An Eastern regional Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain Railroad
St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County Railroad (1948)


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SJ&LC 1948
St, Johnsbury &
Lake Champlain
September 26, 1948
SJ&LC 1948
The St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad, in 1948 renamed the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County Railroad (StJ&LC), was a railroad constructed in the 1870's as the Vermont Division of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railway to connect the Great Lakes with the seaport of Portland, Maine. The westerly connection with the Great Lakes was never made. The eastern end of the Vermont Division was leased to the Maine Central Railroad in 1912, and the remaining 96 miles of the line, from St. Johnsbury, Vermont west to Swanton, became a subsidiary of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The B&M operated it as the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad after 1925. It was reorganized as the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County Railroad in 1948.(wik)(rp)
Freight traffic was 30% inbound commodities, 20% outbound dairy products to Boston, 15% outbound forest products, and 25% outbound limestone, talc and asbestos. The remaining 10% was bridge line traffic (westbound paper and eastbound feed) for the Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division. Six 70-ton General Electric Diesel locomotives replaced steam locomotives over the line's light rail and covered bridges.(wik) During the 30's and 40's the SJ&LC operated passenger and mixed train service from St. Johnsbury to Cambridge Jct., where it connected to the Central Vermont's Burlington branch, and mixed trains west to Swanton near the CV mainline to St. Johns, Quebec.(rp) Passenger service ended in 1956. Trucks had taken all of the milk traffic by 1961, but bridge line traffic had increased six-fold following the 1953 dissolution of Maine Central's joint operating agreement with Boston and Maine Railroad. Light rail and covered bridges prevented the line from accepting new heavier "incentive" freight car loadings. The covered bridges were replaced so worn out light diesel locomotives could be replaced by larger locomotives; but track conditions deteriorated under the heavier loads.
The State of Vermont purchased the line in 1973. The line was then operated by Morrison-Knudsen as the Vermont Northern Railroad for a time. In 1978, local shippers took over the operation and it became the Lamoille Valley Railroad. In 1989, the line was leased to a Florida company and was operated by them until major flooding in 1995 and
SJ&LC 1951
St, Johnsbury &
Lamoille County
April 29, 1951
SJ&LC 1951
1997 damaged the line so much that it was not profitable to repair the track. In 2002, the state of Vermont started converting the 96 mile route into a recreational trail and created the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.(wik)
History of the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain Railway
St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County (1948)

1864 - The Essex County Railroad was chartered to run from St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad, east to Lunenburg on the border with New Hampshire.
1866 - The Montpelier and St. Johnsbury Railroad was chartered to run west from St. Johnsbury to Montpelier.
1867 -The Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad was chartered on February 11 to run from Portland, Maine to Fabyan (a junction in Carroll, New Hampshire), where the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad would continue west.(The P&O was planned to connect Portland, Maine to Ogdensburg, New York, but this plan failed).
1867 - The Lamoille Valley Railroad was chartered to run from West Danville on the planned M&SJ northwest to Swanton.
1875 - The P&O opened on August 16.
1875 - The Essex, the M&SJ and the LV are consolidated on August 7 to form the Vermont Division of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad, and the construction that had started was continued, except that the part of the M&SJ west of West Danville was never built.
1876 - The Montreal, Portland and Boston Railway opened from Montreal, Quebec to the national border, and was planned to continue into Vermont as a branch of the P&O.
1877 - Construction on the Vermont Division of the P&O was completed. To connect between the original P&O trackage and the Vermont division, the company at first used trackage rights over the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad from Fabyan to Dalton, New Hampshire, but soon built its own alignment. West of Swanton, the P&O was allied with the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad, running west from Rouses Point, New York to Ogdensburg, and used the Vermont and Canada Railroad to access it.
1877 - Just after completion of the Vermont Division the P&O went bankrupt, was taken over by the receiver on October 19.
1880 - The Vermont Division was reorganized as the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad on January 30.
1882 - On August 9, 1882 the Montreal, Portland and Boston Railway leased the SJ&LC but it was soon taken over by the Boston and Lowell Railroad.
1884 - The main division was reorganized on June 8 as the Portland and Ogdensburg Railway, the Vermont Division remaining as the SJ&LC.
1887 - The Boston & Maine leased St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad.
1888 - On August 20, 1888 Maine Central leased the P&O.
1912 - The SJ&LC (part of the old P&O Vermont Division) is leased to the Maine Central by the B&M.
1927 - On August 1 the Vermont Division lease was terminated, and a new lease was made on only the part east of St. Johnsbury. The line west to Swanton remained as the SJ&LC.
1930-48 - Passenger service from St. Johnsbury 64 miles to Cambridge Jct. Is one passenger and one mixed, and from the Jct. to Swanton, only mixed train service.
1953 - Bridge freight traffic increases as B&M and MEC dissolve their joint operating agreement, but light rail and track conditions prevent heavier loads.
1948 - The SJ&LC is reorganized as the St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County Railroad (SJ&LC).
1956 - All passenger service terminated.
1973 - The State of Vermont purchased the SJ&LC and renamed it the Lamoille Valley Railroad and traffic is mostly local shippers.
1977-79 - Most of the ties and ballast (crushed stone base) were replaced, and most of the rail was upgraded to 100 and 105 lb material. Unfortunately, soon after this the railroad fell on difficult times due to various circumstances including the rerouting of New England railroad traffic previously traveling the line, and the loss of local freight industry such as the asbestos mines in Lowell and the talc plant in Johnson.
1989 - The line was leased by the State of Vermont to a Florida company. The level of operation continued to decline.
1994 - Operations were halted.
1995 & 97 - Major floods caused several washouts of varying severity, primarily along the line between Wolcott and Hardwick.
1998 - The State of Vermont put the use of the line out to bid, and selected four finalists seeking to utilize various portions of the line. This process was stalled by various legal issues between the State and leaseholder Clyde Forbes as well as some uncertainty and outstanding issue with the proposals.
1999-2001 - Use as a rail trail or upgrade to rail use is investigated.
2002 - The state of Vermont started converting the 96 mile route into a recreational trail and created the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.

ReadingMap St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain
The middle horizontal line from St. Johnsbury to Swanton


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- Various editions
Reading Company Technical and Historical Society(ths)
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 1, 2008, revised Oct. 10,2011