Author Topic: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!  (Read 39372 times)

Allan Fisher

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We had a visit from a friend up Machias way, and he says that there is a long industrial track running off the Calais Branch running from Rt 1 to Machiasport that might be 55 to 65 pound rail

Is there someone that could go up and have a look-see, take some pictures and measure the rail.

Supposedly this rail is not part of the scrapping of the Calais Branch.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 08:28:07 PM by Ed Lecuyer »
Allan Fisher

Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Sources for 60 pound rail
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2008, 03:23:48 PM »
I work with digital topo maps that often have clues about forgotten branch lines. While I have never been to Machias in my life, I did find a couple of interesting things on the maps.

(Note: I have traced over the rail lines - or trails - with a red dotted line so to highlight the route.)


Map 1: Downtown Machais:

There was a branch that left the main line, curved southwest, crossed route 1 and ran parallel with it. The topo indicates a siding where I have noted on the map. There was also a shorter branch to the north. A historical topo from 1918 shows multiple tracks crossing Route 1 to a small yard/industry. Unfortunately, current aerial photo seems to reveal a good deal of construction in the area that may have obliterated these branches. Regardless, it might be worth a look.


Map 2: Whitneyville Industrial Track:

West of Machais is Whitneyville which was also served by a spur. Again, it's probably gone, but worth a look.


Where it gets interesting is maps 3 and 4. Neither actually show an official railroad grade. However, given their shape and the surrounding topographic features for fills and cuts, they very well could be. (They also could be trolley lines, which are often omitted from topo maps.) I checked our historic map collection and there is no indication on either of these lines that they were or were not railroad related. The first is my best guess to a branch from a point near Machais towards Machaisport.


Map 3: Machaisport Branch?

Unfortunately, as annotated on the map, this trail does not actually connect to Machaisport. Instead, it starts and stops, seemingly, in the middle of nowhere. Does anyone know if a railroad (or trolley line) ever used this alignment just south of Machias?


Map 4: Jonesboro Branch?

Finally, this line has the look of a spur, especially how it curves away from the Calias branch. However, it also turns into a dirt road (which is shown on the historic topo maps.)


I don't know if any of these help any would be rail-hunters.
Ed Lecuyer
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Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Sources for 60 pound rail
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2008, 07:00:18 PM »
Ooh, this gets real interesting.

According to:
http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Maine-Central-Railroad-Company-Company-History.html

Quote
[...]One of the most important of these companies, the Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad Company, had constructed an eight-mile rail line to ship lumber from the burgeoning mills in Whitneyville to the shipping facilities at Machiasport. Like many other small railroad lines, the Whitneyville and Machiasport would soon become part of the Maine Central Railroad.
[...]
The Maine Central Railroad leased and would operate 163 miles of railroad track from Vanceboro to Bangor, Maine. Although the track of the Whitneyville and Machiasport was sold during the 1890s because of the decline of the lumber business in the state of Maine, additional acquisitions and leases of rail lines led to a continued expansion of Maine Central Railroad operations.


While I find it unlikely that rail on a line abandoned in 1890 would be still on the ground, the route I indicate in Map 3 would easily be part of an 8 mile line from Whitneyville to Machiasport. (Continue NW from where the trail ends and you bump straight into Whitneyville. Follow the natural grade from the other end and it leads into Machaisport. Total distance: 8 miles.)

More info on the Whitneyville and Machiasport:
http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/wmme.Html
This indicates that the line was scrapped in 1907.

Worth a look? Maybe...
Ed Lecuyer
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Stephen Hussar

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Re: Sources for 60 pound rail
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2008, 07:31:48 PM »
Great work Ed, thanks for that posting!

Over in New Hampshire, remants of the East Branch & Lincoln RR can still be found in the now dense woods of the White Mountain National Forest. Check out the harp switchstand below! No reason this couldn't happen in Maine too...like the Eagle Lake & West Branch. Did somebody say field trip?!



Photographer unknown.

 

Mike Fox

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Re: Sources for 60 pound rail
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2008, 07:48:43 PM »
I wish Machias was a little closer. I would love to go. I'll keep it in mind for a future free day.
Mike
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Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Sources for 60 pound rail
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2008, 08:25:07 PM »
It looks like the claim of rail in the ground can be substantiated!!!

According to a poster at:
http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=126&t=36615

He reports:
Quote
If you go southwest of Machias on Route 1 and turn left on Roque Bluffs Road, there's a track into the woods on the left just past the junction. I thought that this was the route of the [Whitneyville and Machiasport] railroad, but I could be wrong.

Well, some more Google-ing and I came up with a map of the railroad:
http://oldrailhistory.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=258&Itemid=293

Which lines up perfectly with the topo map I offered earlier. Here is the full route:



So, it looks like a legitimate lead. However, who knows what sort of shape that rail would be in. It might not even be rail, because it appears that the W&M was laid with Strap Iron rail!

Incidentally, the Lion, the locomotive enshrined at the Maine State Museum, ran on this road.
Ed Lecuyer
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Josh Botting

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2008, 06:41:02 PM »
Allan,

I believe possibly the same man dropped off a book Washington County RR's on Sunday.

It has been over 15 years since I have been that far down east.  I should go.







Mike Fox

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2008, 07:47:30 PM »
Would be a good trip to go on with a metal detector and a shovel. Dig some test holes. But I suspect that if the rail has been buried for that long, the rail would be so rusty, it might be prone to failure if we try to use it. The web or Base would be the first to fail. Still might be good to verify this. Then go from there.
Mike
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Mike Fox

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2008, 08:52:12 PM »
I have been doing a little reading lately. I have come to the conclusion that what rail is being spoke of here is not from the Machiasport Railroad. That railroad was built with strap rail 5/8 of an inch thick by 2 1/2 inches wide, laid on 3 inch joists. When the railroad ceased operations, all Iron including the rail was sold to a scrap dealer in Portland. So the Industrial spur theory is probably more accurate. Still worth researching more.
Mike
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Josh Botting

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2008, 12:31:20 AM »
Does anyone know if this is the same RR which the Lion came from?

jkb

Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 08:23:45 AM »
Does anyone know if this is the same RR which the Lion came from?

Yes it is.
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Mike Fox

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2008, 06:50:20 PM »
Talk about rough track. Don't back up!!  You can clearly see the strap rail they used. Definately not 60 lb stuff.
Mike
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Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2008, 07:15:57 PM »
I think I read somewhere that they may have replaced some of the strap rail with traditional rails. Maybe the scrapper lifted the strap rail but (for some unknown reason) left some of the newer rail on the ground.

Interesting to speculate. I'm very curious if there is any truth to the rumor that there may be rail there - regardless of type or usability by the WW&F.
Ed Lecuyer
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Josh Botting

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Re: Whitneyville and Machiasport Railroad: Old rail still in the ground?!!
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2008, 10:48:49 AM »
The Lion  resides in the Maine State Museum, and was formerly located in Crosby Labs, at UMAINE.

http://www.maine.gov/museum/exhibits/mainebounty.html

see link to picture at the bottom of the page:


Matthew Gustafson

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Re: Lion restoration?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2008, 10:39:54 PM »
Maine's bicentennial arrives in 2020. That gives Jason a little over 11 years to restore the Lion to operation  ;)


What is that engine? Plus if thats a 2 footer then thats the bigest one ive ever seen! :o :o :o :o :o
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