Author Topic: The Monson After Passenger Service  (Read 11053 times)

Roger Whitney

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The Monson After Passenger Service
« on: April 12, 2012, 11:56:02 AM »

   Last week I wrote about the end of passenger service on the Monson.  But what happened after the little Laconia Combine was pushed into a siding and abandoned?
   Passenger service ended on November 1, 1938 and longtime supt. Morrill retired a month later on December 1, 1938.  It looked like the end was near.  But the Monson survived for another 5 years! 
   The Monson ceased to become a common carrier soon after the termination of passenger service. Since the slate company owned the railroad for a long time prior to this, it became just another industrial railroad.  According to Bob Jones, the slate company stated that they could operate a locomotive and 28 cars for less money than it would cost to purchase and operate trucks. They were counting on the fact that even though the railroad was deteriorating, they could still operate until the equipment was so broken down that it was unusable.
   Despite the slate company’s view of not operating trucks, they never-the-less began to appear. Trains began to run less frequently and only if there was a slate shipment too big for the trucks. The Monson still had the mail contract which went by truck.  But there was polishing sand to be moved to the slate finishing sheds and the only practical way to move it was by the railroad.  It took three flatcars with side boards to equal a standard gage gondola, and it all had to be shoveled by hand from the B&A and later off loaded at the finishing sheds in Monson. They must have had some coal to haul for the slate company also.
   In February of 1941, the Monson had the distinction of being the last of the original Maine Two-Footers when the B&H was finally abandoned.  It evidently hit the Monson boys pretty hard. But demand for slate increased after December 7, 1941.  Business boomed but it was too late!  By that time, the infrastructure of the Monson was in such disrepair that it couldn’t handle the demands on it. Derailments to and from the junction each trip were common place.  The train crew was about the only employees left and had to do any track repairs necessary to get over the line.
   On July 12, 1943 the slate company received permission to begin common carrier service by motor truck and on August 14, 1942 the company applied to the PUC to cease all operations and dismantle trackage.  On October 4, 1943 permission was granted.
   Another blog will discuss the dismantling of the Monson.

Mark Hendrickson

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Re: The Monson After Passenger Service
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 10:10:12 AM »
So for how long did the Slate company continue to haul the mail after the railroad was abandoned. And are there pictures of the trucks they used?

Cliff Olson

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Re: The Monson After Passenger Service
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2012, 02:42:22 PM »
The Monson Maine Slate Company went out of business about the same time as the Monson Railroad and sold most of its machinery and equipment and significant land holdings east of its mill in 1944. It probably was the railroad, rather than MMSC, that had the mail contract until then, even if the mail was actually delivered in a truck owned by MMSC. I don't know if the Monson Railroad Company, under the majority ownership of Francis Marshall beginning in 1944, continued to have the mail contract by truck.  I don't recall seeing a photo of a truck owned by either MRR or MMSC.
According to Bob Jones, it was actually August 14, 1943, not 1942, when the MRR filed to abandon the railroad.

Jeff Acock

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Re: The Monson After Passenger Service
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2012, 06:00:30 PM »
Is there documentation that the Monson ceased to be a common carrier after 1938?  While not unhead-of this would be an unusual step for a railroad to take, as it was still interchanging traffic with the BAR and relinquishing common carriage would mean the loss of joint rates.

It was not unusual for short connecting railroads like the Monson to be reduced in their later years to carrying only the traffic of their owners, thereby becoming de facto private carriers while still remaining common carriers at law.  George W. Hilton called these roads nominal common carriers.

  A rather extreme example would be the Sumpter Valley Railway in Oregon which abandoned its 60-mile mainline in 1947 but retained 1.5 miles of dual-gauge switching trackage to connect a large mill of the Oregon Lumber Co. (which owned the railroad) with the Union Pacific.  This tiny remnant lasted until 1961, switching standard gauge cars into the mill with a narrow gauge locomotive, and remained a common carrier at law.  The reason, of course, was that by travelling that 1.5 miles over SVRy track every carload entering or leaving the mill was elgible for origination or termination fees and joint rates with the Union Pacific or other roads it ran on.

It's obvious that the "common carrier at law" designation was not something that a railroad was eager to give up even though it had ceased to serve any general transport function.  The Jones book lists a slate of officers during the Monson's final years, which indicates that it was still seperately incorporated.  Along with the record of the company's petition to retain common carriage by truck after the railroad's final abandonment this suggests that the Monson probably remained a common carrier throughout its existance.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 10:55:32 AM by Jeff Acock »