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Bridgton Research

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Mike Fox:
Recently sent around in an email in a group I belong to, I received permission to post this here. I know that some will find this information boring, but for the rest of us, it is another piece to the puzzle. Special thanks to Terry Smith for doing the research, along with the others he mentions, and allowing me to post it here.

Bridgton News available to view online.

The Bridgton Public Library has digitised its collection of local papers, and the Bridgton News from 1870 onwards is available to read on screen at

It has contemporary reports of many happenings of the B&SR and B&HR and in addition, it carries reports of interest to the fans of the other Maine Two Footers, such as George Mansfield reporting that the Sandy River RR had poor track and ballast but magnificent equipment, and reports of the opening of the Kennebec Central.

The Bridgton News of the period of interest to the Bridgton fan appears to have been a 4 page publication, always dated for the Friday of the week. Very occasionally extra pages were published, but note that sometimes the scanning runs pages and editions together – if the page or edition wanted is not apparently available then take a look at the previous and next available files.

All copies examined so far have had the then current B&SR Timetable at the top right hand of the back page, normally page 4.

For starters have a look at these pages;-
George Mansfield + B&B, page 2 column 1.
The story behind the B&SR.
First B&SR train arrives columns 2, 3 & 4. Track report column 6 under title Locomotive sparks.
Perley’s Mills derailment, column 4 top, also note column 3, loco recovered.

Enjoy if you visit,


(with due acknowledgements to my fellow researchers Wes Ewell and Rick Uskert)

Mike Fox:
And he also has done this...

Historic Scientific American article about the B&SR….…….or not?

For many years, I have wondered about a mention that Jones and other authors give in relation to the B&SR featuring in Scientific American in 1888. (eg Jones, Two Foot to the Lakes, page 41)

As Scientific American was one of my preferred choices of in-flight reading for my trans-Atlantic trips, I had imagined that this would be a juicy article, perhaps with line drawings and giving a proper contemporary technical overview of my favourite Maine Two Footer. I also looked forward to one day being able to track down the article. Well, that day dawned a few weeks ago – and I was initially disappointed.

What I found was that the Scientific American “article” was actually a letter, and one that was a copy of a copy of an account first published in the Boston Evening Transcript by a Mr C O Stickney, and refers to a visit by a distinguished party of South American visitors to inspect the B&SR in early December 1887. The visit was hosted by none other than George Mansfield.

Jones actually makes two more un-connected references to this visit in his book (pages 37 & 41).

The first mention of the South American visitors in the Bridgton News is from the 2nd December 1887 edition;-

A week later, the Bridgton News gave a report of the visit;-

Sometime after the visit, Mr C O Stickney wrote to the Boston Evening Transcript about the visit, but the letter was published on the 14th January 1888;-

Stickney letter published page 5, columns 2 + 3

An extract from Stickney’s letter, leaving out the flowery introduction, was published in The Railway Review of 21st January 1888, and this extract was then further repeated in the letters section of The  Scientific American in the 11th February 1888 edition.

The Railway Review of 21st January 1888;-

Stickney letter shown page 13 out of 14 of the download. Same page as the illustration of heavy floor emery grinder.

The Scientific American in the 11th February 1888 edition;-
This is a transcript of what was published in the Scientific American of 11th February 1888.

This gives a image of the letter on page 7 of 16 of the pdf download, page 85 of the actual publication.

So, while there was no juicy article with line drawings, the article did eventually present a reasonable contemporary technical overview of the B&SR with concise data.

Enjoy if you visit,


Philip Marshall:
Thank you Mike for sharing Terry's research! The February 1888 Scientific American piece is full of interesting details. For example, I had never known about the mineral wool (fiberglass?) insulation in the Laconia coaches on the B&SR.

Donald Ball's excellent book on George Mansfield goes into a little bit more detail on his attempts to build two-footers in Ecuador and Honduras. Of the two projects, the Honduras North Coast Railway was the one that came closer to actually being built, and Mansfield  spent the spring of 1888 in Honduras supervising construction. However, the money ran out pretty quickly and he was back in Boston by June of that year.

Steve Smith:
Thank you for posting these links, Mike. Fascinating stuff! Also fun to note the quaint writing style of that time, for example,"his optics dilated with astonishment..."

Glenn Christensen:
Great Resource!!!!  Thanks for posting it, Mike!


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