Author Topic: Edaville's Track  (Read 3395 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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Edaville's Track
« on: June 23, 2009, 01:08:47 AM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
Edaville's Track has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
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mwmoulison wrote:
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I was wondering a few things.  First of all I know it is said that Ellis Atwookd surveyed the tracks himself.  Were they ever moved or altered between the time Ellis put them down and the developement of Mt. Urann in 2005?

Also, does anyone have any idea if Edaville plans on constructing a bigger loop in the future?  It seemed that originally they were only going to cut our .5-.75 of a mile by travelling closer to the bogs and cut back into the old mainline at the racetrack.  Is this ever going to happen or is Edaville stuck with the somewhat dissapointing 1.5 mile loop?  I for one will always miss the longer ride through the bogs.

-Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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In early issues of the "Bogger" (published by Ellis D. Atwood and edited by Linwood W. Moody), construction of the railroad is reported as it happened. Atwood is credited with doing the survey work.

Construction was initially begun by his cranberry workers, later done under the guidance of retired railroad men having experience in track construction...lining, leveling, grading, etc.

The basic 5 1/2 mile loop of original mainline was pretty much unchanged from the "golden spike" ceremony in 1947 to recent removal of mainline trackage from (roughly) MP-2 to a point where the new and shorter loop rejoins the original alignment. Several sidings and spurs have been removed however. Today a new version of "Peacedale" is near the site of the former grade of the original alignment.

If one considers the many changes that have taken place since Edaville closed in 1992 and current day, what has emerged is now a relatively new business with a following from years past.

The new business is managed by two long time Edaville Railroad employees. They are leasing the operation from the property owner who is the remaining partner of a threesome that came onto the property in 1999 after earlier groups and volunteer organizations kept the railroad in viable condition. Two of the partners retired after approximately five years of activity in reopening the park.

As a new business venture, todays Edaville is getting its house in order. Give them time to consider reopening the remaining section of original mainline and constructing extensions elsewhere.

The current track loop is two miles in length and works well with present operations.

I will say that I share your disappointment with the shorter train ride, but I also understand the business decisions that have led to this arrangement.

It was not the intent of Edaville to install this track loop, but a decision that had to be made when the detour planned around former trackage at Mount Urann could not be made promptly by State and local agencies involved in oversight. A lengthy permitting process and costly environmental impact study forced the park to install the shorter track loop.

Interestingly, this same track loop was used in the early 1960's when a bad washout occured at Guard Rail Curve (MP-2) just prior to the season opener and something quick had to be done to provide limited train ride service. After that storm damage had been repaired, the original main was once again in full operation.

Mount Urann is lost forever now though, the grade bull-dozed and a row of new houses installed right on the old alignment. Mr. Atwood's ballfield has been built on as well. One wonders if ghostly sounds of laboring lilliputs or cheering ball field crowds can be heard at night, when the winds are just right for such things...

mwmoulison replied:
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Thanks for your detailed response, Bruce.

The loss of Mt. Urann and the ballpark is sad, but I was prepared to live with a 4 mile trip.

I'm an engineer at MNG from Massachusetts and I visit Edaville at least once every year.

One of the things that bothers me most is that the lilliputs are losing territory!  With MNG down to a slightly longer than 1 mile track (and nowhere to expand) and Edaville now cut down, it seems that they are losing some luster.  I have dragged friends and family to all of these places and they all feel that the rides are too short.  It hurts our appeal to non-railfans who want a nice interesting ride.

I have run #3 in the woods up in Phillips, but even they have only .6 miles of track.  It is sad when you get passed by the joggers on the trail. 

It is up to WW&F to give them a home where they can stretch their legs a bit!  I am always optimistic that Edaville will extend the tracks out around the bogs once again.

Who knows what's in store.

best,

-Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Mike,

Your posting has really caught my attention and given me a chance to consider what you have said, "who knows what's in store".

Overall. my question is (from your posting), are the lilliputs losing territory? And I'm expanding the subject from what you have intended, I'm going out to both two footer membership and two footer mileage.

Two footer membership, and those who have active involvement in preservation...let's look at that for a moment. Look at all the guys who are involved at Sheepscot. Some of them came there without any background in railroading at all, or any prior involvement in narrow gage. I think of guys like Fred and Vern for example, and some of the younger men who are helping and learning...building their interests in narrow gage.

I think we are at least holding a steady interest, considering many of the older hands lost in the past ten years. I don't believe we are losing ground if a head count were to be taken. There is a following at Portland and at Phillips, Boothbay too.

Two footer mileage is a tough one. What constitutes a real two footer? Were (now closed) operations like Steam Village (Gilford, New Hampshire), Frontier Town (Adirondacks, New York), Pleasure Island (Wakefield, MA) etc. ever considered two footers? Is the narrow gage steam operation at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire a "two footer". How many guys help out at Loon Mountain, how many run Henschel's or Orenstein & Kopple steamers, or Plymouth, Buda or Brookville two footer critters around the U.S.?

There are quite a few guys doing private operations in their back yards. I wrote a while ago in this forum asking about Hum Reynolds and his 900' long two foot "Sunnyside Central".

MNG in Portland has a mile of track where in 1992, there was none. Edaville has lost 2 1/2 miles of the original main. A mile and then some is still in place but out of service. They may spike in a new route at some time in the future. Albion has some rail down now, Phillips has grown tremendously since Wes Spear first began laying 16lb. steel. Boothbay has grown also, and built a first class operation.

True, that the W.W. & F. Ry. Museum shows the best growth potential.

Do we accept only what we have now, or do we dare dream of narrow gage rails being laid on Bridgton Junction again, or at other two foot sites?

I think the best days are ahead for two foot preservation. We can fine tune what we have, build replicas and bring in new people.

I've seen your postings within the Edaville discussion forum Mike. I've seen you asking for help with track work at MNG. You are one of the guys who will help two foot grow.

Those joggers who passed you in Phillips, will be back to ride with you another day. And so will their friends and family.

We'd all better get ready to handle the crowds...!

Dave Buczkowski replied:
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Bruce;
Don't forget the 600+ feet and counting of rail laid at the Billerica & Bedford in Bedford, MA. #3 even visited for the 125 Anniversary of the railroad. We hope to lay more this year now that the fire hydrant is out of the way.
Dave

Bill Sample replied:
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Very well stated, Bruce.
Back in the late 1980s I visited the Welsh Highland Ry (1964 Co.) at Portmadoc.   When hearing my Yank accent, one of the volunteers started asking me questions about the Sandy River and mentioned that the Maine Two Footers were known of.  I wish I had more that I could have told him, but I was just in the beginning stages of "two-foot fever" then.  Hopefully that individual was able to keep track of the tremendous strides of two footer revival in Maine that has happened since that time.

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Dave,

Please excuse me for neglecting to include the Friends of Bedford Depot Park project, the recreation of a portion of the Billerica & Bedford Railroad. I'm ashamed, as I not only am aware of that work, but I am a life member of the FOBDP and hope to one day bring my (former Edaville) velocipede out to have on display at a future open house there.

Bill,

In reading your post, I wonder at what stage the Brecon Mountain Railway is with their work in replicating S.R. & R.L. equipment? When I worked as membership secretary for the W.W. & F. Ry. Museum in the mid-90's, I had correspondence with that group and mailed them an envelope of John Derr drawings (of S.R. & R.L. equipment) that was given to me by Bob Werner for the purpose of sharing.

Bill Sample replied:
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Bruce, I just checked their web site and didn't find anything new, so I sent them an e-mail requesting an update.  I'll post an update when I hear from them.

Wayne Laepple replied:
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Bruce, further down you'll find a listing for other two-footers, such as those in Wales. There is a thread for the Brecon Mountain Railway, and there are some excellent photos and a link to their site. I've exchanged several e-mails with one of their guys, Tony Hill, who described good progress on their replicas of SR&RL no. 10 and no. 24.

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Thank you Wayne...

I did find the section you referred me to and have checked it out. I appreciate your help.

Stephen Hussar replied:
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Just a photo I ran across of the severed Edaville mainline at Mt Urann. The picture really needs no description.

_________________
*                *                    *                   *
"Give me enough Swedes and whiskey and I'll build a railroad to Hell."
- James J. Hill

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Steve,

Sad photo, indeed.

For the benefit of other readers, where the white truck is parked, was the former station platform...once the main entrance to Edaville and later referred to as "Ball Park".

Where the rail ends in the photo, was the beginning of the 1% grade up Mt. Urann. The curve leading to the grade was a momentum killer for longer and heavier trains, those with eight or nine cars.

When Edaville purchased the current fleet of Hamilton built rolling stock, the full profile wheels and flanges, caused a sort of car retarder situation through this curve. The 24 1/2" gage still resulted in the flanges creating a drag on any consist hauled through. Once free of the drag of that curve, most all momentum gained in approaching that curve was lost. Then it was a horsepower battle up the hill. Wheelspin was always a concern as was overloading the traction motors on the G.E. diesel.

Atwood's many curves and grades certainly made operations interesting, especially in wind and weather conditions.

Thanks for posting the photo Steve...

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Yes, a VERY sad photo ... I didn't know that the remaining track got that close to the development.  Bruce, does this mean that Edaville still owns the land up to where the track ends?  Its tough to see any railroad right of way get built over, especially a famous place like Edaville.  I sure wish I had gotten there to ride the original loop.

Stephen Hussar replied:
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Same location, but a close-up of the railhead leading to Mt Urann...


Lonely whistle post


Tie pile aftermath

_________________
*                *                    *                   *
"Give me enough Swedes and whiskey and I'll build a railroad to Hell."
- James J. Hill

Bill Sample replied:
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I sometimes wonder how sad it must have been to see the Maine two-footers die - Jones' description of the last days of the SR&RL stick out in my mind.
Missing that era entirely, I grew up on occasionally riding Edaville starting in 1958.  Rode the cushions, later a few times in the cab.  Saw Edaville decline in the 80s, helped with the mass evacuation to Portland on one of the days the cars were loaded onto the antique trucks.  One more time to Edaville, for Fred Richardson's surprise birthday.  That will be my last time.
Now, after seeing the above photos, I have a better idea how Linwood Moody and the other fans felt as their favorite two-foot haunts faded away.
My sympathy goes to the fans but even more so to Bruce Wilson and the others who worked there and knew it best of all.

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Steve,

I'm not certain of exactly where the Edaville property line is today. I'm going to offer two guesses, and say (no. 1) that the property ends at the old sawmill display in the section known as "The Woods" and guess (no. 2) will be that it ends at current end of track at a point known as "Guard Rail Curve".

My reason for offering two theories is that at one time, I was told that the line might terminate at the sawmill and a wye track constructed, along with a picnic grove. Edaville history buffs will recall that it was in "the woods", where the golden spike was driven by Ellis & Elthea Atwood, guests and track crew members. Also at this point was a short-lived trailing point spur track approximately 300' in length. The grading for this long-gone siding is still in place and was used by track crews (under Cranrail management) in 1999 and later for machine access to the woods trackage. If one additional leg of the proposed wye grade was installed, the rail and ties could be laid out with relative ease. One issue surely would have been swamp land involved in grading the new railbed, and perhaps this is why the idea never went forward.

When rail was ultimately severed at (approximately) MP-2 (near the signal at Guard Rail Curve), this would have created a two mile train trip from the Edaville station to end of track. A reverse move back to the (new junction switch) at Cranberry Valley would add another mile and one half. From the new junction switch, it is approximately another mile and one half until passengers are returned to the Edaville station platform for an approximate total mileage of five miles.

I continue to hold out hope that current Edaville management will re-open all trackage for special events, and have the longer mileage train ride and the nice excursions along the reservoir again.

Now to Bill's comments...

As he has stated, we can understand how Linwood Moody and others felt as the two footers were abandoned. I appreciate Bill's kind words about how I must feel, I am humbled by them. So many posting on this discussion forum are both eloquent and sentimental, it is therefore a pleasure to read the on-going threads.

As I consider how I feel about Edaville, and I literally grew up there, it is my continuing wonder as to what the fans of narrow gage (past and present) must have felt then, or feel today.

I think of modern day fans such as the guys behind volunteer efforts that sought to re-open Edaville in the post George Bartholomew ownership era. There were several and they put their heart and soul into it.

And I think of what men like Fred Richardson and Peter Correia must feel. These men ran Edaville during and following the F. Nelson Blount days, the days of Freedomland, Pleasure Island, and Steamtown.

My own thoughts are that we need to preserve not only the history of the Maine two footers during their actual period of operation, but the histories of the fans who captured images on film, drew plans on paper, wrote personal recollections, or the guys who saved equipment from the scrap heap.

I remember the joy on Carl Wiggin's face when he joined Harry Percival for a short model T railcar ride at the W.W. & F. Ry. Museum, when our main line was about 1,000' in length. Carl recalled to me that he had his last ride on the railroad in 1922 or 1923. Carl lived through the demise of the railroad, and to see it reborn. Likewise with Lawrence Brown. He'd photographed W.W. & F. Ry. no. 9 being loaded in Wiscasset for trucking to W. Thompson, Ct. He'd seen the scrapping of the line, and he became a member of the museum to help in the rebuilding.

So, I wonder if Linwood is watching with pipe in hand. In his mind, perhaps he is recollecting the fires of Howland's Pit and the flames that took the car shop in Wiscasset. He's probably wondering too, what happened at his beloved Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad.

But...I believe Moody's got a fresh plug of tobacco in hand and a feeling of optimism as he surveys all the new blood involved in two foot and even the standard gage crew over in Unity on the B & ML.

I'm going to follow that enthusiasm with some of my own. You'll see me around from time to time. I'll be the guy with the ever present shoe box stuffed full of old ticket stubs, photographs, and notes...

So...keep building the railroad, but don't forget we're gonna need some space for our archives and displays...

James Patten replied:
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Maybe that house is being built so that the railroad can go right through the basement.

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Bruce, Great post.  Thank you for the information on Edaville's property lines and track plans.  Thanks also to you and Bill for your thoughts on how such changes affect the fans of narrow gauge railroads.  (Or any home town railroad) I agree completely.  I've never been to Edaville but it's tough to look at the photos Steve posted.  I saw how sad Cindy was to hear of the original line being severed, she was in tears.  It is hard to see something unique and special be taken away or changed for the worse.    It does help us all understand what Linwood Moody went through in the 1930s'

Thanks also for your memories of when some of the surviving original fans came to the WW&F.  The museum is such a bright spot since we are rebuilding the line on the original grade.  To add another original fan to your list - it was great to see Peter Cornwall ride the reborn WW&F a few years ago. His smile said it all.

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Stewart,

I'm sorry to have missed the chance to talk with Peter Cornwall and to have seen his reaction to the W.W. & F. Ry.

Luckily, Peter kept an album of his correspondence with Linwood Moody and Jerry DeVos has generously allowed me to borrow it. In an article I have submitted to the Editor of the W.W. & F. Ry. Museum newsletter, I have written (briefly) of Peter Cornwall's respect of Linwood Moody's knowledge of the two footers and his recognition of Linwood as a man who shared his love of the narrow gage.

On a sad note, I have noticed that (at Edaville Railroad), the small remaining section of Ellis D. Atwood's original main line (the section laid from the loading ramp track switch to Eastman's Flume) has been completely removed. Rail was observed stacked at the Flume location and the Edaville Avenue roadway and almost all of the houses that were once home to Atwood's employees and seasonal cranberry workers, gone. The entire area has been cleaned and graded, a local man has told me that houses are going to built over the site.

Hopefully, the large quantity of new railroad ties on the property will be utilized in the reconstruction of the old main line (also known as the junk-yard track, and a/k/a the flume track).
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum