Author Topic: Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes  (Read 3563 times)

Steve Klare

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Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes
« on: May 29, 2015, 06:51:36 PM »
Of course we know that the SR&RL was pulled up (mainly) in 1936, but we should also know that nobody's perfect. It's hard to imagine they got every inch of track, everywhere. Many railroads have disused spurs that become disconnected from the main. It's hard to imagine the scrappers always being motivated enough to wade through the brush and around the trees and away from the flatcar with the ramp and winch to get a couple more lengths of rail when they have a bunch on the flatcars already and they just want to get back to town and have dinner.

Back in my Sandy River Railroad Park days. Mack Paige told me of a find they made while out prospecting. They used to go off looking for useful stuff long forgotten. Once they recovered a couple of sets of freight car wheels from Toothaker Pond, for example.

On this one day, they were looking around in the woods near Madrid Village.  Mack was walking through the leaf litter on the ground when all of a sudden he stumbled over something very solid, he had a feeling about it so he fished around with his toe about two feet further along and it happened again! He dug down and found two rails. The spikes were still there, but the ties were long gone. This "track" stretched at least a hundred feet, sort of in gauge except where the trees had made it otherwise.

They thought about trying to salvage it, but they were a long way from the road and this would be a hard carry. In the end they decided the best thing was to just leave it in place: a tiny remnant of the SR&RL.

I've heard stories of other "track" and even "switches" over on the F&M in what was once a logging yard .

Of course these are nothing compared to the fantasies that sometimes pop up of someone throwing open a shed door and finding an intact Baldwin practically ready for steam, but is interesting to think how many overlooked scraps of the SR&RL may be left today.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2015, 07:04:32 PM by Steve Klare »

Philip Marshall

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Re: Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2015, 09:53:33 AM »
Thank you for bringing this topic up, Steve. Those are some amazing finds!

Ben Rockney was telling me about the F&M track at the Spring Work Weekend. He said he hasn't seen it himself but understands it's at the end of the Soule's Mill Branch -- a bit of a hike to reach, which is probably why it's still there.

I hope that both landowners (Madrid Village and Soule's Mill) understand the significance of what they've got.

The wheelsets from Toothaker Pond (could they be from log bunks that lost their loads? The big Berlin Mills Co. sawmill was there, after all) make me wonder about not just sunken equipment but also buried equipment. The Sandy River group has the original Baldwin tender tanks from engines 16 and 18 as well as assorted handcar pieces and other bits of hardware that were dug out of the fill at the south end of the Phillips yard, and that's just from one small spot! Think of what else must be down there, both in Phillips and at other locations on the railroad. In volume 2 of Two Feet Between the Rails, Jones says something to the effect that in 1936, whatever assorted bits of SR&RL company property there were that remained unscrapped were just dumped into the Phillips turntable pit, which was then filled in. It really makes me wonder...

Pete "Cosmo" Barrington

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Re: Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2015, 01:22:55 AM »
There's a set of wheels "plinthed" in front of the (IIRC) Bigelow station building. Could these have come from Toothaker Pond?

John Stone

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Re: Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2015, 01:46:57 PM »
Wasn't the Soule's Mill branch laid with 40lb iron rail?

Ben Rockney

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Re: Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2015, 12:37:32 AM »
Hi all,
In 2005, Bob Troup, with the SR&RL group, wrote on a Yahoo discussion group, "Well, it was there in the early 1980s. You can add Chris Coyle's and my names to the list of those who saw it.  Don't know if it still exists.  No, it was not the runaround.  Clearly a stub siding that ran off at an angle away from Rapid Stream, somewhat south of the mill.  It consisted of 5 pieces of 40 pound iron still joint barred together (3 lengths on one side, two on the other, hence about 90 ft).  It is not on any map/track plan that I have seen.  I assume it was abandoned before the 1916 survey, which would explain its lack of documentation.  Probably buried in leaves/ground cover at the time of scrapping."

Last fall I walked into Soules Mill to look for the abandoned track but didn't find it.  The area is interesting to explore in any case.  The ROW is easy to find and the foundation to the saw mill and a large concrete block on which the saw rested are still there.  I didn't see a foundation in the area of the office, but there was a large pit there as well as a thick taut guy wire running along the ground that was associated with the bridge shown on the 1916 track map over the adjacent Rapid Stream.

Speaking of the track map, I have transferred that map to a Google Earth file that shows the ROW on top of the current topography.  It's very useful to get one's bearings as you walk around with a smart phone.  The alignment with the remaining structures mentioned above is perfect.  I'd be happy to send the .kmz file to anyone interested.  The line was abandoned in 1924.  As an alternative to Bob's conjecture above, it's also possible the short spur was installed between the time of drawing the 1916 map and the 1924 scrapping.

I'm tentatively planning to return on Sunday August 16th with more time, a metal detector, and a better idea of where to look after talking with Bob.

Steve Klare

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Re: Abandoned "Track" of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2015, 06:37:39 PM »
I remember in the late 1980s a couple of friends and I went up to Phillips over a weekend in the early spring. There had been some pretty spectacular flooding in the Sandy River Valley (this may be the year that the concrete bridge on Rt. 4 washed out just north of Farmington.)

We camped out in our usual spot right next to the covered bridge abutment. We noticed that there were a bunch of really old cars laying at all sorts of odd angles on the opposite bank. There was what looked like a 1920s Dodge and some Model Ts and an early 1950s Oldsmobile (-crushed but still shiny).

We asked the local guys what this was about, and they said it was rip-rap put there to help shore up the river bank though town and the current had washed the soil and brush around them away. By the time I went back, they weren't visible any more.

I have to think some railroad scrap was used the same way somewhere. I'm sure it's not restorable at all, but it's probably out there.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 06:43:37 PM by Steve Klare »