Author Topic: New FS&K Info  (Read 7036 times)

Glenn Byron

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New FS&K Info
« on: March 27, 2009, 02:56:54 PM »
Hi, Yesterday I went to UMF Library in Farmington where all local newsprint is on microfilm and hit PAYDIRT.  I had previously been searching 1900-1901 for info on FS&K work. Rereading Moody's "Maine Two Footers" It seemed that the work started earlier.  I started in the Farmington Chronicle 1897-98 box and there it is. First item I found was Thursday February 25, 1897.  A full column about the "Proposed Franklin, Somerset and Kennebec Railroad". This is in the pre building stage and trying to drum up interest in the project before town Meetings.  I was able to find about 15 entries in the Chronicle thru July 1, 1897. During this period several towns were asked to approve the idea as well as the Maine Legislature. This is very tedious work as the microfilm is hard to read and the copies I don't believe are scanable. But for a RR history buff, this is the Mother Lode! Not just news items, but local gossip from town corrospondents.  All this gives us a real look at what was going on.  I have never found much previously written history of this ill-fated venture. I can write it, but it will take a while.  We need to continue thru the years 1897-1898 and maybe more.  Town Reports of Waterville, Oakland, Smithfield, Rome, Mercer, New Sharon and Farmington need to be checked. Other newspapers have more, I'm sure. There has to be a lot of info out there if we can find it, but at least now we have a starting point.  My old eyes were toast after four hours, but I've started a folder and will be back for more.  Cost is almost nothing as UMF charges 10 cents a copy, but as I said I don't think they are scanable.  They will have to be retyped and my skills include the Columbus Method.  If anyone else finds this of interest, get with me and let's go for it.

Matt Latham

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 06:17:53 PM »
Glenn,
 This is very interesting to me. While I am remote from Maine, (Live in Texas), if there anything I can do to help, please let me know. While I am not a speed typist, I am slightly faster than the Columbus method. Spell-checker lets me type fast and correct the spelling later.  ;D
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Allan Fisher

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2009, 10:45:37 PM »
Life Member and former WW&F Curator Jim Bergmann's new book on the WW&F and Alna, Maine, which I am now in the process of editing with Jim, has some interesting new info from local newspapers of the time at the WW&F end of this proposed railroad. I am shooting for a publication date before the Annual Picnic in August. Finished Book will be about 100 pages with 70 pages of text and 30 to 40 pages of photos from the WW&F Archives. More later.
Allan Fisher

John Kokas

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2009, 08:04:53 PM »
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't some grading work started on this route?  If so it would be very enlightening to find articles, pictures, or other records detailing this.  Would make a really neat expedition to find remnants of this.
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Mike Fox

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2009, 11:43:19 PM »
Yes. Several miles were graded and in town Farmington was elevated on trestle work to have minimal street crossings. While this was a great idea at the time, it left no evidence of where the track truly went through Farmington. There used to be a ramp built of dirt at one end but I think by now it is gone. If I recall correctly, there is a picture of the fill, trestle work and a bridge in New Sharon in Jones' book Two Feet Between the Rails.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 12:49:21 AM by Mike Fox »
Mike
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Glenn Byron

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2009, 02:03:17 PM »
Hello again,  I just purchased a second copy of the 1976 book, "The Falls: Where Farmington Began in 1776" by Natalie Butler, which I am donating to the WW&F Museum.  In it, on page 18, is a picture of the trestle over Main Street Farmington on the way to the MCRR/SRRL Rail Yard.  This would be just past the present location of the Cumberland Farms Store.  According to Linwood Moody's first edition book (1959) the problems developed as FS&K tried to get approval to come into the MCRR Yard which would be less than a quarter mile westward where they would connect to the Sandy River and Rangely Lakes Narrow Guage.  MCRR denied access and FS&K Directors did not fight the decision.  Again, as in Burnham, they built railbed before they had permission and effectively killed the whole project.  Moody even wondered why they did not route a little north and connect to SRRR outside the MCRR Yard.  This book has a wonderful biography section on Leonard Atwood, the major player in the ill fated FS&K venture.  Also on page 19 is a copy of a painting of the Farmington Falls Railroad Station, all finished and waiting for the first train (Which never Arrived!).  The original of this painting hangs in The Titcomb House across from the Farmington Public Library and maintained by The Farmington Historical Society.  The Falls Station location was on what is now called the Mason Rd. right near the New Sharon Town Line and maybe a quarter mile from the F. Falls Village.  I'm anxious to get back to the old newspapers for another taste of this.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 09:26:42 PM by Glenn Byron »

Glenn Byron

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2009, 12:12:17 AM »
Update Again:  I've scanned all 16 Farmington Chronicle articles from Feb. to July 1, 1897 and sent them to Allan Fisher to be sure everything  is included in the new book.  Even though the microfilm copies were of poor quality, the scans are usable.  My computer skills are very limited and this has been a great learning experience.  I hope Allan can find a way to share some of this material and  hope to get back to UMF to get some more.  Today I visited the Oakland Library, but came up empty on FS&K info. They recomended Colby College. I know there is more info available in records of The Maine Legislature who approved the FS&K proposal in the 1897 Session.  It would seem that many organizations such as the Grange would have had speakers in preparation for the Town Meetings in towns along the proposed route.  We need some help here.  DIG, DIG, DIG.  Let's be sure the new book has anything not previously uncovered.  
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 09:25:27 PM by Glenn Byron »

Glenn Byron

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 07:29:14 PM »
Update Again. I've assembled a FS&K folder-three ring binder and keep adding pages as I visit UMF Library.  Can't seem to get much done during the summer season, but have managed to get thru 1897 and up to 3/31/1898.  The railbed is all established from Farmington to New Sharon.  During the winter of 1897-98 the granite was cut mostly from Cape Cod Hill in New Sharon and moved to the various trestle locations including the one we still see over Muddy Brook beside Route 2 in New Sharon.  A Farmington Falls local character has told me he will take me to another trestle location along the route.  Just a few sample postings:  Farmington Chronicle, 3/17/1898, Farmington News-"At the office of the FS&KRR in this village we took notice of a sample of the steel rails to be used on the line.  They are extra heavy for a narrow guage and every joint is fastened with six bolts, making the track very firm and smooth running."  A contract for furnishing railroad ties was signed and work delivering those ties along the railbed is progressing according to the Chronicle 3/31/1898.  Also a 2/24/1898 report noted: " A few days ago from ten to fifteen large teams were employed hauling granite from the Chesterville and Cape Cod quarries and distributing it all along the lines from Farmington to New Sharon for culverts and bridges.  The great trestle which is to cross Central Bridge and Main Streets (near Little Blue school grounds), to be 1000 feet long has all been sawed out and framed this winter at Farmingon Falls. Before spring opens all the trestles will have been framed and be ready to set up, and as the snow disappears the new railroad will rapidly develop."  Enthusiasm is rampant in the area during the spring of 1898 and lots of money is being spent. Exactly whose money is flying around is not clearly stated but I have not seen any ad selling shares as yet.  Farmington voted some money, but stipulated it be paid when the first train ran on a schedule. I have discovered facts previously unpublished, at least in any sources I've seen, which I'll not include here.  I'm still trying to get interested partners going on this project and hope someday a booklet will tell the real story of the FS&K.  Probably I'm in the same boat Leonard Atwood was in 110 years ago.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 09:30:40 PM by Glenn Byron »

John McNamara

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 08:49:29 PM »
Glenn,
I recently started using a computer program called "Dragon Naturally Speaking 10.0". I bought it from Amazon.com for about $55. It is a text to speech program where you just sit and speak into a microphone and the text appears on the screen. It seems to work very well. I was wondering whether something like this might be of use to you in compiling your information about the Franklin, Somerset, and Kennebec. By the way, this posting was generated using the program; I never touched the keyboard except to hit the reply button, the preview button,and the post button.
John

Glenn Byron

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2009, 01:52:05 AM »
Hi John,  Thanks for the info.  Sounds pretty far out for a computer illerate senior, but would be a real advancement to the Columbus method of typing.  This business of an old car guy doing railroad duty is very far fetched, but so far the volunteer engineers are way back in the caboose playin' cards.  To have a novice's hand on the throttle following a gas lantern is cause for alarm down the track.  I'm from the other team, a volunteer of the Stanley Museum in Kingfield, Maine.  We are the competition, studying twin brothers FE & FO Stanley as they try to downsize steam power for use off the rails in 1897-98.  In fact we have this great story of a race from Farmington to Kingfield between a SR&RL RR train and a Stanley Steamer.  For details just email our historian, Jim Merrick,  Jimmerrick@stanleymuseum.org  .  The fate of railroad development was already in the cards by 1897-98, but history takes a while.  The $$$$ freight was slipping away early in the twentieth century and the way of life changed rapidly.  Businesses no longer inventoried months in advance, and found truck deliveries could cut expenses.  Today JIT (JUST IN TIME) is a given and no one keeps product on the shelf with dust on it.  All that saves railroad in our world today is intermodal transportation of semi trailers cross country and government subsidies.   Every other aspect of railroading is a side-line.  It is interesting beyond belief to study these old newspapers with exciting news of the Klondike in Alaska, Mckinley as our president, the sinking of the Maine in Cuba, the anticipation of a new railroad connection to the outside world, right along with bankruptcy auction advertisements for the failure of the narrow gauge north of Farmington. We get to peek at history in the making, knowing the final score.  Today we've taken another step as government intervenes with subsidies in the automobile industry. Is HISTORY repeating?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2009, 02:50:00 PM by Glenn Byron »

John McNamara

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Re: New FS&K Info
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2009, 04:18:57 AM »
Hi Glenn! While a comparison of railroad track maps today versus 80 years ago is very discouraging, I saw a chart just today showing that in terms of ton-miles, railroads in 2007 exceeded all previous years, including the years of World War II. The low point was during 1960. In fact, in terms of ton-miles, railroads exceed trucks.

A major part of today's freight traffic is the hauling of coal, particularly from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming/Montana, where the mainline is being expanded to four tracks in some places! According to wikipedia.com, "Presently more than eighty train loads of coal, which vary in size from 125 to 150 cars, are shipped from southern Powder River Basin mines each day."

As for cars and history repeating itself, I find it interesting that interest in electric cars is rising once again. Wait until you see the new Baker Electric SUV   :).

Who knows, we may even see a return to steam cars, so it's good to see that the Stanley Museum is keeping track of the technology.

John