Bridgton and Saco River Railroad
Bridgton locomotive #8 operating at Edaville in 1959. A Bridgton tank car is visible in the background in front of the locomotive.
|Dates of operation||1883–1941|
|Track gauge||2 ft (610 mm)|
|Length||21 miles (34 km)|
The Bridgton and Saco River Railroad (B&SR) was a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railroad that operated in the vicinity of Bridgton and Harrison, Maine. It connected with the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad (later Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division) from Portland, Maine, to St. Johnsbury, Vermont, near the town of Hiram on the Saco River.
B&SR design was based on experience of the Sandy River Railroad. Hinkley Locomotive Works modified their 2 ft (610 mm) gauge Forney design to run boiler first with an extended frame similar to that installed on Sandy River Railroad #1 following a wreck in early 1882. The successful design of the Bridgton Hinkleys was subsequently repeated for the Monson Railroad and the Franklin and Megantic Railway. Construction began in 1882, and trains were running to Bridgton by early 1883.
B&SR used early profits to replace wooden trestles with earthen fills. A 14-foot (4.3 m) granite masonry arch was constructed over Hancock Brook in 1895. Track was extended to Harrison with 35# steel rails in 1898. Trestles on the Harrison extension had been replaced by earthen fills and plate girder bridges by 1906. Original Hinkley locomotives #1-2 were replaced by #5-6 of an improved design with pilot wheels. B&SR then replaced the original 30 lb/yd (14.9 kg/m) steel rails from Bridgton Junction to Bridgton with 48 lb/yd (23.8 kg/m) and 50 lb/yd (24.8 kg/m) steel rails from 1907 to 1910 before Maine Central Railroad secured control of the B&SR in 1912.
Under Maine Central operation, there were 4 mixed train round trips daily from Harrison to Bridgton Junction and return. The first left Harrison at 5:15 AM and the last returned to Harrison at 8:45 PM. Train speed seldom exceeded 20 miles per hour (32 km/h). Two passenger train sets were required for this service. The first consisted of baggage #10, RPO #25, and one or two coaches. A couple of bench seats at one end of baggage-RPO #11 provided smoking accommodation for the second train set. Freight traffic in 1913 was 18% outbound lumber, 15% outbound pulpwood, 15% inbound coal, 11% outbound apples and canned corn, 11% manufactured goods, 10% feed & grain, 10% express, and 2% inbound petroleum products. Locomotive #8 was the last locomotive built for the Maine 2 ft gauge railways.
Bond interest went unpaid in 1926, and the town of Bridgton began a 15-year effort to preserve their railroad. The B&SR was reorganized as the Bridgton and Harrison; but the extension to Harrison was dismantled after locomotive #8 tipped over when the 35# rails sagged in 1930. Locomotive #8 was the heaviest locomotive on any 2 ft gauge railway in Maine. B&SR became a tourist attraction as the last 2 ft gauge railroad offering passenger service in the late 1930s. Operation ceased in September 1941. The rolling stock was preserved when the rails were converted to scrap metal as the United States prepared for World War II. The rolling stock was moved to Massachusetts for another half-century of operation on the Edaville Railroad after the war. Subsequent to the restructuring of the Edaville Railroad, the historic Bridgton and Saco narrow gauge equipment returned to the state of Maine and are mostly located at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum in Portland.
There are still signs of the B&SR evident in a few places if one searches carefully for them. Members of the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway Museum have organized informal tours in the past several years to explore these remains. A new group, entitled Return of the Rails, has organized in Bridgton. Its mission is to bring back equipment and tracks of the narrow gauge line, and to date (2010) a tank car and a flanger have been moved from Portland to a display track at the Chamber of Commerce in the town.
|Bridgton and Saco River Railroad (Main Line)|
|Line length||33 mi (53 km)|
|Track gauge||2 ft (610 mm)|
Milepost 0: Bridgton Junction - Interchange yard with the Portland and Ogdensburg (later Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division.) Agent's station shared with Maine Central Railroad. B&SR had 6 northbound spurs plus a turntable with a single-stall enginehouse. The freight house spur was dual gauge, and there was a second dual gauge spur for loading and unloading narrow gauge-equipment on standard-gauge cars. There was no runaround track; so southbound B&SR locomotives uncoupled their train on the main line, moved into the yard, threw a turnout, and let their train roll past them into the yard by gravity to avoid being trapped at the end of the spur.
Milepost 0.8: Scribner's - southbound spur.
Milepost 1: granite masonry arch over Hancock Brook.
Milepost 1.2: Small's
Milepost 2.7: Mullen Siding - northbound spur.
Milepost 3: Summit - highest point on the railroad.
Milepost 5.4: Gravel Pit - northbound spur.
Milepost 7: The Notch - a rock cut.
Milepost 7.5: Water Tank Siding - passing siding adjacent to Hancock Pond. The main line ran between Hancock Pond and B&SR superintendent Joseph Bennett's lakeside cottage a short distance south of the covered water tank.
Milepost 11.3: Kennett's - southbound spur.
Milepost 13: high fill with granite masonry abutments for a short timber stringer span over Willett Brook.
Milepost 15.8: Bridgton - had the largest population of any village served by the Maine 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railroads. The yard was on the stub of a wye with branches to Harrison and Bridgton Junction. There were 2 storage sidings and 4 spurs serving the agent's station, a separate freight house, a team track, an oil distributor, a grain store, the B&SR shop, and a turntable with a 4-stall enginehouse.
Milepost 15.9: Farmers Market - two northbound spurs (one was a coal trestle.)
Milepost 16.4: Forest Mills—passing siding with a northbound coal trestle spur.
Milepost 20.7: Harrison - agent's station with a passing siding and several southbound spurs serving a freight house, a cannery, a grain store, a 2-track car shed, and a turntable with a single-stall enginehouse.
Master Mechanic Caswell
Bridgton machine shop foreman Millard M. "Mel" Caswell was born in 1850. He took an early interest in mechanical affairs of the proposed railroad and served as master mechanic for the B&SR until he retired in 1926. He remained interested in the railroad and frequently attended the railfan excursions of the 1930s. His son, Wilfred H. Caswell, was born in 1876 and shared his father's mechanical aptitude. Wilfred Caswell was the engineer assigned to the construction train for the Harrison extension in 1898. Wilfred was the Portland Company mechanical engineer who supervised construction of the first Maine narrow gauge Forney locomotive with a pilot truck (B&SR locomotive number 5) in 1906. Wilfred then served as a consulting engineer for Baldwin Locomotive Works during construction of B&SR locomotive number 6 and an identical locomotive for the Sandy River Railroad. In May 1909 Wilfred became master mechanic of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad (SR&RL). Wilfred's early recognition of the technical value of photography produced excellent photographic documentation of SR&RL operations through the period of Maine Central Railroad ownership. When SR&RL profits declined in 1922, Wilfred and his wife Blanche, who had been the SR&RL book-keeper, moved to Dedham, Massachusetts, where Wilfred worked for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.
|10||Laconia Car Company||baggage car||1882||41 feet (12.50 m)||no seats||renumbered #31|
|11||Jackson & Sharpe||baggage-RPO||1900||41 feet 9 inches (12.73 m)||6 passengers||renumbered #30 3-door Baggage/RPO later converted by Edaville to Baggage/Coach, and later again to Coach. Currently located at Boothbay Railway Village, Boothbay ME|
|15||Laconia Car Company||coach||1882||41 feet (12.50 m)||28 passengers|
|16||Laconia Car Company||coach||1882||41 feet (12.50 m)||28 passengers|
|17||Laconia Car Company||coach||1904||42 feet 9 inches (13.03 m)||28 passengers||named "Elthea" on Edaville Railroad|
|18||Jackson & Sharpe||coach||1894||39 feet 9 inches (12.12 m)||28 passengers||purchased from Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway in 1911. currently leased to WW&F Railway Museum, restored as Wiscasset and Quebec #3|
|25||Portland Terminal Company||RPO-smoking car||1913||42 feet 9 inches (13.03 m)||30 passengers||
badly damaged in a collision with locomotive #7 in the Bridgton yard about 1927. The larger smoking compartment was rebuilt to carry express with a single baggage door on only one side of the car; and the smaller RPO compartment was rebuilt with a few seats to carry passengers. The car was sold for use as a restaurant in 1935. The appearance of locomotive #7 was permanently changed by replacement of a smaller number plate on the front of the boiler.
|101||Laconia Car Company||caboose||1882||26 feet (7.92 m)||5 passengers|
|2-7||Portland Terminal Company||flat cars||1916||34 feet (10.36 m)||15 short tons (13 long tons; 14 t)||the largest flat cars on any 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway in Maine.|
|8-10||Portland Terminal Company||flat cars||1915||34 feet (10.36 m)||15 short tons (13 long tons; 14 t)||the largest flat cars on any 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway in Maine.|
|11-13||Portland Terminal Company||flat cars||1913||34 feet (10.36 m)||15 tons||the largest flat cars on any 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway in Maine.|
|14-21||Portland Company||flat cars||1903||30 feet (9.14 m)||15 tons||Flat car #21 was fitted with a 3,000-US-gallon (2,500 imp gal; 11,000 L) oil tank for the Standard Oil Company of New York in 1920. The tank was later transferred to flat car #14 when #21 was scrapped.|
|22||Portland Company||flat cars||1899||28 feet (8.53 m)||10 tons||fitted with a 2,500-US-gallon (2,100 imp gal; 9,500 L) oil tank for the Standard Oil Company in 1901. Cars #22 and #21/14 were the only 2 ft (610 mm) gauge tank cars in Maine.|
|23||Portland Company||flat cars||1899||28 feet (8.53 m)||10 tons||parts used by Edaville to construct open car #202|
|24-27||Portland Company||flat cars||1899||28 feet (8.53 m)||10 tons|
|28-33||Portland Company||flat cars||1891||28 feet (8.53 m)||10 tons|
|34||B&SR||flat car||1889||26 feet (7.92 m)||10 tons|
|35-44||Laconia Car Company||flat cars||1882||26 feet (7.92 m)||10 tons||Flat cars #35, 38, and 41-42 were rebuilt by B&SR to a length of 28 feet (8.5 m) when they required repairs. Flat car #40 was rebuilt as a flanger.|
|45-49||Laconia Car Company||box cars||1882||26 feet (7.92 m)||10 tons|
|50-51||B&SR||box cars||1889||26 feet (7.92 m)||10 tons|
|52-54||Portland Company||box cars||1895||28 feet (8.53 m)||10 tons||car 54 converted by Edaville to excursion car, currently leased by SR&RL, Phillips, ME|
|55-58||Portland Company||box cars||1898||28 feet (8.53 m)||10 tons||Box cars #56-58 had two small hinged doors on either side which could be opened as windows when transporting livestock.|
|59-62||Portland Company||box cars||1900||30 feet (9.14 m)||15 tons||the first 30-foot (9.1 m) freight cars built for any 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railroad in Maine.|
|63-68||Laconia Car Company||box cars||1905||30 feet (9.14 m)||15 tons|
|69-70||B&SR||box cars||1906||30 feet (9.14 m)||15 tons|
|71-73||Portland Terminal Company||box cars||1913||34 feet (10.36 m)||15 tons||the largest box cars on any 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway in Maine.|
- Moody (1959), p. 124-129.
- Railroad Commissioners' Report State of Maine 1895 p. 35
- Moody (1959), p. 132.
- Railroad Commissioners' Report State of Maine 1906 p.56
- Moody (1959), p. 130 & 133.
- Railroad Commissioners' Report State of Maine 1907 p.59
- Railroad Commissioners' Report State of Maine 1909 p. 73
- Railroad Commissioners' Report State of Maine 1910 p. 83
- Mead (1968), p. 28-29.
- Jones (1993), p. 82.
- Jones (1993), p. 249.
- Railroad Commissioners' Report State of Maine 1913 p. 211
- Moody (1959), p. 134.
- Moody (1959), p. 136.
- Moody (1959), p. 139-140.
- Moody (1959), p. 143.
- Jones (1993), p. 114.
- Jones (1993), p. 115.
- Meade, Edgar T., Jr. The Bridgton Narrow Gauge (Volume II)(Bridgton & Harrison Railway Co.) Railhead Publication 1987 p.4
- Mead (1968), p. 22-23.
- Mead (1968), p. 36-37.
- Jones (1993), p. 114-115.
- United States Census 1880
- Jones (1993), p. 26-96.
- Jones (1993), p. 144.
- Jones (1993), p. 50-73.
- Jones (1980), p. 26.
- Jones (1980), p. 89.
- Jones (1980), p. 188.
- Mead (1968), p. 54.
- Jones (1993), p. 221.
- Crittenden (1966), p. 69.
- Crittenden (1966), p. 77.
- Jones (1993), p. 45.
- Mead (1968), p. 55.
- Mead (1968), p. 56.
- Barney (1987), p. 93.
- Mead (1968), p. 37-38.
- Barney (1987), p. 12-13.
- Jones (1993), p. 223.
- Barney (1987), p. 13.
- Jones, Robert C. Two Feet to the Lakes, The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Pacific Fast Mail 1993 p.90 -- Jones incorrectly associates this tank with car number 22 (fitted with a tank 19 years earlier) and states capacity as 5,000 US gal (4,200 imp gal; 19,000 L) (inconsistent with tank dimensions from scale drawings on Jones page 234 and Barney page 91)
- Barney (1987), p. 62 & 90.
- Jones, Robert C. Two Feet to the Lakes, The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Pacific Fast Mail 1993 pp.223 & 235
- Jones, Robert C. Two Feet to the Lakes, The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Pacific Fast Mail 1993 pp.222-223
- Jones, Robert C. Two Feet to the Lakes, The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Pacific Fast Mail 1993 p.63 -- Jones incorrectly associates this tank with car number 14 (built 2 years after this tank was fitted) and states capacity as 3,000 US gal (2,500 imp gal; 11,000 L) (inconsistent with tank dimensions from scale drawings on Jones page 235 and Barney page 91)
- Moody (1959), p. 28 & 132.
- Jones (1993), p. 222.
- Mead (1968), p. 58.
- Barney (1987), p. 53.
- Barney (1987), p. 14 & 90.
- Barney (1987), p. 60.
- Barney, Peter S. (1987). The Bridgton and Saco River: A Technical and Pictorial Review. A&M Publishing. ASIN B0006ENSOA. OCLC 17261223.
- Crittenden, H. Temple (1966). The Maine Scenic Route: A History of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad (1st ed.). Parsons, WV.: McClain Print. Co. ISBN 978-0-8701-2060-2. OCLC 950420.
- Johnson, Ron (n.d.). Maine Central R.R. Mountain Division. 470 Railroad Club.
- Jones, Robert C. (1980). Two Feet Between the Rails (Volume II - The Mature Years). Sundance Books.
- Jones, Robert C. (1993). Two Feet to the Lakes, The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad. Edmonds, WA.: Pacific Fast Mail. ISBN 978-0-9157-1326-4. OCLC 29191763.
- MacDonald, Robert L. (2003). Maine Narrow Gauge Railroads. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-1179-X.
- McLin, William Hellen (1941). The Twenty-Four-Inch Gauge Railroad at Bridgton, Maine. The Bridgton News.
- Mead, Jr., Edgar Thorn (1968). 'Busted and Still Running' ; The Famous Two-Foot Gauge Railroad of Bridgton, Maine. Brattleboro, VT.: The Stephen Greene Press. ASIN B000GFD5XS. OCLC 72315.
- Meade Edgar T., Jr. (1987). The Bridgton Narrow Gauge (Volume II)(Bridgton & Harrison Railway Co.). Railhead Publications.
- Moody, Linwood W. (1959). The Maine Two-Footers: The Story of the Two-Foot Gauge Railroads of Maine (1st ed.). Berkeley, CA.: Howell-North. ASIN B0007DVPH2. OCLC 637543767.
- Ward, Ernest E. (1966). My First Sixty Years in Harrison, Maine. Cardinal Printing Co.
- Railroad Commissioners' Report. State of Maine. 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914. Check date values in: