An Eastern regional Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Maine Central Railroad


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MEC 1937
Maine Central
August 9, 1937


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The Maine Central Railroad (MEC) was a railroad, primarily, in central and southern Maine. It was chartered in 1856 and began operations in 1862. It operated between South Portland, Maine, east to the Canada-U.S. border with New Brunswick, west to Vermont and north to Quebec. The Maine Central was created initially through the merger of the Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad and the Penobscot and Kennebec Railroad, resulting in a line from Danville (now Auburn) to Bangor. The line connected with the Grand Trunk Railway on its Portland-Chicago mainline at Danville and with the Bangor and Piscataquis Railroad in Bangor. As a result of its connection with the Grand Trunk, the Maine Central initially operated on a track gauge of 5 ft 6 in known as "Canadian" or "Portland" gauge.(wik) A large amount of MEC's freight traffic is forest products, a traffic base that was it's predecessors original intent. During the early part of the 20th century the Maine Central empire was at its greatest. The railroad owned a far-flung, 1,358 mile system; Portland, Maine to Vanceboro, on the Canadian border; Eastport, the easternmost trackage in the US; through the rugged White Mountains to St. Johnsbury, Vermont; and even all the way to Lime Ridge, Quebec, situated between Quebec City and Montreal.
MEC 48
Maine Central
April 25, 1948
The railroad owned two resorts -- the Mount Kineo House on Moosehead Lake and the Samoset at Rockland, it had built up a sizeable trucking and bus subsidiary, and even possessed a fleet of thirteen steamboats and four coastal ferries (jw).
In the 30's and 40's the Main Central operated many fine passenger trains with connections from as far away as Washington, DC and New York to all points in Maine and as far as Halifax, Nova Scotia. It gained notoriety by joining with the Boston and Maine Railroad in introducing one of the first lightweight streamlined
diesel-electric powered articulated trainsets, known as the "Flying Yankee" on the Boston-Portland-Bangor, Maine run. This train was Budd built, similar to the early Burlington "Zephyrs" with GM Winton diesel engine and GE electrics. Later "Flying Yankee's" used separate diesel-electric power, including EMD E7 locomotives. The MEC operated many fine name trains with Pullman sleepers, lounge cars, diners and coaches, including the "Pine Tree". "Kennebec Limited", "Bar Harbor Express", "Down Easter", "Gull", "Mate", "State of Maine Express" and others. By 1960 all of these trains were gone.
History of the Maine Central Railroad

1836 -The first railroad to be built in Maine was the Bangor and Piscataquis Canal and Railroad Company which completed its line from Bangor to Old Town. B&PC&R operated the first steam locomotive in Maine, the Pioneer, an 1832 product of Stephenson & Son in England. The primary role of the Bangor & Piscataquis was to transport lumber and other forest products, a traffic base that still accounts for a large amount of tonnage on the line to this day.
1856 - Maine Central Railroad chartered.
1862 - The Maine Central merged the Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad and the Penobscot and Kennebec Railroad, resulting in a line from Danville (now Auburn) to Bangor. The line connected with the Grand Trunk Railway on its Portland-Chicago mainline at Danville and with the Bangor and Piscataquis Railroad in Bangor. The MEC operated on a track gauge of 5 ft 6 in known as "Canadian" or "Portland" gauge.
cir 1871 - Maine Central purchased the Portland and Kennebec Railroad, which ran from Portland to Danville and was built to standard track gauge, since it connected with the Boston and Maine Railroad at Portland.
1871 - The Maine Central had completed its conversion to standard gauge to facilitate interchange of cars.
1871 - The MEC established rail service to the Penobscot Bay by leasing (for fifty years) the then just-completed 33 miles of track built by the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad (B&ML). The B&ML's grade ran the length of Waldo County from the port town of Belfast inland to Burnham Junction where its single track connected with the MEC's Portland to Bangor mainline. The Maine Central operated the road as its "Belfast Branch" for the next 55 years.
1882 - Through the course of several leases and mergers, the B&PC&R became part of the MEC. At the time, the railroads in Maine were a mix of standard and 5'6" gauges, and the choice between the two was more a matter of corporate rivalry and connections with freindly railroads than engineering benefits. Because the line connected with the existing 5'6" gauge Grand Trunk Railroad to Montreal, it too had been built to the wider gauge.
1882 - Maine Central leased the E uropean and North American Railway (E&NA) between Bangor and Vanceboro.
late 1800's - MEC expands rapidly by leasing and purchasing smaller less financially secure lines.
1884 - MEC is largest railroad in New England, operating a 524 mile system.
1888 - Maine Central purchased the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad, which ran from Portland, through the White Mountains of New Hampshire via Crawford Notch, and to St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where it connected with the Southeastern Railway (owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway). .
1889 -The Canadian Pacific Railway purchased trackage rights from Maine Central on the portion of the former E&NA from Mattawamkeag to Vanceboro. This Maine Central trackage formed part of the CPR's Montreal-Saint John mainline, upon completion of the International Railway of Maine. This line was an important rail route for Canadian war material heading to the port of Saint John for shipment overseas to Europe. In the months before the United States entered the war.
1911 - MEC acquires the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad.
1912 - The Bridgeton and Saco River acquired.
1914-17 - MEC transports Canadian troops although US was neutral during most of WW1.
1917 - USRA takes over MEC at a time when the MEC is at its zenith.
1920's - MEC began to shrink due to ever-increasing competition from automobiles and trucks. The MEC-controlled two-foot gauge lines fell into receivership.
1925-26 - The MEC sold what is now the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad to the city of Belfast.
late 1920-30's - The railroad made a few additional acquisitions, but discontinued many other routes and services.
1927 - MEC discontinued its ferry operations.
1931- Coastal steamer service shut down.
1932 - Gasoline powered Whitcomb locomotive is first non-steam locomotion on the MEC, followed by an oil-electric doodlebug.
1933 - MEC forms joint management agreement with Boston and Maine and they open Boston-Maine Airways.
1935 - MEC co-finances, with Boston and Maine, the lightweight streamlined articulated train set the Budd/EMD/GE built "Flying Yankee" on the Portland-Boston run.
1936-38 - MEC subsidiary, the Portland Terminal receives 4 Alco HH-600's.
1939 - MEC received 2 HH-600's.
1939-42 - MEC acquires only 3 more diesels before War Production Board began limiting production.
1940 - B-M Airlines sold, becomes Northeast Airlines with MEC/BM controlling interest.
1943 - Holdings in NE Air reduced by CAB order.
1945 - MEC acquires new diesel switchers.
1946 - MEC acquires 4 EMD E7 passenger diesels.
1947-48 - MEC acquires 10 EMD F3 freight units, and 3 more E7's.
1951 - MEC had by now acquired 20 EMD GP units.
1954 - Last steam passenger run on MEC.
1957 - MEC still operating through sleeping car service from Ellsworth to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, but passenger service on the Pine Tree Route was short-lived.
1955 - MEC completed a purchase of the E&NA line from Bangor to Vanceboro which it had leased in 1882.
1960 - The very last Maine Central passenger trains operated on Labor Day, September 5, 1960. F3 headed the last Portland-Bangor run and a GP7 brought the return train back to Portland.
post 1960 -, MEC sold off its big E7s and much of its approximately 50 unit passenger fleet, including a dozen Pullman-Standard streamlined cars which were only thirteen years old.
1974 - Maine Central sold its trackage between Mattawamkeag and Vanceboro to Canadian Pacific while retaining trackage rights from CPR over the section of line.
1975 - The Maine Central took delivery of 10 "Independence Class" GE U18Bs. These "Baby Boats", each named for a famous person or battle during the American Revolution, soon became perhaps the best known locomotives ever to wear the Pine Tree herald. They also proved to be the last locomotives purchased new by the MEC. The railroad then turned to buying used power, picking up four more GP7s and a group of U25Bs.
1980 - The last locomotive acquired by an independent Maine Central was #450, which was acquired from Algoma Central Railway. It was MEC's first GP9, and also held the distinction of being the last GP9 ever built.
1980 - The Maine Central Railroad was purchased by US Filter Corporation. That company was merged into another corporation that evidently did not want to be in the railroad business.
1981 - The Maine Central was again sold to Guilford Transportation Industries holding company whose vision was to construct a strong regional system in the Northeast to compete with Conrail.
1983 - Guilford begins to reduce size of MEC and Mountain Division is closed.
1984 - The MEC, Boston and Maine, and Delaware and Hudson railroads were operating run-through trains and consolidating shop facilities, although they technically remained separate railroads.
1985 - The abandonment's continued into 1985, when the 56-mile Rockland Branch and 133-mile Calais Branch were both abandoned. The Calais Branch abandonment isolated the line from Calais to the paper mill in Woodland, which was still in service. To preserve service to the mill, operation of the branch was contracted to an obscure B&M subsidiary called the Springfield Terminal Railway. This would prove to be a glimpse of the future of the entire Maine Central.
1986 - Guilford cuts maintenance and lays off many. Road deteriorates.
1986 - The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Engineers, which represented the MEC's track workers, struck Maine Central and Portland Terminal. The strike soon spread to all unions on MEC, and spilled over to sister railroads B&M and D&H as well.
1987 - Springfield terminal takes over maintenance and operations in move to further reduce costs of operations, through lower labor costs.
post 1987 - What was the Maine Central Railroad has continued to operate under Guilford control as Springfield Terminal Railway's District One. No further major line abandonment's have occurred, and the labor unrest and frequent operational changes of the late 1980s have quieted. Today's operations have settled into a fairly regular and predictable pattern. Track maintenance is still below what is needed, and the entire MEC carries speed limits under 40mph, but recent track work on parts of the MEC carries promise of more frequent investment in the physical plant. Several Maine Central branch lines which had been abandoned are still in use by short line railroads, and other lines, most notably the Calais Branch, are being preserved while plans are actively drawn up to restore rail service in the future. Recently, a portion of the former MEC Lower Road through Augusta was restored to service under the auspices of the Maine Coast Railroad, which also operates the former Rockland Branch.(jw)
1994 - The Conway Scenic Railroad acquired a portion of the Mountain Division line and began running tourist trains there.
2006 - Guilford Transportation Industries officially changed its name to Pan Am Systems, reflecting GTI's purchase of Pan American World Airways in 1998. The rail division changed its name to Pan Am Railways (PAR). PAR began repainting locomotives in the sky-blue Pan Am colors shortly thereafter.

MEC map 1948 Maine Central timetable map - 1948


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- Various editions
http://home.sprynet.com/~jwhite07/mec/mec.htm Jonathan N. White.(jw)
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Copyright Richard Parks, April 29, 2009, revised July 1, 2011