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Messages - Steve Klare

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Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad / Re: Visit 9/29/19
« on: October 17, 2019, 04:41:57 PM »

Your spin on your wife's day has my admiration. When it's MY wife's day it usually involves me seated on a couch having conversation with some really uninteresting people!

-although I guess the three of us in Sheepscot this Annual Picnic just may count as MY day!

I like your pictures! When I was about 25 my friend and I camped a week at Phillips just before Old Home Days: tented next to the north abutment of the covered bridge. We earned our keep by helping them to paint caboose 556 and Ariel's boiler.

We used to go there twice a year and have a lot of great memories!   

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad / Re: Farmington Yard Today
« on: November 02, 2018, 02:31:14 PM »

They really DID pave paradise and put up a parking lot!

I'm glad I got up the Franklin County when I did: there was more to see there then than a few years later.  For example, I got to see Kingfield station still in place before it was torn down.

It's still good to stand in these places: it helps you to orient yourself when you are looking at old photos and film footage.  I went to Bridgton Junction about 5 years ago and found not much but mosquitoes and "No Trespassing" signs.  I have Sunday River's "Bridgton and Harrison" and there's a scene with a train passing the camera with a steel bridge in back. After I went there all of a sudden I realized the train was coming north out of the junction yard and the bridge in back was where the Maine Central crossed the Saco River. (I'd been looking at this footage for maybe 30 years at this point!)

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad / Farmington Yard Today
« on: October 11, 2018, 03:33:46 PM »
So what is Farmington Yard like today?

When I was 20 years old, I went up to Franklin County for the first time and I did some exploring: I went to all of the major towns on SR&RL and found all of the yards and stations I could.

Farmington was great: being that the Maine Central was still there it was very easy to still imagine it as the SR&RL junction. Access was very good: I walked up into the old transfer yard and the raised grades needed for the SR&RL's  lower floor heights were still obvious.  I found a line of really shredded looking old ties off in the weeds. I kept a small piece: it smelled of cedar. I whittled it down to On2 size, brought it home and made a tie in my own SR&RL.

My timing turned out to be very good: the next summer when I went back, the Maine Central was gone.

A couple of years later a Spring flood took down the Maine Central's steel bridge over the Sandy River.

I became very involved in the museum line for several years, but usually bypassed Farmington and headed direct to Phillips.

Since then they've built a movie theater (Narrow Gauge Cinemas) on the former yard. I think they moved the station house too.

It's nice of them to honor the SR&RL this way, but  have the changes obliterated it as a historic site?

Is access as good as it once was?

Massachusetts' Two Footers / A Two Foot Memory
« on: July 18, 2018, 12:43:46 PM »
I have family near New Bedford, Mass. When  I was seven years old my family did a great vacation up near them.

It was a great week. I got to hang out with my cousins, we visited my Mom's aunt and uncle in Fair Haven and while we were at their house, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and we watched it on their ancient TV. We visited the Battleship Massachusetts and I got my very first ride in a narrow gauge train over at Edaville.

-just maybe this experience would cost me thousands twenty years down the road!

The real point of my story is we stayed at a campground near Rochester. It was a great week, there was a pond there with frogs, I got to see my Dad light a campfire with wet wood using gasoline (he wasn't a patient man...,) and there was this really unique trailer on one of the campsites.

Even to a first grader (going into second), it was obvious that this was meant to look like a caboose. It was red, it had a cupola and end platforms. To an SR&RL fan, almost 50 years later,  it's even more obvious that it was meant to look like an SR&RL long caboose!

Given the proximity I'd say somebody with a pretty respectable tie-in to Edaville built this thing so they could stay close by in style!

Has anybody out there ever seen it?

If I was a modern 7 year old, I probably would have snapped a picture with my Cell, but for me that finally came nine years later on 35mm at East Broad Top.

Have to see if he could cope with there being no App. for trackwork!

So there we are resident at SR&RL for a whole week and they left us the keys....

We went into the section house and found this pump handcar welded together out of maybe 1/2" plate steel! (RUGGED, it was!)

The two of us together couldn't have weighed half what this thing did, but we wrestled it out to the track.

Thing of it is there is a fine balance between torque and speed and this was more on the "torque" end of the spectrum. So we got out there and pumped furiously and got up to maybe a brisk walk. Not too long afterwards our skinny college-kid arms (wasn't on the football team...) got tired and we wrestled it back into the section house.

-but we joined up long term and eventually made friends with their rotary hand-car...

-now that's a hand car!

Wonderful Stuff!,

Back when I was about 20 and in college, my friend and I were going to go up to Rangeley and camp for a week and then come back to Phillips for Old Home Days on the way home. We jumped off Rt. 4 so I could show him the railroad. We were walking down the ROW when who did we meet but Mack Paige, there for pre-Old Home Days track work.

We worked with him for a while and he gave us Vacation Plan "B": stay in Phillips and help out at the SR&RL all week. So we lived in the station and somebody found us something to do many days. Both Ariel's  boiler and caboose #556 were still over behind the Historical House and we helped paint them both. #556 was fitted out to be a trailer back then, but she gut trucks a few years later.

At night, we'd go back over to the station and cook the kind of food only a college kid lives on, and take a dip in the Sandy River so we wouldn't stink!

-wasn't all glamorous: one day we helped Hugh Montgomery haul boxes of books out on the lawn of the Historical Society for a book sale. Wasn't for nothing: I still have the autographed Herbert Hoover book I found there.

I have responsibilities these days and it's tough to get up to Maine for a weekend at the railroads, but then again I have a 14 year old son and a car that can do the trip without leaving me walking on the shoulder.

-maybe it's time to live those days as much as I can again!

Other Narrow Gauge / Re: Facebook Narrow Gauge Russia
« on: June 22, 2015, 07:44:20 PM »
It's a fascinating place: kind of at the crossroads of the major far east powers, which means depending on who held the upper hand militarily at the moment, they marched in and kicked the other guy out.

The Russians took it from the Japanese in 1945. The Japanese took it from the Russians 40 years before.

We were in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the capitol city. The Soviets doing business the ways the Soviets did, when they marched into Toyohara (The Japanese name) they tore down every building but the governor's palace, rebuilt with Soviet buildings, established Lenin square, and gradually shoved the Japanese residents onto boats headed for Hokkaido when mainland Russians showed up to take their place (most of whom didn't really want to move there...).  There were many Koreans there who the Japanese brought as slave labor to work the coal mines. The Soviets wouldn't let them go. After the end of the Soviet Union some of their descendants tried moving to South Korea and found they weren't really at home there either.

It's like Hokkaido: very mountainous and quite beautiful.

I would loved to have seen the railroad run, but we were there as part of a group and not allowed to run loose. All I could do was press my face against the window whenever we drove across a crossing!

It was obviously some kind of narrow gauge, but I didn't find out until I got home and Googled it!

Other Narrow Gauge / Re: Facebook Narrow Gauge Russia
« on: June 22, 2015, 04:05:02 PM »
Years ago I was on Russia's Sakhalin Island (I talk about it somewhere else here...)

This was a northern Prefecture of Japan until the Soviets came flooding in during the last weeks of WWII and booted them out. It's been Russian ever since. As a consequence, the Soviet and then the Russian governments operated a decent sized 42" narrow gauge line for 60 years, including Japanese Steam left behind until the late 1970s.

Since the end of Soviet days they've discovered the place has huge resources of oil and natural gas and have decided to integrate the island more closely with mainland Russia. (Part of the Problem: Japan still wants it back.)  Part of this  move is a possible direct connection to the Russian Railways system by a fixed bridge or tunnel to Siberia, but first they want to fix their gauge disconnect.

The old Cape Gauge system is becoming dual gauged right now with Russian Standard Gauge (5',0"). It's entirely possible some day not very long from now they'll do what they did from Alamosa to Antonito: lift that middle rail and call it a day.

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.

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.

Something's funky about that!

Shouldn't it be mirror imaged if it was intented for printing?


That's great!

I wouldn't have been at all surprised to find out Mr. Crittenden whipped this up on his drafting table somewhere around 1965.

If it existed in the 1940s it is from before Edaville, Linwood Moody, "Maine Two Footers" and the beginning of the Two Footers as an area of Railfan interest.

I now think it's related to the operational era of SR&RL, I just don't know how.

Maine Narrow Gauge RR Co. & Museum / Re: B&SR 7
« on: December 21, 2013, 05:44:29 PM »
We rode it today: not bad at all!

Other Narrow Gauge / Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway
« on: August 16, 2013, 10:25:28 PM »
Here's a really interesting one.

The Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway was a genuine 30" gauge railway (just for you "n30" fans out there) in Staffordshire in the UK. Pretty little line with beautiful engines. It would make a great model, actually.

What's unique about it is they used tranporter wagons European Style to move small standard gauge freight cars to customers along the 8 mile route. (Not practiced anywhere else in Great Britain). As a result there were isolated standard gauge sidings scattered along way.

What's even better to me, as a fan of old films of narrow gauge trains is there's a YouTube video of them doing it!

The Monson Blog / Re: The Monson Gets A New Handcar
« on: May 31, 2012, 12:00:48 PM »

By "hand crank model" do you mean two sprocket gears and chain drive? I've always wondered if these were unique to the Franklin County Lines.

The crank car in Phillips and I are old friends.  Back in the late 80s, early 90s a friend and I could cover that half mile in a frightening few minutes. It was as much fun as is possible without using pistons.

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