Author Topic: Franklin, Somerset, and Kennebec Railway  (Read 2331 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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Franklin, Somerset, and Kennebec Railway
« on: April 06, 2009, 02:11:08 AM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
Franklin, Somerset, and Kennebec Railway has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
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Dana Deering wrote:
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I know there are a few FS&K afficianados out there.  I would like to start a discussion of this two footer that as Linwood Moody put it "almosted but not quited".  Anyone interested?

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Dana,  I think it is a good idea.  The FS&K is an interesting line.  Zack and I have tried to find the grade over the last 5 or 6 years.  We have only see the trestle approaches and piers at New Sharon.  The rest is still a mystery.  I would like to know where the line ran and how much was graded.  There's probably more out there that we have not seen.  If any members know of existing grade in other locations I'd like to hear about it.

Mike Fox replied:
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Stewart, in my limited time around the Farmington area, I was able to figure what little grading that was done in town is now long gone. And between New Sharon and Farmington appears to have been taken over in places by Route 2. I would like to get up there sometime and do some scouting myself. And After 100 years, the abutments in New Sharon look the same today as they do in the photos taken back then. Amazing.
Mike

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Mike,  I think you are right about Route 2 covering the FS&K grade.  I have been going to Farmington since 1998 and have never found any of it.  I think the grade would have come into town near where the Giffords Ice Cream store (or the road next to it) is.  This idea is based on the location of the original Maine Central Freight house.  This is the long building that houses the "Just Ask" rental store.  The FS&K had a legal appeal with the MCRR over the location of the building.  The FS&K wanted to move it or order to  make a direct connection with the SR&RL at the passenger station.  They lost the appeal and the building remained in it's original spot.  If you look at the allignment of the building it gives you an idea of where the FS&K mainline would have been.  As you know, the passenger station was moved closer to the river so there is no reference to the narrowgauge from it's current location.

Stewart

James Patten replied:
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I have moved this thread to the Original WW&F topic.

James

Allan Fisher replied:
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Allan Socea drew a map for Zack today that shows the ROW crossing Route 2 and skirting a cemetery and then heading for the proposed bridge crossing the river. Allan says this part of the right of way - (very close to the village of New Sharon) is still easy to find.

Stewart Rhine replied:
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I have walked all of the grade that I can find at New Sharon.  One thing to note is how narrow the grade is on top of the high fill at the north end of the bridge.  The track bed on the approach is just 5 feet wide for the entire length of the fill.  This brings some questions.  The most obvious is what size ties were to be used on the FS&K?  Five footers would have been right at the edge of the fill.  The SR&RL had some real heavy power in that era but those engines probably would not have been traveling on such an unstable fill.  The WW&F has nice wide fills in most places.  Some may have been widened with the arrival of engines 6 and 7 but most were probably built that way.  Why wasn't the FS&K built to the same standards?  It may have been the cost factor.  Maybe the idea was to get the line into operation and then upgrade as time and funds allowed.  The bridge seems to have been built to fairly high standards.  One wonders why the approaches were so narrow, even by two foot standards.

If any of you get in that area it is worth the walk to the top of the high fill to see the grade.

Joe Fox replied:
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Stewart,

There are some fills along the line North towards the Mountain from end of track that used to be only about five feet wide. Or at least they were only that wide before the excavator went through. I haven't been up there to see how different the fill and grade looks now.

Joe

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Joe,  I have walked the WW&F grade from Alna Center north to the 218 crossing 4or 5 times and I know the area you mentioned.  Yes, the high fills are narrow on top but to me the grade at New Sharon looks even narrower.  I may measure them when I go up there next week.  Another question is whether any bridge abutments or piers were built at the crossing of the Sandy River.  Since the bridge contractor completed the span at New Sharon (except for ties and rail) one would think that the next bridge would have at least been started.  I have never seen anything.  Do you know where the line would have crossed the river?

David Johnson replied:
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Stewart, it's kind of hard to tell from out here in Kansas, but would the F,S&K need to cross the Sandy River?  As I recall the railroads were on the north side of the river and that the river flowed more southerly while the F,S&K would have gone to the east.  Straighten me out on the geography.  I've seen the piers at New Sharon and Winslow, but couldn't find much else.  The Sandy River book, Two Feet Between the Rails, had a couple of photos in it of low trestles on the grounds of the school or college at Farmington and also of a single span road overpass, so it would seem that the bridge contract must have been completed at least to New Sharon.  I seem to recall that some flat or work cars were delivered to Farmington for rail laying.  Was any rail ever spiked down or am I imagining things?

Joe Fox replied:
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oh. My dad might be able to answer that question since he is all over the place driving his flat bed truck. I beleive I have seen a photo of an abutment for the F.S & K. However, I am not sure what bridge it was for.

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Joe,  Thanks for the reply.   I'm leaving for the track weekend tomorrow so if you get any info on where the bridge was (or if there was one) you can tell me then.   Each Fall I go to Phillips to check out the SR&RL progress.  I usually stop at New Sharon to look around.  I have been on the old through-truss road bridge (which is now closed to traffic) in town.  I was told the line would have crossed the river west of that bridge.  I can't see any abutments from there so if the line did cross the river, they must be down around the bend.  I plan to look at the map that Allan Socea drew for Zack, showing where FS&K skirted the cemetary, etc.   I'll walk that part if I can find it.

David,  Thanks for your input.  I have both SR&RL books and know of the photos you mentioned.  I was told the the line would have crossed the Sandy River a little west of town.   I would like to see a good map of the line with the existing town roads.  That would show the grade crossings and bridges and help my understanding of where it went.  As you said, it may not have crossed the Sandy River.

David Johnson replied:
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Jones wrote that by mid December 1898, the 9.5 miles from Farmington to New Sharon had the grading and trestle work completed.  Photos in Two Feet between the Rails, Vol. I seem to indicate that quite a bit of the work in Farmington may have been trestle work.  Since no grade crossing were allowed at Bridge, Main, and High Streets in Farmington, the line may have been elevated through most of that area.  That would account for the absence of any sign of the grade in Farmington at the present time.  Abbott School in Farmington was where the alignment went through the tennis court and resulted in legal action for damages.  In addition to those court documents, the acquisition of right-of-way should have resulted in filed documents at the courthouses.  The legal descriptions on those documents along with USGS maps should allow the location of the line to be accurately mapped out.  In addition to the line to New Sharon, Jones wrote that the 13 miles east of New Sharon had the right-of-way acquired and clearing and grubbing completed.  Is there anybody up that way that has the time or interest to do courthouse research?  The side view of the New Sharon bridge shows that at least the ties were laid on the bridge.  Jones wrote that the first rails were received in July of 1898, but he doesn't say whether they went to the FS&K or perhaps to the W&W west of Weeks Mills.  Moody in The Maine Two-Footers wrote that miles of rail were laid on the FS&K.  Does anyone know if this is true?

James Patten replied:
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It is my understanding that the Farmington trestle work seen in the photo on Two Feet Between the Rails (and possibly Two Feet to Tidewater is where McDonald's is today.

As for the top of fills being not very wide - well, they've had 100 plus or minus years of erosion that's probably worn away at them.

Mike Fox replied:
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That would make sense James. McD's is lower than route 2 headed toward New Sharon. I think when that stretch of road was rebuilt in the 50's or 60's, what was left of the grade in town Farmington was erased. I can find sections of old highway roadbed between Farmington and New Sharon but no RR grade to speak of until you get into New Sharon. As for crossing the Sandy river, I have never read about a bridge being built there. But there must have been plans for one at least. And maybe some grading to get ready for it. If no stones were placed, it might be almost impossible to find now. Sandy River in the spring is violent. I know you have seen some of the pictures. not much would stay put with water like that.
Mike

Allan Fisher replied:
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Member Gus Pratt (88 years old) visited today and says that the right of way behind the cemetery and the bridge abutments for the Sandy River bridge are easily visible. West and south of there hard to find anything.

Gus road in the cab of #24 the last week of regular train service on the F&M section of the SR&RL, and rode the cab of #18 on the scrap train.

ETSRRCo replied:
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WOW he would have been my age when he did that. OOO what I would give to just SEE the 24. Anyway what do you all think would have happened to our beloved two footers if the FS&K had been built. One interesting view I had never thought of before was brought to my attention about a year ago. The three railroads would have become very profitable. The MEC would have moved in, took them over and probable standard gauged them and we wouldn't have anything left. It would have definitely changed the future of the two footers that's for sure.

Mike Fox replied:
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If the FS&K would have been completed, it would have been a bridge route. Where they were headed had no industry to aid in income. Would have been a hard life I think.

petecosmob replied:
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I was studying online map and photo sites and discovered something quite odd...
there are not one, but TWO WEEKS MILLS!  Miles apart from each other, but if FS&K had been completed, each would have had a 2'er running through it!
What would that have done to passenger schedules?
Would one town have changed it's name, or would the stop at the more northerly Weeks Mills be called something like "West New Sharon?"
One can only ponder!
Cosmo

Dana Deering replied:
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No doubt the FS&K would have become an important bridge route but it could have opened up some industry along its proposed trackage.  There was pulp mill at Farmington Falls (where an FS&K station was actually built) that would have provided a source for traffic in both directions.  With the connection to Wiscasset and the waterfront, who knows?  I think it would have been more profitable than the Wiscasset to Albion run.

Dana

Bill Sample replied:
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Can you imagine seeing a FS&K train crossing the mighty Kennebec River on what would have been one of the more spectacular 2-footer bridges?
Time for some of our more imaginative artists out there to paint that scene, complete with a MeC train passing beneath.

ETSRRCo replied:
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No question it would have been busier then the Albion route I personally think that Weeks Mills to Albion would have been abandoned. Think about it. If the FS&K had been built this would have made a direct connection between the forest lands of Franklin County with a deep water port. This would have made it possible to completely bypass the Maine Central. During the boom years of the SR&RL they hauled thousands of loads of freight (enough to fill 6,000 standard gauge cars in 1919) that probable would have been hauled down the FS&K to the WW&F to Wiscasset. This would have changed Wiscasset to. The port would have been much busier and would have to have been bigger. Now this is just my opinion on it but I think a pretty probable outcome. The FS&K wouldn't have really needed any industries on their line with all the traffic going between the SR&RL and the WW&F.

-Eric

Dana Deering replied:
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Hey Guys,

I've been doing a lot of research about the "Old Star", the Mogul that eventually became the SR&RL #16, and what I have found leads me to believe that the FS&K and not the W&Q bought, or at least made attempts to buy, the locomotive and three flatcars from the defunct Laurel River & Hot Springs RR.  There is anectdotal evidence that at least one of the flatcars was used to lay some rail on the FS&K.  The locomotive was stored at Wiscasset for a time but when the FS&K bubble burst it went to the Portland Co. for storage.  This was around 1897 and it was not until 1900 that the Sandy River scooped it up for a song.  Can you imagine that Mogul rolling over the Kennebec River bridge with a freight bound for Wiscasset?  Wow, what we just missed.
Speaking of the bridge it is my understanding that the WWF Railway Museum once owned the orignal drawings for the Kennebec River Bridge and they disappeared.  Any idea what happened to them?

Dana

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Mike, Joe and everyone,  The WW&F team made the annual trip to Phillips again this Fall.  This time Zack, Marcel, Eric and I spent more time looking around New Sharon and Farmington.   We discovered a number of places where you can see the grade.  Here's what we found:

(1)Go to the back of the cemetary at New Sharon.  Go to the right corner and walk down over the hill about 50 feet.  You will find the grade running through the woods along the back side of the cemetary.   It continues North about 400 feet until it gets near where it crossed a town road.  In this area the grade has been lost to regrading.  We also tried following the grade going South from the cemetary but it goes into an area where new fill was pushed from the top of the hill covering the grade.

(2) Go to the Giffords Ice Cream store in Farmington.  Park behind the store and walk North on the road towards the location of the former MCRR freight house.  As the road begins to climb, look to your right.  There is a newer building up on the hill.  Where it's driveway comes out is where the grade crossed the road you are standing on.  You can see part of the grade cut into the embankment below this new building.  The grade runs South along side of the hill and goes behind the Cumberland Farms store.  There is probably about 100 feet of the grade in the brush at this location.  Note: that this is a correction from what I said before.  The grade was NOT where the road is next to the McDonalds.  Stand at the location where the grade comes out from the hillside and look North towards the freight house.  You can see the top of the roof in the distance.  You will see that the road is higher and another building has been built where the grade would have been.   We do know that the railroad was being built South from this location but we do not know exactly where the track started.  This is because the MCRR owned the land around the freight house and would not have allowed the FS&K to build on their land.  The station lot would have extended south from the structure aways.

I hope this helps.  Happy hunting and let me know if you guys find bridge abutments at the Sandy River.  You may be able to see more now that  the hardwoods are bare.

Stewart

Mike Fox replied:
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My screen saver was just working and one of the photos on the screen was of Farmington Falls. Looked like the mill Dana had spoke of earlier along with the covered bridge that was right next to it. Anyone know of any photos out there of that? I am going to check Images of America to see if they have produced something for that area.
Mike
Ed Lecuyer
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