A man of many interests and talents, Maine narrow gauge fans and modelers owe a bit of good fortune to Hugh Boutell (among others) for his contributions to our files and the early interest he displayed in the two footers.

An engineer, his trade took him from Illinois to Washington, D.C., ultimately becoming Director at the National Bureau of Standards. He contributed numerous engineering articles to publications in the automotive, railway and general manufacturing industries, as well as the astronomy hobby, another passion of his.

Aside from the Railway Engineering article mentioned, Hugh is credited with taking many photographs which have graced the pages of our resource books over the years:

  • Two Feet to the Lakes (Jones)
  • The Twenty-Fout-Inch Gauge Railroad at Bridgton, Maine (McLin)
  • My First Sixty Years in Harrison, Maine (Ward)
  • Several Edgar Mead, Jr. publications
  • Many “Extra Narrow Gauge Junction” articles by Andrews

Dick Andrews published a photo of an early Boutell locomotive in his first “Extra Narrow Gauge” article in Jan/Feb 1979, which ran on three rails! (No doubt sacrilege today, but this is a hobby after all; run what you like.) Terry Smith also included a mention of Hugh’s early narrow gauge modeling ventures in a 2008 post on the Yahoo! “Maine On2” Group (#7762).

Hugh Boutell, (c) 1934 Popular Science

Hugh Boutell in his attic layout, (c) 1934 Popular Science

Dick Andrews referenced Hugh as the pioneer narrow gauge modeler, getting started in the 1930’s (apparently after pioneering HO in the US – see pg 4, R col, 2nd para). His Pine Cone Valley RR operated with some live steam and electric locomotives in 5/16″ to the foot scale, operating on HO scale track. Clearly his visit to the B&SR in 1908 and later visits made a great impression upon him.