Portland and Ogdensburg Railway

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Portland & Ogdensburg Railway
Pass of the Crawford Notch and Train.jpg
Willey Brook Bridge in the White Mountains
Locale west from Portland, Maine
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
1870s map
1879 map

The Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad was a railroad planned to connect Portland, Maine to Ogdensburg, New York. The plan failed, and in 1880 the Vermont section was reorganized and leased by the Boston & Lowell Railroad. In 1886, the Maine and New Hampshire section was reorganized as the Portland & Ogdensburg Railway. That part was leased to the Maine Central Railroad in 1888, and in 1912 the Maine Central leased the eastern part of the Vermont section from the Boston & Maine Railroad, the successor to the B&L.

History[edit]

The Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad was chartered on February 11, 1867 to run from Portland to Fabyan, a junction at Carroll, New Hampshire in the White Mountains, where the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad would continue west. Their track joined in a ceremony at the summit of Crawford Notch on August 7, 1875, then opened on August 16, 1875.[1]

In 1864, the Essex County Railroad was chartered to run from St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on the Connecticut & Passumpsic Rivers Railroad, east to Lunenburg on the border with New Hampshire. The Montpelier & St. Johnsbury Railroad was chartered in 1866 to run west from St. Johnsbury to Montpelier. The Lamoille Valley Railroad was chartered in 1867 to run from West Danville on the planned M&SJ northwest to Swanton. The three companies were consolidated on August 7, 1875 to form the Vermont Division of the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad, and the construction that had started was continued, except that the part of the M&SJ west of West Danville was never built.

Construction on the Vermont Division began in 1871, and was complete in 1877. To connect between the two divisions, the company at first used trackage rights over the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad from Fabyan to Dalton, New Hampshire, but soon built its own alignment. West of Swanton, the P&O was allied with the Ogdensburgh & Lake Champlain Railroad, running west from Rouses Point, New York to Ogdensburg, and used the Vermont & Canada Railroad to access it.

The Montreal, Portland & Boston Railway opened in 1876 from Montreal, Quebec to the national border, and was planned to continue into Vermont as a branch of the P&O.

Just after completion of the Vermont Division the company went bankrupt, was taken over by the receiver on October 19, 1877. The Vermont Division was reorganized as the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain Railroad on January 30, 1880. On August 9, 1882 the Montreal, Portland & Boston Railway leased it, but it was soon taken over by the Boston & Lowell Railroad.

Gates of Crawford Notch, "the Big Cut", looking northwest c. 1880s

The main division was reorganized on June 8, 1884 as the Portland & Ogdensburg Railway, and on August 20, 1888, the Maine Central Railroad leased it as their Mountain Division (some of which survives as the Conway Scenic Railroad, a heritage railroad). In July 1912, the Maine Central Railroad leased the old Vermont Division, but on August 1, 1927 the lease was terminated, and a new lease was made on only the part east of St. Johnsbury. The remainder of the Vermont Division operated as the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain Railroad until reorganized as the St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County Railroad in 1948.

Locomotives[edit]

Number Name Builder Type Date Works number Notes
2nd #1 Presumpscot 4-4-0 1847 ex-Boston and Providence Railroad scrapped 1879
3rd #1 Presumpscot Souther 4-4-0 1851 ex-Portland and Kennebec Railroad #6 Richmond then Maine Central Railroad purchased 1879 rebuilt to 0-4-0 scrapped 1885
2 Saco Portland Company 4-4-0 1870 183 re-boilered after boiler explosion in 1874 became Maine Central Railroad #102 in 1888
3 Sebago Portland Company 4-4-0 1870 182 originally 1st #1 became Maine Central Railroad #103 in 1888
4 Ossipee Portland Company 4-4-0 1870 173 became Maine Central Railroad #104 in 1888
5 Fryeburg Portland Company 4-4-0 1871 189 became Maine Central Railroad #105 in 1888
6 Pequawket Portland Company 4-4-0 1873 246 became Maine Central Railroad #106 in 1888
7 Carrigain Portland Company 4-4-0 1872 221 re-boilered in 1884 became Maine Central Railroad #107 in 1888
8 Crawford Portland Company 4-4-0 1875 329 became Maine Central Railroad #108 in 1888
9 Frankenstein Portland Company 2-6-0 1875 330 became Maine Central Railroad #109 in 1888
10 Resolution Portland Company 2-6-0 1881 404 became Maine Central Railroad #110 in 1888
11 Webster Portland Company 4-4-0 1882 452 became Maine Central Railroad #111 in 1888
12 Kearsarge Hinkley Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1884 1574 became Maine Central Railroad #112 in 1888
13 Chocarua Portland Company 2-6-0 1884 537 became Maine Central Railroad #113 in 1888
14 Avalon Portland Company 2-6-0 1884 538 became Maine Central Railroad #114 in 1888
15 Willey Portland Company 4-4-0 1884 529 became Maine Central Railroad #115 in 1888
16 Willard Portland Company 4-4-0 1884 530 became Maine Central Railroad #116 in 1888

Vermont Division locomotives[edit]

Number Name Builder Type Date Works number Notes
1 St. Johnsbury Portland Company 4-4-0 1871 190 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #1 in 1880
2 Lamoille Portland Company 4-4-0 1871 196 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #2 in 1880
3 Swanton Portland Company 4-4-0 1871 204 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #3 in 1880
4 Hyde Park Portland Company 4-4-0 1871 202 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #4 in 1880 then sold to Wild River Railroad about 1891
5 Essex Portland Company 4-4-0 1871 207 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #5 in 1880
6 Maquam Mason Machine Works 4-4-0 1872 593 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #6 in 1880
7 Mansfield Mason Machine Works 4-4-0 1872 595 became St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad #7 in 1880

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bruce D. Heald, A History of the Boston & Maine Railroad: Exploring New Hampshire's Rugged Heart by Rail; The History Press; Charleston, South Carlolina 2007