Author Topic: Dismantling the Monson  (Read 8839 times)

Roger Whitney

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Dismantling the Monson
« on: April 26, 2012, 11:42:08 AM »

        Note: My apologies for missing last week’s blog. I fully intend to have the blog come out every Thursday at noon.  I was on “vacation” in Abbot doing some emergency house repair, just a few miles from Monson Junction! Not much of a vacation though!

   The last two blogs dealt with the end times of the Monson Railroad, so I might as well finish this depressing subject.
   October and November 1943 saw no activity on the Monson.  There must have been some bidding going on with various junkmen.  Ultimately the track was sold to Rochester Iron & Metal Company of Rochester NY. According to the Jones book, scrapping started in December of 1943.  The rolling stock, except for a few flatcars, were pushed into a nearby quarry pit and the car bodies toppled over the edge. The bodies were burned. Then the rails to the quarry were removed. I wonder which quarry? The salvageable scrap was then taken to the Jct (how? Maybe I’m a little out of sequence here) and loaded onto gondolas for the trip to New York.
   There doesn’t seem to be much documentation of the junking of the road.  Jones’ book states that pictures are pretty rare.  It seems strange, that with the railroad such a big part of Monson life for 60 years, that it’s junking seemed to go largely unnoticed by the townspeople, at least the photographers.  Past WW&F President Larson Powell, however was there and took some pictures.
   Engine No. 3 was steamed up and pulled the dead No. 4 to the Junction.  I have heard tell over the years that the No. 3 was in such bad condition during this time that her severely worn running gear pounded and squealed so bad you could feel it through the fabric of the locomotive. Paul Jackson was running and I don’t know who was firing, but hardly any maintenance was done, just enough to get by. Slowly the scrap train made it’s way to the junction tearing up the tiny 30 pound rail as it went. I wonder on what date the last train actually left Monson for all time? (Or at least until 1997) That rail was then transferred to the B&A.  The transfer must have been by hand!  What a job! And in the middle of the winter! Anyone who has worked on the WW&F track crew knows how hard that is in warmer weather, let alone winter!
   Engines 3 and 4 were winched onto flatcars and sent to Rochester. Soon after, what was left of the company was purchased by the Monson Power and Light Co. More on that later.  The Monson Railroad was gone!
        Moody’s benediction at the end of his second Monson Railroad chapter is especially moving.  It is a lament for all the Maine Two-Footers but seems especially appropriate for the Monson. “…from the first 8-miler to the last 6-miler the short fascinating era of the lilliputs had burst into being like a proud burst of music in 1877.  It had bloomed and boomed through 67 years maybe with George Mansfield’s enthusiasm and faith as an impetus.  It had wilted, withered and died in 1943….And maybe gone to seed with his fond benediction.”

Cliff Olson

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Re: Dismantling the Monson
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 02:54:00 PM »
I doubt that the Monson rolling stock was actually burned in a "quarry" or "pit", as those terms are normally used in Monson, because of the difficulty of retrieving the scrap metal (not to mention the difficulty of burning because of the water in most of the Monson Maine Slate Company pits by the end of 1943).  Most likely, Bob Jones was referring to a shallow depression in one of the slate dumps.  Maybe Larson Powell can provide some insight into this, although I don't believe he is on the forum or uses a computer.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the majority of Monson stock was acquired in 1944 by Francis Marshall.  Although Francis Marshall also owned the Monson Light & Power Co. and probably used some of the remaining assets of the Monson RR in the conduct of Monson L&P's business, I have seen no evidence that Monson L&P ever actually owned the railroad assets.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 03:08:48 PM by Cliff Olson »