Author Topic: FS&K Route on GE  (Read 2126 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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FS&K Route on GE
« on: April 06, 2009, 01:58:58 AM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
FS&K Route on GE has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
Some formatting may have been removed or modified from the original postings that appear quoted in this topic.
Information contained within this post may be superseded by more recent postings and conversations.

Reuben Bailey wrote:
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Hello everyone.  I've just posted a very preliminary version of where I think the FS&K roadbed might have been from Farmington to New Sharon.  I have been through the area many times, but have not had an eye open for roadbed possibilities, so everything here is pretty much based on the aerial photos and the terrain as GE shows it.  I'd like to hear what everyone thinks, and if they can correct the errors that I am sure exist.  Also, any ideas on how they were going to get from New Sharon to Waterville are welcome - I haven't even started on that, other than to make the end point in Waterville.
All the Best,
Reuben

Link to posted map:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/download.php?Number=973924&t=k&om=1

Link to .kmz file (for Google Earth client program):
http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/download.php?Number=973924

James Patten replied:
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I sort of know the lay of the land around the Waterville area, having gone to college there for 5 years.

I believe that stream that empties into the Kennebec is called Messalonskee Stream.  I figured that somehow the railroad first needed to get into Waterville proper, then would likely follow the Messalonskee working its way up and out of the Kennebec river valley.  The Waterville area sits on bluffs of sorts next to the river.  The Messalonskee now has been dammed in a couple of different places, so I would assume the gully was once pretty deep and steep, separating one portion of Waterville from another.

I am much less familiar with the topography west of the interstate.

Stephen Hussar replied:
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I sort of know the lay of the land around the Waterville area, having gone to college there for 5 years.
Thanks James, I feel better now, knowing that I wasn't the only one on "the 5 year plan!" 

James Patten replied:
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Ah, but for my 5 years in school I got my Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the same time.

BM1455 replied:
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Reuben,
I'm fairly sure that your map of the FS&K is off a bit between New Sharon and Farmington.  I believe that you are following the roads too much.  Much of the ROW was out in what is now fields and woods.  I also think that the enterence to Farmington came in more through what is now the fairgraonds- not where the current roads are, and did not snake around so much in town to reach the SR&RL.  The part in New Sharon was closer to the river and behind the cemetary. I have walked it last fall.  That part of the grade is still there and is walkable.
I have a map I made on Google maps as well but I did not know how to save it, so I just printed it off before it got deleted when I left the site.
Eric.

Mike Fox replied:
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Not bad. Some places make sense. Next time I am through the area, I'll have to look some more.
Mike

Reuben Bailey replied:
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Hello Everyone.
I have updated the file in GE to reflect some of the changes mentioned above.  The links in my first post will show the new file.
Eric, the way that I have been doing this is through the Google Earth client software.  There may be some way to do it in Google Maps, although I don't know.  GE is free to download and has pretty high res pics, sometimes a little higher than the maps.  It is somewhat slow to load pictures over dialup, however.

Dana Deering replied:
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You might also get an idea as to where the FS&K route went by looking in the 1896 and 1897 Maine Railroad Commissioner's Reports.  In one of them it lists all the towns in which the FS & K applied for grade crossings.

Dana

glennstin replied:
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Hi All, Just joined and this discussion is a frequent coffee shop topic here in Smithfield.  I'll repeat an email sent to the museum and replied to by James:

To my knowledge there is no definitive route known for the route to
Farmington, beyond what was graded from Farmington to New Sharon.  The
Museum does have a discussion forum where we have postulated what the
route might have been.
James Patten
WW&F Railway Museum

Glenn Byron wrote:
> Hello, A group of us here in Smithfield, Maine have been trying to find
> a map of the proposed branch of WW&F which would have linked to the
> SR&RL at Farmington.  We have visited the old trestle site in New Sharon
> and still see some of the bed along the Sandy River.  A near as we can
> tell, the Kennebec River crossing was not finished.  Is there any
> information as to how much of the bed was done and the route it was to
> follow?  An oldtimer here in town claims he heard of someone who "Worked
> on the Railroad in Smithfield."  The route from Waterville might have
> included us in the Belgrade Lakes Region and along the way Mercer thru
> New Sharon then Farmington.  We would like to update our town history if
> there is any info available.  Thanks,  Glenn Byron,  PO Box 113,
> Smithfield,  ME. 04978

Mike Fox replied:
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Glenn,
Take a look at Rueben's maps. They make sense. Maybe this will point you to a location you might recognize and can spot some grading that had been done. If you do find anything, please let us know.
Mike

BM1455 replied:
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After looking at Reuben's updated maps I beleive his V-2.2 map is the closest.  Mostly dead on from New Sharon to Farmington, untill it gets to the the fair grounds in Farmington....then my hunch is that it would have been a bit more of a staight line than his map shows as there are no reeal topographical obstcles to force the curves that are drawn on his map.  However, this area is so obliterated with developement now it would be hard to ever know by looking at arial photos taken recently.

Reuben Bailey replied:
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Hello all,
I just updated the file for the FS&K V2 file to reflect Eric's suggestion - in looking at the ground from a low angle it became apparent that the ground is higher where the line runs now - it could be an old fill, but it is hard to tell.  Before I was trying to follow what appears to be a ravine, thinking that the line would have been climbing from the low area through it.  This way makes more sense, particularly if the low area was bridged by trestle work, which I think I have heard somewhere on these forums.  Anyhow - keep the info and ideas coming.
All the best,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Reuben

BM1455 replied:
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Reuben,
Again, I beleive that the V2 version is most accurate.  If you ever get a chance to drive along the road - Rt 27 i think - about a mile south east of the fair grounds you will see those fields that V2 goes through.  I real life they look like a RR grade.  They also line up with known ROW points that intersect with some of the side roads off the the north of Rt 27 a little further south east.
On your latest update, I would think that the ROW could have been even more direct than you have shown between the last sharp curve just east of the fiargrounds and where the V2 meets the red line near the stream to the west of the fairgrounds.  That developement was not there in the early 1900's and it appears to be quite a level area.  Why have curves if it is flat?  ...of course this is all speculation as to what it was like in that area 100 years ago but I'll bet it was a straight line coming out of that last turn that cut diagnaly through the extreme lower half of the race track and then crossing the road at a sharp angle - then plowing through those darned houses.  ...OK now I'm getting carried away.

Reuben Bailey replied:
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Eric,
it seems unlikely to me that the ROW would cut through the corner of the fairgrounds.  I don't know the age of the building that a straight line would cut through, but it doesn't seem right.  Patterns are often followed once they have been established, and property lines would have been formed by the ROW.  I do not know what level of development there was in this part of Farmington at the time of the railroad, but even if it was farm fields, the ROW would have left traces that may have been followed in later development.  I am open to being persuaded that the line did run straight, but I'm not convinced that it would have been so completely erased by the subsequent "progress."

If anyone is able to look at the tax maps there it may provide some hints.  Also the MRCR that Dana mentioned may prove helpful.  Does anyone know if this is available anywhere other than the State Archives?

I've changed the files on GE again - the links above should still work.
All the best,
Reuben

BM1455 replied:
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Reuben,
I am making the assumption that the fairgrounds, or at least the race track was not there durring the FS&K days.  Same for the housing developement, which appears to be from a much latter time.
I could be wrong on that but maybe not.
Eric.

MikeW replied:
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There may or may not be tax maps going back that far in Farmington - I have not done work in that town so I don't know.  In addition to these, I would check with the Assessor if there any "Sanborn Maps".  These were created for insurance companies for valuation purposes.  They are a tremendous source of information since they show not only property lines but also structure footprints, number of stories etc.  I have found them to be surprisingly accurate despite when they were created.  Also the town may have street or right of way maps showing the legal boundaries of streets and right of ways under public ownership.  These are usually very early documents and it is possible some clues may be found on them too.

glennstin replied:
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Hi All,  The fair dates more than 150 years.  I'm not sure of the dates and whether the location has changed, but it can be checked easily.  I know many fair association members of the Franklin County Agricultural Society and some of them go back several generations, such as The Hall Farms in East Dixfield where I grew up.  Ralph, Charlie, d**k and now his sons have all been heavily involved.  I'll talk this around as others familiar with the Farmington area can to see where it leads us.  We used to ride snowmobiles crossing the Sandy River about where the power line station is today and follow it to gain access to the old high school located on outer Middle St.  Somehow I remember a little Narrow Guage bed being involved, but I may be confusing our use of the old SR&R bed north of town.  As most know much of that bed has been preserved as snowmobile trail all over Franklin County.  Stay tuned, this topic has me wound up!   Glenn  Byron,  Smithfield, ME.

Reuben Bailey replied:
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Eric,
I think that the development you are talking about is the trailer park right behind the business that I marked. If that the case, then I would guess that you are right about it not being there then. However, I am guessing that the road between Franklin and Stanley Avenues could be the old road bed.  The other alternative that I posted is just playing around.
Glenn - I've marked where I think you are talking about crossing the river - let me know if I'm right.  It will be interesting to hear what you find out from your friends.
Mike, I'm planning on trying to get a hold of the MRCR at the State Archives, but it will probably be a while before I do.  A trip to Farmington to dig up any maps of any kind will also be in order - it will also be a while before I get to do so.

All the best,
Reuben

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/download.php?Number=973924&t=k&om=1

BM1455 replied:
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Hey Reuben,
I thinks the three track plans that you have now represent a good range as to what was likely the route.  Without maps, I doubt you will ever know for sure.  The section accross the river/ stream and closer to the SRRR junction is most likely correctly identified by the purple line as you can still see the grade when standing in the street.  This area is behind the icecream shop that we all like to go to when we visit Farmington in the summer time.

glennstin replied:
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Hi All,  The best place to research in Farmington is at the Univ. of Maine @ Farmington Library.  All the old newspapers from the whole area are there.  Let me know if anyone is working on this project in the area and maybe we can hook up.  Glenn

glennstin replied:
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Hi All,  Been down with the flu, but my buddy brought by a copy of  TWO FEET TO TIDEWATER, expanded and updated version, 2002.  First time I had seen the P. 72 map.  YES! WE came close to having a railroad in Smithfield.  Just imagaine how tiny Rome, Maine might have been the port on Great Pond. Our coffee shop, Sweet Dreams, at the junction of 137 & 225 would have been right there also.  This seems a very feasable route, although Farmington Falls looks a ways off the route.  We have this great discussion of the Falls RR Station going and I bet some photos are going to pop up soon.  I know a bunch of old timers right there and the search is on.  Any way this is the greatest book on WW&F that I've ever seen. I taking dates from here and going to UM@Farmington Library to check the microfilms.  They are the depository for all local newspapers.  That P.75 picture of the nearly completed RR Trestle @ New Sharon just haunts us as we drive Route 2 just west of Tuttle's Auto Sales and still see the ghost like abutments of more than 100 years in the past.  Keep Diggin',  Glenn

DWhittemore replied:
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Reuben,
I am making the assumption that the fairgrounds, or at least the race track was not there durring the FS&K days.
Eric.

Without knowing for certain, I would still be willing to bet that the racetrack was definitely in place when the right-of-way was being laid out. Those were the days of harness racing when a champion harness racer was as famous as Elvis and the Beatles put together. So the racetrack at Farmington would have been sacred ground and no sweet talking promoter would win any friends by trying to borrow a piece of it. I have seen several old photos of  turn of the last century races at Farmington, but without dates on them I can't be 100% of the layout.

I sure hope somebody digs up some info on the Farmington Falls station!

-Donovan

James Patten replied:
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For those that get the newsletter, Ellis Walker had an article on the FS&K in his Musings.  He used the map of the FS&K found in Two Feet to Tidewater.  The thing I found interesting was the branch lines from New Sharon to Norridgewock, Augusta, and Gardiner.  I'd always thought those were standard gauge railroads that had been already built or were proposed, although I'd never recalled a railroad being built up there.

DWhittemore replied:
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Wow, thanks for pointing that out James. I didn't realize that all those branch lines coming out of New Sharon were meant to be part of the 2 foot system. Does anyone know if there is any other record of those proposed branch lines? Looks like some thought went into the routes, like maybe some money people were in West Gardiner or Manchester to explain that odd path to Gardiner. And to think of New Sharon being such a rail hub!

Hope you're all staying warm up there in the wilds.
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum