Railroads have been a part of my and my family’s life for generations. For myself, it likely originated with knowing it was time to go to bed only after hearing the horn of the 8pm passenger train in the distance, continued with the usual childhood Lionel set.
The choice to model this railway took many years. I had some great minor experiences which solidified my interest in railroading. My brothers and I had the opportunity to ride in the cab of an old Conrail Geep that switched the small yard in town because a neighbor knew the engineer. A local CSX crew let me throw a switch while railfanning one winter. There were the steam excursions run on the N&W / NS lines with N&W #1218, J #611 and various others.
Most galvanizing was my grandfather. We would work on HO scale layouts during the summer visits and visits to my Great Uncles’ would allow me to play with N scale equipment. He always had railroad books on the shelves and paintings or prints on the walls. When not piecing together track or trying to sort out what was causing the electrical short, I was reading his books.
Why the B&SR? The cyclic motion of driving rods and a flicker of fire of the steam era is more enticing to me now than the steel cased diesels I have chased. Maine narrow gauge is different, both in look and operation, than most other railroads; and I’m not one for doing what everyone else is. I enjoy the creativity associated with scratch building and hand laying track. In addition to that, family.
The B&SR was a 21 mile two foot narrow gauge railway stretching from “Bridgton Junction,” near Miram, ME, to Bridgton and on to Harrison, ME on the North side of Long Lake.
Many familiar with the B&SR have seen the picture below. It is included in the book Busted and Still Running, is currently used on the Bridgton Historical Society’s page on the B&SR and has appeared in several other publications.
The engineer holding #5’s handrail is my Great, Great Grandfather, John Marcque (Marcoux). Beside him is his son Phil and on the pilot is his daughter from a second marriage, Berdina. John was the Master Engineer, there with the construction crews until his retirement in 1909. The boys, Phil and Ernest, continued until much later.
Below is a photo from years later, showing John, sporting his bushy white mustache, with my grandfather, Phil, sitting shyly between his grandparents. My grandfather was named after his uncle, in the top left of the picture. Though I’m not sure why, my grandfather was referred to as “Billy,” though I figure it is because there were two Phil’s in the family then.
Regarding the names, my Grandfather’s dad (Harold, to John’s right) changed the Americanized “Marcque” back to the original French-Canadian Marcoux.
While he no doubt told me each time I asked, it wasn’t until later in life that I realized that it was my family who worked on the narrow gauge line and there they were in the books. John is mentioned in the Sandy River and Bridgton books by Jones, as well as the Bridgton books by McLin and Ward.
It is interesting that the only story I recall my grandfather relating to me was that he hated riding on the railroad. Not because of the road itself, but because every time he came home to Harrison from the Navy his uncle always made him ride in the cab rather than the passenger car. That coal dust was hell to get out of Navy whites!
So, here I am, nearly 75 years after the B&SR RR / B&H RR closed down, striving to create an operating scaled model of the line, with every desire to reproduce it faithfully due to my family’s involvement.