Author Topic: What’s Going to Happen Next??!! Bad Month on the Monson  (Read 6972 times)

Roger Whitney

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What’s Going to Happen Next??!! Bad Month on the Monson
« on: March 08, 2012, 01:26:37 PM »

   We’ve had an unusually mild winter this year and its easy to forget how rugged the Maine winters used to be. A hundred years ago mild winters in Maine were pretty rare and lots of snow was the norm. In Monson they didn’t plow the roads, they rolled them compressing down the snow.  Made for good sledding.  You can see this huge  roller in the Monson Museum today!
   January 1905……newly appointed Supt. Harold Morrill states in a letter to the Monson’s Treasurer that January “was an unusually hard one for us.”
   It started out with a series of severe snowstorms which hampered operations. At that time the only snow fighting equipment the Monson had was pony plow-type affairs bolted to the front of the engines. (This will be in a future blog) The Monson was the northern-most of the Maine two-footers and was in the snow belt of Maine where snow was measured in feet not inches! You would have thought they would have started out with a real plow back in 1883 when the road was built! 
         January 23, 1905, the afternoon train got stuck in the snow near Day’s crossing.  The passengers had to stay at the Pullen Farm. Who knows when that got shoveled out! Mr. Morrill states that “you will notice by the payroll that we have been shoveling snow most all the time.” Wonder how much they were paid?   
         Then the fire boxes on both Hinckleys started to leak.  They had to hire a boiler maker from Bangor to put two patches in the firebox of No.1 and one patch in No.2.  But their troubles weren’t over yet! It wasn’t long after that that the patches in No.1’s firebox started leaking again!  Another call to Bangor…
   And then a tube let go….“We were obliged to cancel the trains last Saturday forenoon because a tube in No. 1 suddenly began to leak so badly that it put the fire out.”  No. 2 was still being repaired and was not ready for service.  So the Monson found itself with no motive power!  A team was sent to the Junction with passengers and the mail “so that no one was much disturbed.”
   Mr. Morrill continues…..”The engines are working very hard and as they are getting old too, I suppose we must expect them to break down occasionally.  We are having all we can do and cannot give them care as fast as they need it.”  Sounds like the Monson brass wasn’t investing too much in repairs! 
The Hinckleys were rapidly wearing out.  After the management had had enough, No. 1 was sent to the Portland Company for a rebuild in 1908. But it was another 5 years before they bought a new locomotive from Vulcan in February of 1913. 
   So next time we’re having a lot of snow, think of the Monson in January of 1905!