History of Trains in Maine

For 125 years, between the arrival of the first train in 1842 and 1967 when the Grand Trunk Railway abandoned its service to Montreal on the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, there had been a continuous presence of passenger trains in Maine's largest city. Most of the railroad activity in Portland revolved around agricultural goods bound for export and import freight from Europe, while passenger activities were mostly confined to intercity travel from Portland to Boston, Montreal, Nova Scotia, and points west. It could be said that local passengers were carried on long-distance trains as something of an afterthought. In Portland's past, train schedules were designed with intercity travel rather than daily commuting in mind.

The first railroad to reach Portland was the Portland, Saco & Portsmouth Railway (PS&P), whose joint operation with Eastern Railroad of Massachusetts began in 1842. The PS&P's main terminal in Portland was on Commercial Street south of Union Street. Six passenger trains per day connected Portland with East Boston. The Boston & Maine Railroad (B&M) arrived in 1843 (via PS&P to Portland), followed by the Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad (A&SL) in 1848 (with trains from India Street in Portland to Yarmouth and ultimately to Montreal in 1859). Services to Auburn, Lewiston, and Waterville began in 1849 on lines of the original Maine Central (MEC) system that are now the (GRS) main line to Lewiston, Waterville and Bangor. The route to Brunswick opened in 1847 as a portion of the Kennebec & Portland Railroad which was subsequently subsumed by the MEC and GRS.

Portland once boasted four passenger rail stations: Commercial Street and India Street (both on the water front), Preble Street on the north side, and Union Station to the west. In the early days, trains from the south on the PS&P terminated at Commercial Street south of Union Street while Grand Trunk trains from the north terminated on the waterfront at India Street. In 1873, when the B&M completed their line to Portland, their northern terminal on Saint John Street was named Portland Union Station. With the growth of the B&M, the Commercial Street terminal lost its prominence in the 1870s, and was completely abandoned in 1894. The Preble Street terminal was constructed to serve the Portland & Rochester (P&R), which eventually became the Worcester, Nashua, and Portland division of the Boston & Maine. It was abandoned in 1900, after which P&R trains were routed to Union Station. By the time the Grand Trunk opened a new terminal on its India Street site in 1903, Portland was down to only two passenger stations: the B&M/MEC Portland Union Station on Saint John's Street reconstructed in 1888, and the Grand Trunk Terminal on the waterfront at India Street. The current Portland Terminal of the Amtrak Downeaster service was a brand-new facility constructed specifically for the Downeaster on the former Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad.

Historical Maine Train Routes

Historical Maine Train Routes

Obviously the most ridden train in service in Maine is The Downeaster . The Downeaster is a 116-mile (187 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak and managed by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA), connecting North Station in Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine. stopping at Wells, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and finally Portland. The passenger train extends service to Freeport and Brunswick in 2012.

Check out www.traintomaine.com

Maine Eastern Railroad (reporting mark MERR) is a railroad that operates in coastal Maine between Brunswick and Rockland on the state-owned Rockland Branch rail line. Maine Eastern connects with Pan Am Railways at Brunswick. The company provides freight service year-round, and passenger service seasonally between Brunswick and Rockland with former New Haven/Amtrak EMD FL-9 locomotives and stainless steel streamlined passenger cars. Maine Eastern is the successor to Safe Handling Rail, which took over operation of the MaineDOT-owned line when the Maine Coast Railroad chose not to bid on a new contract. The Maine Eastern passenger fleet is comprised of restored streamlined stainless steel railcars from the Art Deco era of the 1940's and 1950's and recently fully rebuilt to today's standards of safety and comfort. The 54- and 58-seat coaches are accompanied by a restored railway dining car that provides passengers with food & beverage served cafe style, and is the social setting for lively conversation about the scenery and historic highlights of the 57-mile route. Stops include Brunswick, Bath, Wiscassett, and Rockland.

Boothbay Railway Village is an educational, historical and cultural museum whose mission is to collect, preserve and demonstrate railroading, antique automobiles and small town rural life with an emphasis on Maine between 1850 and 1950. Its continuing mission will be to develop and promote educational programs and services.

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is located in Portland. The museum was founded in 1993 and contains a collection of rolling stock and artifacts from the 2 ft (610 mm) gauge narrow gauge railroads that ran in the state of Maine. The museum also operates a 1½ mile long railroad that runs along the waterfront of Casco Bay. A variety of restored stock is used to run passenger services on the railroad.

Just recently there was also discussion of a New Rail From Lewiston/Auburn to Montreal connecting from Boston. see story here

586 Wiscasset Road, Route 27, Boothbay ME 04537 • 207.633.4727

Nowhere else in New England can you experience a steam train ride, historical village exhibits and an outstanding collection of more than 60 antique vehicles in one museum. The Boothbay Railway Village offers the unique environment of a rural village, beautiful gardens, and a village green surrounded by historic structures such as the 1847 Town Hall or the 1923 Spruce Point Chapel.

The Village exhibits are fascinating and informative, evocative of our rich New England heritage. Situated on thirty acres and housed in 28 exhibit buildings, the large collection of exhibits includes all aspects of rural town life, consisting of various types of transportation to lessons taught in a one-room schoolhouse. A variety of special events bring history to life with demonstrations and activities making for a memorable experience.

The Boothbay Railway Village is an educational, historical and cultural museum whose mission is to collect, preserve and demonstrate railroading, antique automobiles, small town rural life with an emphasis on Maine between 1850 and 1950.

Antique Autos

Village Exhibit

The Village Green and the surrounding buildings provide the museum with the contextual elements of history. Whether it is a lecture series in the 1847 Town Hall or one of many events that take place on the green, the village is the heart of the museum and its activities.

Comprised of many historically significant structures that house artifacts and displays of rural Maine from 1850 through the mid 1900's, the village can transport the visitor to a time well before the digital age. The village has 13 buildings from Maine railroads including two stations, several car houses and a very unique octagonal crossing shanty once located in Portland, Maine.

Whether it is a field of antique automobiles, antique tractors, a vibrant craft fair or the Day Out With Thomas™, the village green and its ambiance is unmatched for it uniqueness and historical beauty.

Railroad Exhibits

The museum has over three-quarters of a mile of two foot gauge track. Having three steam locomotives available for service along with vintage and replications of Maine narrow gauge rolling stock makes for an authentic experience of railroad history.

Offering the opportunity to ride through our village and visit an authentic station lobby of one of our two historic Maine railroad stations is only a part of your visit to the museum. Also there is an extensive photographic and artifactual exhibit of the history of Maine two-footers.

In addition to re-creating Maine's narrow gauge historical steam trains, the museum offers rural village exhibits in a variety of historic buildings and an exceptional antique vehicle exhibit.

Model Raiiroad Exhibit

The model railroad exhibit is being constructed for the Boothbay Railway Village to portray railroading in Maine during the 1950s—1960s timeframe which will allow both steam and diesel locomotives.  The current HO scale layout has been under construction since the fall of 2006 and will take several years to complete.  The exhibit is housed in a replica of the Maine Central freight station in Bowdoin, ME located at the top of the hill near the Antique Auto Exhibit.

All of the work on the layout is done by volunteers, and it is funded by annual dues, donations, sales of donated model railroad equipment, and an annual raffle. The group is always interested in donations of model railroad layouts, locomotives, rolling stock,  buildings, scenery materials, tools or reference materials. These items will be used on our current layout or sold at model train shows.  For more information see our Raffle Page.

The building is handicap accessible with a short ramp at the entrance and aisles designed to ADA standards

Hours and Admission updated Events Here

Become a Member!

Amtrak Downeaster Maine Narrow Gauge Railway Maine Eastern Railway Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railway Boothbay Railway Village Trolley Museum Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway Museum Downeast Scenic

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