Author Topic: locating Bridgton Junction  (Read 3989 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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locating Bridgton Junction
« on: December 13, 2008, 12:58:26 AM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
locating Bridgton Junction has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
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Bruce Wilson wrote:
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Can anyone help me in my search to locate where the Bridgton Junction station was at Hiram?

I was on the Maine Central right of way in Hiram today and saw evidence of the recent removal of what appears to have been a section house or other railroad storage building. This was "in town" west of the railroad bridge and right where the standard gage passing siding exists. I believe the mile marker there read Portland 37 Miles.

I proceeded to hike the MEC grade east to MP-36 without finding anything else.

Allan Fisher replied:
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If the 1941 USGS map I just looked at is correct - the station was about 500 to 600 feet south and east of the river (MEC bridge)

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Hi Bruce,

You walked right by it!  MP36 has to be pretty near to where the switch for the MEC interchange yard was.  Bridgton Junction depot was located at MP 36.3 (mileage from Portland) on the former Maine Central line.

From the location of the former Hiram depot, follow the line eastbound (towards Portland).  After you cross the bridge over the Saco River, the B&SR line swung in from the north (on your left) on a broad curve.  The depot  was a couple hundred yards on your left.

If you're headed towards Portland on Rt 113, the road crosses over the Saco River and immediately connects with Rt 117 on the northeern bank of the river.  Take a right at the junction of the two roads.  The two roads closely parallel the northern bank of the Saco for about 1/2 to 3/4s of a mile south.  The road crosses a small stream, this is the outlet for Hancock Brook.  At little further along, the road takes a right hand curve and starts up a hill.  There is a small house at this point with the hill immediately behind.  You can't see it but the B&SR grade runs behind the house on this hill.  The road continues a short distance uphill and then swings back to the left.  Very close to this point, there is another house at your left.  It either sits right on the grade or is darn close to it.  Bridgton Junction yard was immediately to your right.

I hope these directions help you find it.  I haven't been there in some 10 years.  Please let me know how the area looks.

Best Regards,
Glenn

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Thanks Allan and Glenn, your help is very much appreciated.

As I write this, there is a photo of an eastbound Maine Central freight train approaching the Junction station on eBay. I estimated the distance from the bridge to the station, by the number of cars (40' boxcars) shown in the photo and multiplied by the number of cars and then I walked from the bridge out to where I thought the site should be and then kept going to MP-36. It just didn't "feel" right for some reason. Maybe because I was haunted by visions of film footage showing an eastbound passenger run steaming into the station, with the bridge way off in the distance. I'm now thinking that the film footage I was remembering was likely shot from across the Saco and my sense of direction was all off.

Anyway, I did go across the river and easily found the grade and followed it up to Joe Bennett's cottage. Before driving up the grade (with a street sign proclaiming "Narrow Gauge Trail - Private Way"), I noticed a small shed back in town that looked like it might have once had a use along a railroad line. After riding a few miles of the grade, I went back and took a photo of the shed. Once I get the film developed, I'll check to see if any similar structures appear in photos of the Bridgton narrow gage.

This is only my second trip to the B & SR searching for clues. An earlier trip this year landed me at Sandy Creek and provided a long and pleasant hike southward down the grade.

Next stop...Bridgton.

Thanks again to you both and to anyone else wishing to comment about surviving traces of this two footer.

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Hi Bruce,

Sounds like you're making some good progress!

If memory serves, the place where you picked up Narrow Gauge Trail is at Rankins Mill.  The right of way crosses the main road to Convene at that point.  As you continue north towards Barker Pond, the rock cutting is at "Summit".

If you head back southbound from Rankins Mill, the right of way crosses the Convene road and then another side road which continues straight across over Hancock Brook.  This is the old "Double-barrelled road crossing".  The ROW stays on the north/west bank of the brook and passes behind a house sited up on the little knoll there.  This is where the northbound #7 was laid over on her side in the famous photograph.  A mile or so further south you will come to the Hancock Brook stone masonery arch where the narrow gauge actually crossed over to the south side of the brook and started up Smalls Mountain on its way to Bridgton Junction.  If you've not seen the arch, you really ought to.  I understand its still in pretty good shape.  (It was in excellent shape the last time I saw it.)

Of course this is the long way in.  Its easier and shorter to walk in to the arch from the site of Smalls lumber yard.

Wish I could be there with you!

Best Regards,
Glenn

PS- there used to be a lot of discarded ties (some still with spikes) scattered along the right of way on the steep upgrade from Hancock Pond to the "Notch".  Be sure to check it out.

Mike Fox replied:
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Bruce,
The way I ploted the exact location of the station was the old telephone poles that were barely visible. Just about a foot was left standing. Comparing their location with photo's I was able to estimate where it stood. Hope you found the turntable pit and enginehouse remains while there. And Did you see the Hancock Brook arch? I plan a return trip again shortly so I can take some good photos while the leaves are gone and there is no snow.  Most of the Grade between Sandy River and Hancock Pond is accessible by 2WD truck with a little luck. And you can drive through the notch by taking a camp road.
Some things in Bridgton to see, the canning factory foundation (it never opened) and the coal trestle on the Harrison branch. The Bridge over Stevens brook on the Harrison branch still had the framework in place until a couple of years ago. And it is still possible to see several of the abutments on the Harrison branch. If you would like directions to other locations, let me know or email Dana and we can probably help you out. I live fairly close so am very farmiliar with the area.
Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Glenn, Mike and Allan,

Thank you so much for the wealth of information you have provided. I do plan to visit the Bridgton line again and will use your recollections and suggestions as a guide to my own continuing exploration. I am embarrased to admit how much I overlooked on my last survey of the property.

Maybe I can catch up with you guys at Sheepscot and compare notes, but I will be heading to the B & SR country as soon as possible. Hopefully, before the snow comes...

If I can get a little advanced notice on the next trip, I'll post here and offer to meet anyone interested at the Hiram yard.

Thanks again...

John McNamara replied:
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As you enter Bridgton on route 302 northbound, you will see a school and associated athletic fields on your left,as you probably know. On the opposite side of 302, there is a gas station, and the right of way is immediately to the right of the gas station building.

Mike Fox replied:
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Bruce,
I would be glad to meet with you for a trip over the B&SR. I covered it all once in about 4 hours. Saw most of it.  Been kind of wet up here lately so I think a couple of spots might be wet but if it stays cold enough, it will harden.
Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Thanks for your info John and to Mike, I look forward to taking you up on your offer. Perhaps I could meet you at Hiram some Sunday morning. I'll be at Sheepscot tomorrow morning. Maybe we can talk more then...

Dana Deering replied:
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How did I miss THIS entire discussion??  Shame on me.  Hope I haven't missed the chance to get in on the B&SR trip.  I know a few points of interest.

Dana

Mike Fox replied:
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Dana,
I think you know the B&SR better than most. I need to get out there again soon before snow flies. Want to get some good photos.
Mike

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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Dana, I feel the same way.  How too did I miss out on this discussion?  I have a wealth of pictures taken by me from along the right of way from Bridgton to Hiram.  My most recent pics were taken during the summer of '05 to the left of 302 where it approaches the center of Bridgton.  There are several beautiful stone abutments (minus bridges of course) on the right of way as it passes from where the new Hanaford's is located to the edge of the road leading to Sandy Creek by the town dump/disposal station.  I also have a video that I created over the course of several summers that documents most of the right of way from Bridgton to Bridgton Junction.  There is a fellow who has written several books in the Images of America series on the towns around Bridgton.  He and his wife have an extensive picture collection as well as personal knowledge of the B&H/B&SR.  They are Diane and Cliff Barnes and coincidently live along the B&H right of way in Hiram.  There are many areas of interest on the old right of way where abutments and culverts can be found as well as the old turntable pit in Hiram.
I would be happy to bring those pics or even the video to the museum some time if anyone is interested.
Duncan

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Hi Duncan,

As an old B&SR fan, I'd love to see your photos.  But living in Georgia makes to hard to get up to the museum as often as I would like.

It would be wonderful if there was some way to get your photos posted on the web at some point.

Best Regards,
Glenn

Mike Fox replied:
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Glenn and Duncan,
I have asked the owner of NE Rail to create a B&SR section. I want a place to display some of the current photos as well as a place for people to share the older ones they have. I am hoping to get over there this week while we still have no snow up here yet.
Mike

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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Glenn and Mike,
I would love to log in my pics. However, I'm not sure how clearly they would come out since they were all shot 35mm rather than digital and I'd have to scan them.  If Nerail can start a file I'd be willing to give it a try.
If a file is created I'm sure others would be willing to post pics they have as well.  We lovers of the B&H could then share and enjoy each other's efforts.

Mike Fox replied:
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I have put in the request. I just don't know how long it will take to create it.
Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Duncan,

I'd love to see your photos. Any chance you might consider bringing them to the museum during the 2007 annual meeting?

Bruce

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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Bruce,
I'd love to bring the album I've created to the museum but it won't be for the annual meeting.  I won't be making the trip at that time.  However, since Mike has just noted on another of the Bridgton blogs that Nerail has opened a spot for the B&H, I will try to start uploading my pictures to Nerail.  That way anyone and everyone will be able to view them.
Duncan

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Thanks Duncan, will look forward to seeing your photos on NERAIL.

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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Bruce,
I've started putting a few digital pictures on Nerail since the B&SR file is now open.  Mike has already loaded quite a few nice picks as well.  As soon as I get a bit of free time I will start scanning my 35mm photos and upload them as well.
Duncan

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Duncan,

Thanks, I've been enjoying the B & H photos as they are posted. Can't wait to get over to the old railbed and do some more exploring.

Bruce

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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Bruce,
Ditto for me.  The B&H is my first love and it's responsible for my interest in the 2 footers in general and the WW&F in particular.  Who would have thought that a simple week's vacation camping in Maine could lead to so many new friends and such a worthwhile pursuit as the 2 footers.
Duncan

Bill Sample replied:
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Thanks to Mike for the Maine Aerial Photography site.  Just got done using that and a back up of vintage topo maps from the UNH site to explore the B&SR from the junction to Bridgton.  Tracing this line seems a lot easier than the WW&F or SR&RL portions that I have checked out.
This also helped me to locate Bridgton Jct. for future use.

Bruce Wilson replied:
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I read you Duncan, I can't get enough either. For me, it has been a thrill to walk on the areas that I have only been able to read about or interpret through photographs. The aerial mapping is helpful and I'm reminded of a time when Harry Percival set out from Wiscasset riding shotgun in a helicopter. He was intending to film the W.W. & F. right of way through the lense of a borrowed camera. Soon after liftoff, he developed motion sickness from staring through the camera lense at the rapidly moving countryside below. He lasted until somewhere in the Alna area and had to set down. Don't know if that project ever went any further...

Anyway...it has been a blast to see all the helpful and enthusiastic postings in this discussion forum. It seems a great way for everybody to keep in touch.

I set out to explore Bridgton Junction yesterday, but called it off due to the snow and my van not being very good on slippery roads. I didn't want to chance walking the MEC grade and falling off the Saco River bridge in Hiram either...so, another day and I'll try again.

Last trip I found two spikes, a pair of joint bars and saw Dana's coal memorial.

Mike Fox replied:
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I remember finding the joint bars in the yard area. The were partially burried so I pulled them out. We brought a couple home but left the rest there. If I remember right, it was a hot day and they were in the sun. Like playing a game of hot potato. And if you don't want to cross the bridge, the way I do it is park on the old road next to 113/5. There is a logging landing there. Then just walk the old road to the south end of the yard or just go to the north end. It is only a couple hundred feet from the landing toward the bridge.
Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Mike,

Then I have you to thank for the joint bars...

I left three others in the same spot, and for the same reason as you left the ones you found.

There are more spikes of course, and Dana could build a much larger coal memorial if he chose to do so...

Mike Fox replied:
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Yes, there are many more stumps to cover.
Mike

Dana Deering replied:
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Guys,

If I had had room in my pack I would have packed out my memorial to burn in one of our locomotives.  Now I'm glad that I left it.
Ditto to Duncan's post.  The B&SR is my first love as well.  I was lucky that my grandmother was a closet B&SR fan.  She took some photos, which I have, and she was the first to get me hooked.  Her brother was also a fan and she got us talking one day (mind you I was about 8 years old) and next thing you know he lent me Moody's book.  And you all know how the "affliction" progresses from there.  Later I was in the barber shop and saw a little ad for RR Magazine so I took some of my hard earned lawn mowing money and subscribed.  It was through that mag that I bought my own copy of Moody's.  Then for Christmas 1969 I got Busted and Still Running from my grandmother.  In 1970-1 another friend of my grandmother, Ernest Ward, who had been a brakeman on the B&SR, published  My First Sixty Years in Harrison, Maine.  One day my grandmother took me to visit him and he told me some stories about the B&SR and I got an autographed copy of his book, which has one of the best descriptions of a B&SR logging train operation that I have ever seen.
Even luckier for me was the fact that my family had camps on Hancock Pond and in 1969 my folks bought a lot right across the road from the B&SR roadbed near the Swamp Road.  At that time the West Sebago Station was still standing and I explored it as often as I could.  I walked the ROW every time we were at camp and back then there were a lot of ties and spikes still in situ and I collected quite a few.  And I still explore using the camp as my base whenever I go up.
If that wasn't enough I later found out that my great-great grandfather, Loren Merrifield, was Section Foreman on Section 2, which included the Hancock Pond area.  What fun to know that I have B&SR DNA!  There are photos of him in TFTTL.
Anyway, if any of you are still awake, let's set a date to get all of us together and take a B&SR field trip.  We really should pool all of our bits of knowledge and we could all learn a lot more about this great little road.  We could use our camp as our base if you like.  It's just about at the half way point on the RR.

Dana

Stewart Rhine replied:
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Dana, I really enjoyed reading your post.  It's interesting to see the history you and your family have with the B&SR/B&H.  I'll have to dig around and see what other B&SR stuff I have to post.

Mike Fox replied:
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Dana,
Don't worry about boring any of us. I like reading the short stories that some post on here. Wish I had one for myself. I just describe myself to others as a nut. In fact, that is my ebay user name. Miketrainnut. Anyhow, got anymore stories, type away.
Mike
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum