Bridgton NEWS, 20 NOV 1903)

For those formulating waybills or other documents for operations, I hope this helps.

This month I am starting a series of posts titles “One hundred years ago, today,” starting on 19 JAN, which will include an information or interesting article from the Bridgton NEWS which occurred on the posting date 100 years in the past. For those modeling the red boxcar era (Maine Central ownership of the B&SR), I likewise hope information from 1917 will be more relevant to yourselves.

Bridgton & Saco Promotional Booklet

June of last year I posted about the promotional booklet released by the B&SR, “Bridgton: Its Scenic Charms, Lakes, Mountains and Summer Delights.” Since that time I have been able to identify it as a first edition, dating the booklet in my collection to those printed between 1901 and 1903:

“Supt. Bennett of the Bridgton & Saco R. R. R. is preparing a booklet descriptive of Bridgton and vicinity, in the interests of the road. This booklet is to contain 22 half tone cuts of Bridgton’s scenic charms.”

The Bridgton News, 19 July 1901.

Many of the cuts, or photographs, used in the booklet appear in the following issues of The NEWS, with the August 9th NEWS issue detailing the complete list of cuts and some of the text. The list of cuts, per the article, is as follows:

  • Bridgton Junction at East Hiram, showing track and depot buildings.
  • Bridgton Station at Bridgton.
  • Bridgton Station Grounds.
  • Bridgton House and The Cumberland.
  • Fine view of West Depot St., Bridgton
  • “The Summit,” a noted point on the road’s line.
  • North Bridgton Station.
  • Steel Bridge and Lumber Mills, Bridgton Centre.
  • Sandy Creek Station and Lumber Mills.
  • Harrison Trestle No. 1 and Harrison Village.
  • Elm House, Harrison.
  • Harrison Station and Yard.
  • “The Notch,” as it is known in local railroad nomenclature.
  • The Methodist Church, Bridgton Centre.
  • Hancock Lake from cottage-home of Gen. Supt. J. A. Bennett.
  • Hancock Brook Arch.
  • Pretty View Highland Lake.
  • Highland Grove and Shorey’s Wharf.
  • Highland Lake as viewed from Shorey’s Wharf.
  • Long Lake, Harrison Village in Background.
  • Blanchard Cottage, North Bridgton.
  • Section of Road-Bed on Long Lake, looking towards Naples.
  • Congregational Church, Bridgton.
  • Map of the Region traversed by the Railroad.

Instead of posting the citation contained within the article, I have chosen to scan my copy, positively identified as Public Domain, and have made it available through the link below to those interested in reading the full text.

B&SR Bridgton Booklet 1901-1903 LR

The copy within Terry Smith’s collection, with the image of Hancock Lake on the cover, is from the printings made in 1904 and later. Several copies are also available in the archives of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and during a future trip I will review each of them to see if they differed between themselves, however I can definitely say there is a difference between the cuts of the initial edition and the latter, besides the cover change. The cover image, which reappears internally, is a difference I did notice while quickly flipping through during my recent trip to the museum in December. The first edition has a cut of Bennett’s Hancock cottage under construction, whereas this image has been replaced by the second edition cover cut of a finished cottage taken from a very similar vantage point.

All images within the PDF available through the link can be definitively stated to have been taken in 1901 or prior, with the majority taken in 1901.


The main fall time exports of the Bridgton area were corn and apples. Both were susceptible to the weather and insects, but when the crop came in, it was good for the railroad, and sometimes good for the farmers.

In 1904, the orchards were full and the apple buyers took to the fields. Unfortunately for the farmers of this year, the regional market was saturated and the buyers were offering a dollar a barrel for the best Baldwins. Many comments made within the Bridgton NEWS indicate that this was just over break-even. The crop was good shipping business for the B&SR though, as they couldn’t keep up with the load, even though they were throwing every available car at the business with extra freight trains.

To frame the situation, product started shipping out of Bridgton the week of Monday, 17 October 1904, and by Saturday 12 November, 13,000 barrels had been shipped, with about 1,100 more arriving 14 November and 400 more departing the other Bridgton stations (No. & So. Bridgton, Sandy Creek, etc.). By the 18th of November, the Harrison branch had contributed an additional 12,000 barrels. That’s a lot of potential apple sauce to be put up.

So what exactly is a barrel of apples? At that time, definition was a bit fuzzy still. The Canadians had argued about it in 1884, and from the records reviewed, continued to do so for many years to come. The buyers wanted to use the same barrel that flour was shipped in, which had been previously defined, but the farmers wanted to use a smaller barrel, one which was defined by the state of New York. The NY barrel was defined to have heads 16 1/2 inches in diameter, a bilge (middle circumference) of 63 inches, staves 28 1/2 inches long and not hold less than 100 quarts. The United States Congress further refined this definition in 1912, to set common weights and measures for interstate commerce:

1. Aug 3, 1912, c 273 §1, 37 Stat. 250.

15 USC Sec 231 (01/16/96)

§ 231. Standard barrel for apples; steel barrels

The standard barrel for apples shall be of the following dimensions when measured without distention of its parts: Length of stave, twenty-eight and one-half inches; diameter of head, seventeen and one-eighth inches; distance between heads, twenty-six inches; circumference of bulge, sixty-four inches outside measurement, representing as nearly as possible seven thousand and fifty-six cubic inches: Provided, That steel barrels containing the interior dimensions provided for in this section shall be construed as a compliance therewith.

The volume of the USC barrel was larger than that of the NY barrel, holding 3 bushel and a peck, rather than 2.7 bushels in the latter. The weight of a barrel varied as well. A bushel of apples weighs between 40 and 48 pounds, dependent upon species, size, etc.. A more modern source for small farmers states a barrel of apples weighs 135 lbs. If the barrels of the time were built to hold 2.7 bushels (100 quarts), the weight would range from 108 to 130 pounds. A 1918 Special Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission lists a “Full Apple Barrel”* at 30 pounds. This is the weight for the container only, and is a complete barrel as we visualize one to be. For the sake of picking a number, I’m going to assume a filled, Full Barrel of Baldwins weighed 150 pounds.

The interiors of the B&SR box cars are a tad over six feet wide on the inside, between the protective planking. Three of the NY barrels, at a 20 inches diameter waistline, can fit across inside, and if stored horizontally, will stack three rows high before contacting the roof. at 28.5 inches long, 11 barrels can lay end to end inside a 28 foot boxcar (27′-6″ inside) for a total of 33 barrels per layer, or 12 barrels end to end inside a 30 food boxcar (29′-6” inside) for a load of 36 barrels per layer. That is a total capacity of 99 barrels (14,850 lb) for the 28 foot car and 108 bbls (16,200 lb) for the 30 footer, so volume was the shipping restriction. This was further extrapolated to 90 bbls (13,500 lb) in the 26 foot car.

28-ft Boxcar with Apple Barrels

Getting down to the brass tacks, the B&SR had eighteen boxcars (7-26′, 7-28′ & 4-30′) in 1904 to move 26,500 barrels of apples (1,988 tons), or approximately 272 average boxcar-loads, in about 5 weeks. Working 6 days a week, that is nine full boxcars per day, making the trip from Bridgton or Harrison to the Junction.

Let’s backtrack to the internal planking of the boxcars, put in place to protect the structure of the car from its contents. Would the B&SR have loaded the cars with freight above this planking, which was 30.5″ above the floor? Possibly. If it was my equipment, I’d carry bags of cotton or rags above that line, but I don’t know if I would do it with 150 lb apple barrels. In such a case, they could load two layers of horizontal barrels or one layer of vertically stored barrels below the planking line. Using only the 28-footer as an example, its capacity would be 66 bbls horizontal, or 48 bbls vertical.

What this really comes down to is how you might like to operate your scale railroad should you model this period. If you wish to run a lesser number of cars with apples, stack them high, but should you wish to really strain the equipment availability, limit the load to below that plank line and run 1/3 more cars of apples.

I’m seeing visions of flatcars with barrels passing by now…


* The other container option is a “Half Apple Barrel” which is a full barrel cut in half around its midsection with a larger drum head applied here.

(Originally published December 27, 2016; Updated January 16, 2017.)