Promoting the 2ft Rails

Thursday evening of last week [01 Dec, 1892 – RU] there arrived in this village a notable party of gentlemen, bound on a peculiar mission. The cicerone of the party was one whom the Bridgton public have cause to long remember, and with gratitude too, for but for his system of railroad our town would have been to this day without steam communication with the outside world–Mr. George E. Mansfield, the originator of the two-foot-gauge system of road, and who filled so important a part in putting our road into being. With him were five prominent citizens of Nova Scotia, from Yarmouth and vicinity, men of brains and character and best representing the various elements, of public office, (in the Canadian Parliament, &c) of business interests, and the professionals, in that section. They were: A. M. Hatfield of Yarmouth, J. E. Lloyd of Lockport, W. Sargent of Barrington, E. L. Simmons of Lusket, Yarmouth, and Joseph R. Wyman of the latter-named city. Their object in coming here was this: It is proposed to build a narrow-gauge railroad from Yarmouth eastward to Rockport, a distance of very nearly 100 miles, following the general coast-line and taking in the chief maritime points, as well as striking the interior traffic; and so these five leading citizens came as a committee to Maine, to study the Mansfield system, with a view of constructing the road on that plan if deemed suitable and economical. Hearing of Mr. Mansfield, who is now a resident of Greenfield, N. H., they engaged him to accompany them on a tour of observation over the different two-foot-roads in this State, they made our road the final scene of their investigations, coming and returning over it. At the Bridgton House they held and informal conference and talk with officers of the road, engineer Marcque and other of our citizens and took copious notes. They were a fine body of men, and the interview was mutually satisfactory and pleasing to all concerned. They one and all expressed entire satisfaction with our system of road, nay more, were enthusiastic over its construction and workings, and went away next morning with the resolve to report to their constituency in favor of this style of railway.

~ Printed in the Bridgton News, 09 Dec, 1892.

125 Years Ago, December

A few posts from the 09 December, 1892 Bridgton News:

Baldwins aplenty:

In the first three weeks of November the Bridgton railroad carried from this immediate region 6500 barrels of apples.

The railroad is in a fine state of affairs:

The State Railroad Commissioners, who not long ago made an inspection of the Bridgton road, report that “it rides as good as any railroad in the State.”

Expansion of operational capabilities:

At the Ingall’s Road station the side track has been extended and changed so that four or five cars can now be loaded at one and the same time.

And the new Junction station is underway:

A handsome new station is being built at Bridgton Junction by the Maine Central Co.; extended platforms, awnings; etc., in short, will correspond with those at Fryeburg, and other of the larger stations.

Fixing an Error

Hello all,

Although work and other projects through November have taken their toll on me posting to the site, a recent “500 Internal Server Error” had gotten the better of me. I hope it has been resolved now, and if so, I have a few posts to catch up for the Month of December.



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.)