Saturday, August 12, 2006

Narrow gauge in Portland, Maine.

The State of Maine once had an extensive system of narrow gauge railroads; many of them, as in the Pacific Northwest, serving the logging industry. A small part of this system remains on the north side of Portland, preserved under the aegis of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. and Museum. The MNGRR runs trains from just outside its museum and headquarters north along the Portland waterfront and back. When we arrived last weekend, a train loaded with tourists was about to leave. At the end was this handsome passenger car - caboose combination that formerly served in northern Maine on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes.

I walked to the front of the train, where I found this small steeple-cab diesel about to be coupled for departure. Note the formidable looking cluster of airhorns on this little engine. We then went into the museum, located in the red brick building in the background at the right. After we had looked at the many exhibits there, we came out to find that the train had departed. On a side track were these well-preserved freight cars. The tanker evidently dates to before the merger of Standard Oil Company of New York ("SOCONY") with Vacuum Oil Company to form the awkwardly named Socony-Vacuum, which later sensibly became Mobil. This later merged with Exxon, the lineal descendent of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, to form Exxon-Mobil. Thus was the work of trust-busters of almost a century ago partially undone.

If you look at the empty track in the foreground, you can get a feel for how narrow it is: only two feet separate the rails.

Continued here.

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