Author Topic: My Achin’ Back!!! Freight Transfer At The Junction  (Read 8452 times)

Roger Whitney

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My Achin’ Back!!! Freight Transfer At The Junction
« on: March 01, 2012, 02:43:35 PM »

   One inherent problem that all the Maine Two-Footers had in common was freight transfer.  Since two foot gauge cars were about a quarter the size of standard gauge cars and less than half the gauge width, interchange of cars were not possible.  So the narrow gauge cars had to be spotted beside the standard gauge cars and every bit if freight had to be transferred by hand.
   The Jones book and Gary Kohler’s new pictoral shows many pictures of the freight transfer facilities at Monson Junction.  The Monson transfer track had a slight incline so that when spotted, the Monson car decks would be brought up to the same level as the standard gauge.  This was mentioned in an earlier blog concerning the side ladders on the boxcars.
   The Monson hired locals (who else?) to do the freight transferring. George Fogg, brother of  B&A station agent Giles Fogg, was employed in this capacity in 1919.  When there wasn’t enough “work for him at the Junction” he was transferred to car repair in the Monson shops.  Also there is evidence that later on, Paul Jackson was also employed. There had to have been a lot of others but their names have not surfaced. In later years, the train crew did all the transferring as well as coaling the locomotives by hand from a B&A gondola. It must have been hard work to keep the schedule! Imagine running the second or third train of the day to the Junction and when you got there, you looked at 12 ton of polishing sand to shovel onto a narrow gauge flat to bring back to Monson! There was never any mechanical means of transferring any of this freight except the use of shovels and hand trucks. This is where “my achin’ back” must have come in!
   Incoming bulk freight would be in the form of polishing sand for the finishing sheds and coal for the slate company’s HRT boilers, as well as express and other lcl shipments for the slate industry and townspeople. Outgoing would mainly be slate products, lumber, and pulpwood.
   The Junction freight shed was originally roughly 30x100 feet, running from the switch of the B&A transfer track very near the station on the north end a hundred feet south to the end of the Monson transfer track. The original north end of the building was cut down to approximately half its length sometime after the turn of the century and before 1913. The Jones book shows a nice picture of the original shed on page 12. Curiously I can’t find any mention of this major rebuild in the records….yet anyway. The shed was used to store freight that wasn’t immediately transferred to or from the B&A.
         There are several pictures published showing large blocks of slate being lowered onto Monson flats.  This was not to be transferred at the Junction but for the convenience of the slate company in getting the rough quarried slate from the bottom of the quarries by derrick to the finishing sheds nearby.  By 1908 the Monson Maine Slate Company owned the Monson, so their equipment was used in various duties around the plant. Most of these pictures were taken there which is now the site of the former Moosehead Mfg. Company. The only slate that went to the Junction was finished products in the form of shingles, electric switch boards, sinks and the like.
   Looking at the Junction yard track layout and the size of the original freight shed, the Monson brass must have been anticipating a huge volume of traffic when the yard was built.  There were two 700 foot sidings on the west side of the B&A main and an 1100 foot siding on the east side which was the B&A transfer track.   

Cliff Olson

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Re: My Achin’ Back!!! Freight Transfer At The Junction
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2012, 05:32:23 PM »
Perhaps it was the B&A brass, rather than the Monson brass, who anticipated a huge volume of business at Monson Jct.  The two sidings west of the B&A main apparently were a passing track and a team track, neither of which had anything to do with the Monson RR. After the Monson was abandoned, the siding next to its transfer track (and east of the B&A main) became the primary team track, where Moosehead furniture was loaded for most of the next 20 years.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 08:56:42 AM by Cliff Olson »