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Topics - Cliff Olson

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Monson Railroad / Monson combine
« on: July 29, 2013, 08:38:53 AM »
The Monson Historical Society has recently acquired the toilet from Monson's Laconia combination passenger/baggage car. The curvature of the new acquisition matches the diagram of the toilet on p.81 of Roger Whitney's book, and the porcelain portion below the wooden seat bears the name Astbury & Maddock.  The toilet is currently on display at the Monson Museum.

Maine Narrow Gauge RR Co. & Museum / MNG RR Museum - Moving to Gray Maine
« on: February 10, 2012, 03:48:36 PM »
Ed Lecuyer says in the recent pilot/cowcatcher discussion that MNG "may be moving".  I have heard from another source that Phin Sprague's Portland Co. property is about to be sold.  Does anyone have further information on this?

Maine Narrow Gauge RR Co. & Museum / Monson #4
« on: February 09, 2012, 03:55:56 PM »
What happened to the discussion re. whether Monson #4 should have its fake pilot?

General Discussion / FRA Regulations (Pilot, Grade Crossing, Brakes, etc.)
« on: February 06, 2012, 09:27:42 AM »
Does MNG have any intention of removing the fake pilot from Monson #4 in the interest of historical accuracy, as it did with Monson #3?  Hopefully, the "Polar Express" tank lettering is also only temporary.

Monson Railroad / Monson Yard
« on: October 03, 2011, 05:57:50 AM »
The map of Monson's quarry branches approved by the state railroad commissioners in September, 1883 (and filed in the Maine State Archives in Aigusta) shows a wye in the Monson yard.  Two legs are the beginning of the respective Hebron Pond Quarry and Monson Pond Quarry Branches.  The third leg was to run from Chapin Avenue to the eastern extremity of the Monson station grounds. I have not seen evidence that the third leg was actually constructed, although the c. 1890 "bird's-eye view of Monson" drawing does portray the wye.  Monson's recent proposal to Maine Narrow Gauge raised the possibility of completing that wye.

Monson Railroad / Properties on or abutting Monson ROW for sale
« on: September 29, 2010, 11:41:19 AM » currently shows two properties on or abutting the Monson RR ROW.  27 Chapin Ave, asking $125,000, is a recently remodeled former slate company house that abuts the north end of the Monson yard parcel, adjacent to the former Chapin Ave crossing on the Hebron Quarry Branch.  The back yard also abuts the Monson Pond Quarry Branch ROW.

2 Greenville Rd. is a 1.3 acre lot for $27,000 that abuts or may even contain part of the former Hebron Quarry Branch ROW where it starts up Homer Hill.  The tax map shows a quarry nearby, but I think it is just a pond.
Also, the Farrin Brothers lot, just east of the station parcel, was recently listed for $14,000 but no longer appears; it has not sold, as far as I know.  This was the location of the garage often mistaken for the Monson RR engine house before it was burned down by the Monson volunteer firemen in a training exercise 10-15 years ago.

Monson Railroad / Monson tour
« on: June 28, 2010, 01:47:37 PM »
At last fall's work weekend, Dave Buczkowski suggested that I arrange a tour of the Monson Railroad for any WW&F members who might be interested.  I could conduct such a tour any day of the week of July 4 (except Sunday the 4th and Thursday the 8th) or any day of the week of July 19. As a bonus, the Monson Historical Society museum should be open on Wednesday and Saturday of those weeks (10-2). 

I think the best approach would be to start at the Monson station and to walk both north and south on the roadbed (about 3/4 mile in each direction).  This would cover the Monson Pond Quarry Branch as far as the former Monson Maine Slate Company mill and the main line from the Monson yard to the former Portland-Monson Slate Company sidings.

Monson is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Portland and about 2:15 from Sheepscot.  Let me know this week if you're interested and what days would work for you.  If notice is too short to do this in July, we could try a date in August, September or October.

Monson Railroad / Monson Jct.
« on: June 02, 2010, 08:21:35 AM »
Monson Junction is disappearing due to expansion of the gravel pit that was started several years ago on the ROW at the south end of the B&A yard.  In addition, a small pond is being created in part of the junction area - - the water source apparently is the well once used to supply the MRR water tank. 
The B&A station at the north end of the yard is still standing (and may be for sale) but needs a lot of work.  Thus, for now, the Monson remains as the only Maine narrow gauge RR with all original depots still in existence.

Monson Railroad / Eighteen Quarry Extension
« on: January 15, 2010, 04:06:53 PM »
Somewhere (perhaps from the Hungerford materials at the WW&F) I got the impression that the Hebron Quarry Branch was removed about 1918 to provide rail for the extension of the Monson Pond/Kineo Quarry Branch from Oakland Quarry to the new Eighteen Quarry.  Can anyone verify this?

The Hebron Quarry Branch apparently was still in place when the Monson's branches were mapped in late 1917 (see Jones, p. 137). According to Jones (p.53), the Monson RR bought 28 tons of used rail from the Boston & Maine for the extension to Eighteen Quarry.  However, according to my calculations (assuming 35 pound rail), this would have provided only about 1/2 mile of the 2-3 miles of track needed.  The rail from the Hebron Quarry Branch would have provided at least another mile of track.

Monson Railroad / Portland-Monson Slate Co.
« on: January 11, 2010, 11:08:33 AM »
The Google Maps link (provided by Bill Fortier in the "long slate shed" topic) gives a good view of the spur into the Portland-Monson Slate Co. mill shown on p. 73 of the Jones book.  That spur begins about 1/4 mile south of Stevens' Crossing and curves broadly to the south and west.  The spur is in great shape near the switch, apparently because the slate ballast has pine trees growing upon it and therefore has not been impacted by ATV's.  However, the spur has been truncated not far beyond the switch, apparently for drainage purposes (although there is still general flooding on the main just south of the switch).  I do not know the exact termination point of the spur, although the northernmost buildings shown on the Google map appear to have been the destination.   

On the main line just south of the switch are remnants of a shed, apparently that shown on pp. 73 and 96 of the Jones book. The  apparent absence on p. 73 of the siding paralleling the main track seems to indicate that the siding was a spur with a south-facing switch not visible in the photo).

Monson Railroad / Monson Maine Slate Company plant
« on: December 21, 2009, 05:20:30 PM »
The assets of Moosehead Manufacturing Co., including the former Monson Maine Slate Company buildings on the north side of the Monson Pond Quarry, will be auctioned off on January 21, 2010.  For further information, including several photos of the plant, see

Monson Railroad / Monson's "long slate shed"
« on: November 27, 2009, 02:17:35 PM »
One building that has received little attention in publications about the Monson RR is the so-called "long slate shed".  This was a 500-foot-long bulding that was owned by the Monson Maine Slate Company and used primarily to store slate shingles prior to shipment.  It was located a short distance across Chapin Avenue from the Monson yard on the branch to the Hebron (Pond) Quarry.

I have seen only one photo and two drawings of the long slate shed.  The photo appears in both the 150th and 175th anniversary books of the Town of Monson.  No spur to the shed appears in the photo, which shows the east side and north end of the building.

One drawing of the shed is part of the c. 1900 "bird's-eye view of Monson" poster.  On that poster, the tangent track crossing Chapin Avenue extends to form a spur on the west side of the shed just beyond the point where the main track curves further to the west.  Another view of the shed appears in an inset to the main poster.

The second drawing of the shed appears in the booklet advertising Monson as "the Switzerland of Maine".  This drawing reflects some artistic license in that the building itself is depicted as paralleling the main track and Lake Hebron, which is not actually visible from the building site, is shown in the distance.  This drawing also shows large identifying lettering painted on the end of the shed, which seems atypical of MMSC practice.

I have no information on how the long slate shed was utilized after the Hebron Quarry Branch was cut back to the east side of Chapin Avenue.  However, the building existed at least until the August 1944 auction of the MMSC's assets, the flyer for which lists "SLATE SHED Just off Chapin Avenue, 500 ft. long, 40 ft. wide, with slate roof.  This shed is sold to be removed hence no land is included".

Monson Railroad / trestle/fill south of station
« on: November 15, 2009, 09:09:09 PM »
"Supt Estabrook has just completed the filling of the Haynes trestle on the Monson railroad, which is 645 feet long and averages 15 feet in depth, with debris and waste from the slate quarries.  He has been fourteen months doing it as he did not employ any extra men but did it with his regular crew in spare hours.  It is an excellent job and enhances the value of the road very materially."
The Monson Weekly Slate, 1/15/1890

This is likely the fill between the Monson station and the Willimantic road (Stevens Crossing) that Stewart mentioned under "Monson RR blog" a couple days ago. I had never heard of "the Haynes trestle" or of any Haynes in Monson.  Gary Kohler has a nice photo of the trestle, which I hope will be included in his upcoming Monson book.

Monson Railroad / Elwin French and Albin Johnson
« on: November 11, 2009, 09:47:17 AM »
As a sub-teen or teenager, I knew both Elwin French and Albin Johnson.  Elwin's grandson was my good friend, and Albin (incorrectly called Albion by my relatives and others) had a farm across the street from my grandmother.  Unfortunately, I was more interested at the time in the B&A Greenville Branch and the CP Moosehead Sub (both of which then existed) than in the Monson.  Both Elwin's son Harold and Albin's son Frank have died within the last 10 years, so I believe that their fathers probably were gone by the 1970's.

Elwin's daughter-in-law, Althea French, was the president of the Monson Historical Society for many years and provided much information to two-foot fans, including Bob Hungerford, who recently has given much of his collection to the WW&F.  Unfortunately, Althea is now incapacitated by dementia.  However, Estella Bennett, current president of the Monson Historical Society (and Roger Whitney's cousin by marriage), has conducted numerous interviews of elderly Monson residents that presumably include Monson RR recollections.

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