An Eastern Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Bangor and Aroostook Railroad


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The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad (BAR) is a defunct United States railroad company, that brought rail service to Aroostook County, Maine(wik). Operating from Bangor, Maine, the railroad ran north to the small town of Oakfield. From there a branch went east to Houlton, along the New Brunswick, Canada border, while the main ran north through the woods going all the way to the northern most point of Maine at Madawaska. Another line ran over to the largest town in the area, Presque Isle. The railroad operated from a yard just west of downtown Bangor, which was known as Northern Maine Junction. It was here that interchange was made with the Maine Central. Another interchange point along the railroad was with the Canadian Pacific at Brownsville Junction.(ba) Brightly painted BAR box cars attracted national attention in the 1950s. First-generation diesel locomotives operated on BAR until they were museum pieces.
Potatoes provided a stable income source through the great depression and provided 50% of the railroad's revenue following World War II. BAR had the 2nd largest United States railroad-owned reefer fleet (after Santa Fe) during the 1950s. BAR made an arrangement with Pacific Fruit Express (AAR reporting marks PFE) whereby PFE reefers shipped Maine potatoes during winter months and BAR reefers carried California produce during the summer and autumn. Potatoes started moving by truck following completion of the Interstate Highway System into northern Maine in the 1960s.(wik)
Although famous for its potatoes, the main source of traffic is pulpwood for the numerous paper mills. Millinocket is one such paper mill town. Many of the old potato reefers were converted to hauling logs by removing the roofs and extending the sides higher.(ba)
In the 30's the BAR was operating several trains to Maine points with


Bangor and Aroostiook
Bangor and Aroostook
April 29, 1929
connections and through sleeping cars to Boston. It's trains provided dining car and lounge car services, and many branches had coach trains and mixed trains.(rp)
Brief timeline of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad
1891 - The Company was incorporated to combine the lines of the former Bangor and Piscataquis Railroad and the Bangor and Katahdin Iron Works Railway. It was based in Bangor, Maine.
1894 -The lines extended from Bangor to Oakfield and Houlton
1895 - The line was extended from Houlton to Fort Fairfield and Caribou.
1895 - The BAR began hauling potatoes in heated box cars.
1896 - A parallel branch line was extended from Oakfield to Ashland.
1897 - A branch was built from Caribou to Limestone,
1899 - The main line extended from Caribou to Van Buren.
1900 - Inbound chemicals and outbound paper from mills on the Penobscot River at Millinocket and East Millinocket were major revenue sources for the BAR from 1900.
1902 - The Ashland Branch was extended to Fort Kent.
1905 - A southern extension was completed through Northern Maine Junction to Searsport on Penobscot Bay.
1907 - The Medford Cutoff from Packard to South Lagrange was completed.
1910 - A branch was built from Millinocket to a new paper mill in East Millinockett. Rails were extended up the St. John River from Van Buren through Madawaska and Fort Kent to St. Francis.
1910- Mapleton was connected to Stockholm and Presque Isle on the main line, and to Squapan on the Ashland branch.
1915 - An international bridge was constructed over the St. John River at Van Buren to connect with the Canadian National Railway.
1922 - The line from Brownville Junction to Katahdin Iron Works was abandoned, but the rails remained in place until 1933.
1925 - Another paper mill was built in Madawaska. Pulpwood and wood chips to the paper mills became increasingly important as potato loadings declined.
1942-45- The remote port facilities at Searsport were a preferred loading point for ammunition during World War II; and BAR transported heating coal and aircraft fuel to Loring AFB for Strategic Air Command bombers through the Cold War.
1950's - BAR painted 2,500 box cars in the red, white and blue colors of the US flag during the 1950s.
1960-70's - A less expensive oxide red paint scheme with large white reporting marks was adopted during the Vietnam War.
1961 - BAR passenger train service ended in 1961.
1962-64 - The Greenville branch was dismantled,
1970's - Several Aroostook County segments were abandoned when potato traffic disappeared.
1978 - Many EMD diesel-electric's, GP7's, F3's and BL2's operate on BAR mainline trains.(ba)
1995 - The BAR was acquired by Iron Road Railways.
2002 - The company was declared bankrupt.
2003 - The lines were sold to Rail World, Inc., which incorporated them into the newly-formed Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.
> BAR map
Bangor and Aroostook - 1929

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions
http://www.thebluecomet.com/bar.html(ba)
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 23, 2008, revised April 18, 2011