Farewell to Engine No. 4
On Saturday, March 30, 2014 my friends Dan, Jameson and I made our way up to the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum in Portland, ME to say farewell to Engine No. 4. This 0-4-4 Forney locomotive was built by Vulcan Iron Works in 1918. This steam locomotive’s 15-year federal boiler certificate will expire this spring, what does this mean? Once this certificate expires; the locomotive boiler needs to be rebuilt or replaced before it can operate again.
History of Maine Engine No. 4
What is a narrow gauge railroad? A railroad using a track gauge narrower than the standerd gauge of 4 foot 8 1/2 inches, this is the width between the rails. In the early days of railroading the gauge varied by country and sometimes by railroad. Here in the USA what we call standard gauge was very popular along with some other variations. A few railroads such as Maine’s Bridgton and Saco River Railroad and Monson Railroad liked the 2 foot gauge. The B&SR Railroad had passenger and freight service between Bridgton to Harrison, ME a total of 33 miles. As for the Monson Railroad it serviced Maine’s Slate Mines. This is where you would find Engine No. 4 traveling along 6 1/4 mile Monson, ME route.
Engine No. 4 was a part of the Monson Railroad until the early 1940’s. The railroad was dismantled in late 1944, and the equipment was shipped to a used equipment yard in Rochester, NY. A few years later Engine 4 returned to New England to be restored. A man named Ellis D Atwood not only bought Engine 4 he also bought Engine 3 which is also a 0-4-4 Forney locomotive along with some rolling stock cars.
Once the equipment was restored Atwood put the locomotives and rolling stock to work on his 1,800 acre cranberry plantation in South Carver, Massachusetts. People started asking Mr. Atwood if they could ride on his railroad, he saw a new opportunity. He then created the historic amusement park called Edaville Railroad. Passengers enjoyed a 5 ½ mile loop [map] around the plantation passing Atwood’s cranberry bogs, Reservoirs, and a small railroad yard with a turnable.
As a child living only 15 minutes away from this historical railroad amusement park, I visited quite often with my dad. I remember being in awe seeing the steam locomotives and coaches. I could spend the whole day taking rides around the 5 ½ mile loop. Sometimes getting off the train at the Atwood Reservoir stop, where the view was picturesque, and you could spend the afternoon fishing. I remember one Sunday, my dad and I was able to ride up on one of those 0-4-4 Forney steam locomotives. It was an amazing experience to be right upfront. During Christmas time I would often visit Edaville for there Festival of lights. Along the trip round the plantation there were small staged villages and thousands of twinkling lights. This was Edaville’s most popular event.
In 1991 the Atwood Family stopped operation of the Edaville Railroad and put the railroad up for sale. Shortly after that in 1992 most of the equipment was sold to a group in Portland, ME which formed what is now known as Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum. Most of the rolling stock and locomotives 3,4, and 8 were trucked up to Portland. On moving day people near and far lined Route 58 in South Carver, Massachusetts, my dad and I was one of those people. We watched as the parade of equipment passed, us we tried to snap as many photos as we could. Like myself so many people have childhood memories of Edaville Railroad and wanted to witness this, end of an era.
Every now and then my Dad and I would stop over to see if anything was going on at Edaville. There were a lot of rumors about reopening the railroad under new ownership. Although, the Maine group bought most of the equipment there were still some rolling stock still there, including engine number 7. When we stopped by we would see an empty parking lot with grass growing in the seams of the pavement. The track was still there, but grass was growing through the ballast. A few times dad and I walked the whole right of way, we would think about all the great times we had there. While we were there we couldn’t get over how many cars would pull into the parking lot in hopes to spend the day at Edaville, only to find the park shut down. The few people we spoke to said they wanted to bring their kids to the park, because they enjoyed it so much when they were a children.
A few groups tried to restart the railroad, including Edaville Entertainment Group and South Carver Rail. South Carver Rail lead by former Edaville Railroad employees, gave it a go, they even refurbished engine #7 and borrowed engine #3 from Maine. Sadly both attempts failed. Engine #3 was returned back to Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum and this also became the new home of Baldwin Locomotive Works #7. Currently #7 is undergoing a boiler overhaul, in Portland. In 2005 John Delli Priscolli brought up the Atwood property and the remaining equipment. Most of the original buildings have been replaced and the theme park has gotten a facelift. Also the railroad right-of-way has been reconfigured to a 2 mile loop. Currently they only operate diesel locomotives.
Meanwhile, back in Portland, Maine the old Edaville Railroad rolling stock and locomotives were given new life on a 1 ½ mile right of away that runs along downtown Portland Casco Bay waterfront. This is where you would see ex Edaville #1 a 1949 General Electric Diesel locomotive and until recently Vulcan Iron Works #4 in action. Along with taking a ride you can visit the museum and learn about the history of Narrow Gauge Railroads in Maine. My dad and I would often visit during our summer time trips to Maine. It’s hard to believe it been over 20 years in operation now. The museum is currently in the process of moving its operation from downtown Portland to Gray, Maine. Trains would then operate on the old Portland-Lewiston Interurban right-of-way along Route100. The space would double for the railroad, offices, restoration shops, and museum. Plans also include a roundhouse for the locomotives with a turnable. The group hopes to be up and running in Gray, ME by 2016.
Dan, Jameson (Dan’s son) and I spent the day at the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum. I’ve been here a few times, they were visiting the museum for the first time. With our cameras in hand we started snapping shots of Engine #4 in action. We boarded the 4pm ride and hand a few opportunities to deboard the train to take photos. We were able to take photos of the locomotive doing the runaround just before the Old Back Cove Grand Trunk Railroad Bridge and pass by along the beach part of the right of way. I was also able to eavesdrop in on railroad operations on my scanner 160.245 PL 82.5
Then later that evening we boarded the train again for a night shoot. We made our way back to Old Back Cove Grand Trunk Railroad Bridge where they set up Engine #4 and staged freight equipment on the runaround track. This was my first time doing a night shoot. I got to say I learned a lot.
I hope to see engine #4 chugging along the tracks again. I’m very thankful to have seen it given new life not once but twice. It could have been pulled a part and scraped in that used equipment yard in New York, but it was saved. Then it was saved again by group of rail fans in Maine. Thanks to a few that love trains for making this huge effort, so future generations can fall in love with them as well!
160.245 PL 82.5
If you were to drive around North Easton, MA you would have never thought a train ran through the heart of this community. Just off of Oliver Street you will find a single story building with lots of character, with a platform and abandon railroad tracks peeking thru the grass and weeds. Constructed in 1881 and designed by Architect Henry H. Richardson who also designed eight other railroad stations. It’s been 38 years (1976) since a train made its way passed this now National Historic Landmark. Trains may someday pass this historic station again with the South Coast Rail Project. This will bring commuter rail service back to this area and southern points like Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River. Right now, it’s unknown when this project will be completed.
Last fall I stopped by the North Easton Station to take few photos.
When it comes to Rails to Trails most rail-fans dislike this.
Here is some background:
Here in the Northeast, there are a lot of abandoned railroad right-of-ways. Most haven’t seen service since the 1930’s. With better highway structures, more people and trucks would hit the highways rather than the rails. Railroads consolidated by eliminated secondary routes and branches that lacked use over a period of time. This railroad abandonment spanned from only few miles to hundreds of miles.
In the mid 1980’s, a group called “Rail to Trails” formed to convert these abandon right-of-ways so the public could use this lines for bike riding, walking, running, rollerblading, and even commuting. Most of these rail lines have been abandon and dormant for years, even decades.
As a little boy, I was fascinated with rail lines; including the ones that are just mere paths in the woods.
I feel this is great way to find a use for these long forgotten right-of-ways, but I wouldn’t agree with removing an active rail line, for a bike trail.
I’m an avid cyclist, always looking for a place to ride, so I was able to check out a few of the rail trails near Attleboro. Most trails are done very well; highlighting the rail line’s history with plaques along the way. Sometimes you can spot an old depot or even cross over an old railroad bridge or two. While I’m riding, I wish I could take a trip back in time and see the right-of-way in its heyday.
I hate to see any railroad line become an abandoned one. I think rails-to-trails can be a good idea, considering rail fans such as myself never like to see a right-of-way becoming overgrown and forgotten.
The current Wickford Junction MBTA station celebrated its grand opening back on April 23nd, 2012. This is currently the end of the line for the MBTA Attleboro/Providence line, with 10 trains stopping weekdays at this multimillion-dollar station. The station includes a four-story, 1,100 space parking garage along with an indoor waiting room and a small coffee/snack shop. The station is located on the Northeast Corridor at mile post 165.8; 16 miles from Providence and 63 miles from Boston. Trains stopping on this station pull off to a siding track.
The original station was built in 1844, and unfortunately burned down around 1890. The station was replaced by a smaller station later turn down in 1969, leaving only the barren station platforms. Just beyond the station off the main line is the 3.5 mile Wickford Branch, which was built in 1871 heading out to Wickford Landing. The Wickford Landing portion was abandoned back in 1938, and the rest of the branch was abandoned in 1962. Some parts or the branch can be seen, but most of the track is gone.
Listen to Amtrak, MBTA/MBCR on 160.9200 MHz
We are looking for your help building our Railroad Frequincy Database. Currently I’m working on the Northeast since I’m from the northeast. If you’re a rail-fan with a scanner submit your confirmed railroad frequency list to us. The more detailed list the better.
With your help we can make an online source with the most detailed information for rail fanning with a scanner. Our Frequency Database will include the following: freight, passenger, rapid transit, trolley and railroad related museums. – Read more and learn how you can submit your Railroad Scanner Frequencies to us.
If your travel ever takes you to the Carolinas, be sure to stop in Spencer, NC; the home of the North Carolina Transportation Museum. You will find everything from planes to cars and yes, trains; in this over 57-acre facility. I was amazed at how much they had on exhibit, from locomotives to rolling stock in its 37-bay roundhouse. The Museum is located at the former Southern Railway’s Spencer Shops, which includes a 37-bay roundhouse, 100 foot turntable, and repair shops. My dad and I enjoyed all of the exhibits and even took a train ride around the museum, pulled by engine #2601 of the Southern Railways.
Right across the street is the Little Choo Choo Shop Model Train shop. Great place to visit while you’re at NC Transportation Museum.
Listen to all the activity on 160.695 MHz
Here are some photos taken last July from our visit.
Visit to New Bern, NC
Over the 4th of July holiday, my family and I spent some time in the Carolina’s. On the coastal leg or our trip we spent some time in New Bern, NC, a small tourist town, and is located in Craven County where Trent River merges with the Neuse River. As we pulled into the campground in New Bern, I heard some train horns from a distance, and I was very excited. Over the weekend we found two drawbridges; one crossing the Trent River and another crossing the Neuse River. Not being familiar with the area, it was hard to pin down when the freight trains cross the drawbridges. A few of the mornings, I heard Norfolk Southern crossing the Neuse River Drawbridge around 3 or 4 AM.
One afternoon my wife (Jodie) and I explored New Bern railroad roots. We found New Bern Union Train Depot, which was being restored, a railway shop, and the Norfolk Southern Rail Yard. We also scoped out some spots for taking photos, if the opportunity aroused.
Crossing the Neuse River
There is a great little park with a small parking lot on the Bridgeton side of the Neuse River. You can get close up shots of NS crossing the Neuse River, in the park or on the dock. The drawbridge is on the New Bern side of the river, the bridge is left in the open position unless a train is crossing. This track leaves New Bern and runs to points North and east of New Bern.
Crossing the Trent River
Great spot for crossing the Trent River is behind the Bridge Pointe Hotel & Marina. The drawbridge is on this side of the river. Like the Neuse drawbridge, it’s left in the open position unless a train is crossing. This track leaves New Bern and runs to Morehead City, NC.
New Bern Railroad Yard
The yard is located only minutes away from downtown New Bern off of Dunn and George Street.
Downtown New Bern
Single track runs right down the middle of Hancock Street then crossing Trent River Drawbridge.
New Bern Union Depot & Railway Shop
Built in 1910 the New Bern Union Depot sits at the corner of Pasteur and Queen Streets. Just 100 yards from the depot is the Railway Shop.
The city of New Bern, NC Public Safety is on a digital trunk system. As for the Norfolk Southern Railroad you can hear all the active on 160.9500 from the yard moves to communications with the dispatch.
Mystic Depot opened in 1905 located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor(NEC) at 2 Roosevelt Ave (Route 1) in Mystic, CT. Two tracks pass this historical depot, not all trains stop here because of its ground level platforms.
In the early 1960’s the train station was closed due to its poor condition. In 1976 a group of local citizens started a conversation to save the building. A year later a committee was formed and money was raised by volunteers with support from Amtrak and the state of Connecticut. In the spring of 1978 the depot was fully restored and opened to the public.
Today the depot is the welcoming center for Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce.
Rail Scanning – Amtrak Road 160.9200MHz
What to do on National Train Day?
This past National Train Day (Saturday, May 11, 2013) my wife Jodie and I were looking for a rail adventure. While I was looking for great news stories to share, I found out about the Amtrak’s Downeaster $5.00 ticket days. Saturday, May 11 was one of those days. I thought “this could be a fun adventure.” So I went on the National Train Day website to find that they had an event at Brunswick station. I booked the tickets for our rail adventure on National Train Day, all for $20 for two around trip from Haverhill, MA to Brunswick, ME. Normally the Downeaster services North Station in Boston, but due to track work service started in Haverhill, MA this weekend.
When we arrived the platform at Haverhill station was getting pretty full with families and rail buffs. Amtrak Downeaster train #691 pulled into the station right on time and we left right on time. We made our way through northeastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire, for the first leg of the trip is very much wooded. As we made our way into Maine we made our way thru coastal towns like Wells, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach. The station platform at Old Orchard Beach is only steps away from the ocean and everything OOB has to offer from quant shops to beach side amusement rides. As we made way north we passed thought Rigby Rail yard the home of Guilford and PanAm Railways. Our next stop was Portland station, which is off the main line. After stopping at Portland station to pick-up/drop off passengers and changed crews we were back-up on the main line to continue north to Freeport and Brunswick stations.
We arrived at Brunswick station to find rail/travel related vendors and a couple of operating train layouts. Parked on the secondary track by Brunswick station was two engines from PanAm. I broke out the camera and got tons of photos of Amtrak’s Downeaster and PanAm equipment. Jodie and I spent the day in Brunswick checking out the many shops along their Main Street. After a 5 hour layover we made our way back on sold-out train #698 heading south back to Haverhill.
Great ride, I would definitely do this again. The Amtrak’s Downeaster is perfect for a day or weekend get-a-way, with all the great destinations along the way. The Downeaster is great for a get-a-way but it is also used by many for commuting for college and business.
Rail Scanning on Amtrak’s Downeaster
Crew Communications 161.5200MHz
Haverhill, MA to Portland, ME Road Dispatch. 160.1600
Portland to points north Road Dispatch 160.6200
Passenger Rail Service to Return to Cape Cod
The MBTA, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, and MassDOT are teaming up to bring commuter rail service back to Cape Cod. There hasn’t been a passenger train service to the Cape in nearly two decades. Back in the mid-1980’s to mid-1990, Amtrak provided a weekend service called the CapeCoder. This summer weekend train would make its way to the Cape from New York City every Friday evening and return on Sunday. As for the passenger train service between Boston and Cape Cod, it’s been over 50 years. I’m happy to see passenger rail service returning to Cape Cod.
Starting this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer, the CapeFlyer will provide service between Boston and Cape Cod. The CapeFlyer will run out of South Station and make its way to Hyannis via the Middleboro/Lakeville Old Colony line. Trains will run round trip on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Last weekend I was able to attend the trial run of the CapeFlyer. I haven’t been on the Middleboro/Lakeville line since my college days and the on track beyond Middleboro/Lakeville station since the days of Amtrak’s CapeCoder. On the head end was MBTA MPXpress Engine #010, one of two new engines in the MBTA commuter rail fleet. Behind Engine #010 was a customized coach with storage for bicycles and a concession counter with drinks and snacks, followed by MBTA passenger coaches.
We made our way out of the busy city of Boston, though the suburbs, then into Cape Cod via the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge. As we approached Buzzard Bay, the scenery was so picturesque, just to think little over an hour ago we were in the state’s largest city, Boston.
Learn more about the CapeFlyer at http://www.capeflyer.com
Rail Fanning with a Scanner
Approaching and leaving South Station
- Amtrak Road Channel 160.9200MHz CSQ
Quincy to Middleboro/Lakeville
- Old Colony Road Channel 161.4900MHz CSQ
South of Middleboro/Lakeville Station to Hyannis
- Mass Coastal Railroad Road (Dispatch) 160.4250MHz CSQ [Repeater]*
- Mass Coastal Railroad Road (Train) 161.3850MHz CSQ [Repeater imput]*
*Make sure you program both channels the repeater signal is week west of the Cape Cod Canal