Author Topic: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?  (Read 2437 times)

Glenn Christensen

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How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« on: December 01, 2016, 09:32:56 PM »
Hi Guys,

Am intimately familiar with the "hike-ability" of the B&SR right-of-way (at least as of about 5 years ago) and have Bill Reidy's 2007 WW&F tour guide, but I am less current with the status of the others. 

Assuming I know nothing (which may be true), can you guys bring me up to date?


Thanks and Best Regards,
Glenn

Philip Marshall

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 11:46:38 PM »
Hi Glenn,

There is a lot of hikeable ROW to explore in Franklin County on the SR&RL, and particularly on the Phillips & Rangeley which is almost completely intact. In fact, much of it is even accessible by car. I've hiked up Sluice Hill from Perham Junction twice in the last 4 or 5 years and it's a beautiful walk through some still quite wild country.

The first few miles north of Phillips are mostly private property, but you can pick up the grade at Madrid Station/Madrid Junction on the shore of Toothaker Pond, and then drive as far as Reeds (going around the famous s-curve of the Devil's Elbow). From a little past the Reed's Mills Road grade crossing as far as Sanders (more or less) the ROW is a foot trail only (closed to vehicles), but north of there it's accessible by car again from Perham Junction. (You can drive into Perham Junction by heading north out of Phillips on East Madrid Road, and then cutting over on the Barnjum Branch, which you will find marked as either Barnjum Road or Potato Hill Road.) North of Perham Junction you're climbing the legendary Sluice Hill grade, which was an almost religious experience for me the first time. :) I chose to leave my car at Perham Junction and continue on foot, but it's driveable for the first couple of miles at least before the washouts get too deep. The Appalachian Trail crosses the ROW right at the summit of Sluice Hill, so there is the potential for a much longer hike there should you choose. Past Sluice Hill is the US Navy property in Redington which you're not supposed to enter, but the grade continues all the way through to Rangeley and can be accessed from the other end.

-Philip
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 12:25:58 AM by Philip Marshall »

James Patten

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2016, 12:47:41 AM »
Kennebec Central is, I believe, mostly hikeable.  I know the Friends group (Friends of the Old Volunteer Trail?) maintains the ROW from Rt 27 north past the next road crossing.  I think that the right of way continues north to near Togus without any buildings in the way, but I don't know about legal ownership or swamp reclamation.

Bill Baskerville

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2016, 05:33:59 AM »
In 2007 when my brother and I were hiking the Rangeley area sections of the AT, we were hiking from ME4 to ME27.  We got to our planning camping spot early and foolishly decided to hike a few more hours while there was daylight.  We thought, surely we will find a flat spot where we can stealth camp.   Well there are no flat spots anywhere in that area.  It was almost dark when we crossed Orbeton Stream and climbed up to, and discovered the SR&RL road bed, which was well used by ATV traffic.  Needless to say, we were happy to find, and camped on the ROW.  Where the AT crosses the SR&RL is a really beautiful spot, but rough hiking on the AT.  Walking the old ROW is much easier.

Interestingly, the AT map doesn't show the ROW.  Google Maps list the ROW in that section as Railroad Rd, and further North as Navy Road. 

What does the Navy use that section of the Maine woods for?

Bill
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 05:46:25 AM by Bill Baskerville »

Philip Marshall

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2016, 08:40:25 AM »
Interestingly, the AT map doesn't show the ROW.  

Bill, I'm happy to report that the current edition of the Appalachian Trail Guide to Maine identifies the ROW there as being the SR&RL and even includes a little paragraph on the history of the railroad.

James Patten

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2016, 02:02:10 PM »
Last I heard the Navy uses the Redington property for survival training.

A few years ago one of the Museums (I forget if it was Maine Narrow Gauge or SR&RL) got permission to visit the property.  It was in one of their newsletters.

Bill Baskerville

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2016, 03:05:16 PM »
James, Thanks.

A little north of Orbeton Lake is where Railroad road becomes the "Navy Road".  There is an intersecting road that goes NE from there.  Does anyone know if the intersecting road is another old ROW of the SR&RL or is an old fire road, or a road the Navy built?

Bill

Glenn Christensen

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2016, 03:11:52 PM »
Thanks for helping guys!

It's great that the old P&R grade is still passable and that the Barnjum branch is still driveable. My recollection is that the main stem of the SR&RL, between Farmington and Phillips, was pretty much overgrown.  (Pretty ironic actually.  In it's day it was probably the most heavily traveled 2-foot route in North America.)  The F&M was pretty much overgrown too, although I do seem to recall a worn path on the old ROW heading north from Starbird's.  I don't know how far north it went from there or even if it is still passable.

I do know the old K&DR ROW is now a very nice trail for most of it's length up to and including Bigelow station.  I don't know anything about the current status of the Eustis or Madrid grades.

I likewise don't know the current status of the old Monson mainline south of Monson to the Junction, but I've heard that the quarry branches are still open.  I think I remember seeing a path on the old KCRR going south from Togus, but don't recall anything beyond what James has already mentioned.

Does anyone have any more info?


Thanks,
Glenn

James Patten

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2016, 05:05:29 PM »
I think I recall reading that Navy Road was built on or very near the SR&RL grade.

Regarding the Monson mainline, I know that some of it is Central Maine Power right of way for high tension power lines, the poles are right on top of the grade, which at least immediately south of Monson station area is slate fill.  The poles will make putting the track back a mite difficult.

Glenn Christensen

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2016, 10:31:14 PM »
Nonsense!

Polish people will gladly move if you ask them nicely ...

Grins,
Glenn

Ira Schreiber

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2016, 12:14:42 AM »
Five years ago, or so, I drove a charter bus from Brunswick NAS to the Reddington  Naval Training facility. The entrance was opened for the bus and I drove for several miles on what was obviously the old railroad grade. We came to a road intersection and all the men were unloaded at that spot. I then turned around and drove the same route back to Portland.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 12:16:39 AM by Ira Schreiber »

Philip Marshall

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2017, 04:14:19 AM »
As a follow-up to this conversation on current conditions and ease of access to right of way, I want to mention that some time ago I posted "then and now" photo comparisons from my October 2015 exploration on the SR&RL (Sluice Hill on the P&R, plus the lower part of the Barnjum Branch) on the Narrow Gauge Railroad Discussion Forum. The photos are too big to share here so I will provide URLs.

Sluice Hill:
http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read.php?1,299961

Barnjum Branch:
http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read.php?1,305818

These should provide some idea of what the ROW looked like as of about 15 months ago.

Glenn Christensen

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2017, 07:26:42 PM »
Hi Phillip,

Thank you so much for your follow up and your effort in matching the photo locations.  Since my last post I've re-read Moody's account off his own latter day explorations published in the new addendum of the most recent printing of "Maine Two Footers."  Both his and your trips remain fairly timely. 

Do you have any photos of Madrid Jct. or the F&M below Salem?

Philip Marshall

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Re: How much MTF right-of-way is hike-able?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2017, 09:27:22 PM »
Hi Glenn,

I haven't had a chance to explore much of the F&M yet I'm afraid, but here is a now-and-then comparison of Toothaker Pond at Madrid Station/Madrid Junction (which were almost the same place -- MP 23.17 and MP 23.46, respectively). The "now" picture was taken in July 2014 and is looking south toward Phillips.

-Philip