Thursday, October 7, 2010

Belfast & Moosehead Railroad

YEP,,, we are getting ready for another train ride. Sunday we will be riding on the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad from Belfast to Brooks and back again. This was  one of the few municipally owned railroadsB&ML Logo in the country. The B&ML was originally chartered in 1836 but due to lack of funding it never left the proverbial station. It was chartered again in 1867 . This was also the year that the Maine Legislature passed a bill allowing municipalities to finance railroads by selling bonds. The citizens of Belfast voted overwhelmingly to finance the project. Before the line was even completed two other railroads, the Maine Central and the Portland & Kennebec were competing to lease the line. In the end, in 1871, the Maine Central Railroad won out. The B&ML would build the 33 mile line from Belfast to Burnham to connect with MEC’s main line, and the MEC would run the trains. This arrangement lasted for 55 years when the MEC canceled it’s lease in 1925. The city decided that they would run the line and in 1926 hired H. P. Crowell, a veteran railroad man from Vermont. There was one large problem though, the B&ML had no rolling stock of it’s own. For the first month of independent operation two locomotives, a baggage car, and a passenger car were leased from the MEC, and then for another year or so similar equipment was leased from the Boston & Maine. In 1927, however, the B&ML finally began to purchase its own very well used rolling stock. In December of that year the B&ML acquired its first locomotive – a 4-4-0 Manchester (steam engine) built in 1893 from the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad which became B&ML #16. Over the next eighteen years the B&ML traded for or purchased six more veteran steam engines from the BAR, the last of which, #61, was forty-four years old when it was acquired in April, 1945. In 1946 they made the switch to diesel power by purchasing a pair of the General Electric Company's new 70-ton Diesel electric locomotives – the first two pieces of new equipment the line would ever own. During the 1980’s and 90’s with declining freight revenues the only thing that kept the line afloat was the new tourist excursion business. Since then the line has been owned and operated by a number of entities. Today the line is leased from the State of Maine by the Brooks Preservation Society which is restoring the rails and runs excursion trains. We stopped at their Brooks station and got some early photos.

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Lois Evensen said...

Very cool. I enjoy your history lessons and images of your travels. :)) Great post once again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lois,
Folks here in Maine like to save and share their proud history. Still to come is a narrow gauge rr and some Trolley's. Thanks for sharing our trip.

possum said...

You are sending one of those trains down here, aren't you? Let me know when to expect it.

Anonymous said...

LEave some room in your driveway for a caboose.

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