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Gibbs Avenue Museum and Blynn Davis Memorial Archives

As of January 7: Tuesday & Thursday 1-4, and by appointment or chance (look for the "Open" flag). To better serve you, we strongly recommend that researchers contact us in advance.

Narramissic

Closed for the season, but will re-open this spring, with an expanded schedule in the summer. Please feel free to enjoy the grounds during daylight hours.

Paid Summer Internship available this summer at Narramissic. Contact us for details. read more ...

Narramissic Barn Stabilized -- For Now

Preliminary work has been done to stabilize the barn at Narramissic Eric Beane of The Barn Boys has re-set all of the posts underneath the structure, most of which were seriously compromised in one way or another. In one instance, the post was simply hanging in thin air: there was a gap between the bottom of the post and the granite footing that was big enough for a grown man to pass his hand through.

 

Although Eric’s work should make the barn safe to use again for public events, the long-term solution is much more involved. The foundation walls, which have shifted dramatically from the action of water draining down the hillside and off the roof, all need to be re-built. There is a similar problem with a portion of the foundation under the house, and last year, these conditions led Maine Preservation to designate Narramissic as an Endangered Historic Resource.  “While we are, obviously, distressed that the situation has reached this point, we are approaching this as an opportunity to raise awareness of the wonderful resource we have in Narramissic and the importance of preserving it as a place to come and learn about nineteenth-century farm life, and enjoy a dramatic and beautiful preserved landscape” commented Ned Allen, the society’s Executive Director. “We are gathering the information we need to initiate the process of rebuilding the foundations, designing the drainage systems, putting the work out to bid, and undertaking the major fund-raising campaign that this will require. We expect this to be a project that will be completed in phases, which will probably take several years to complete,” he added. Don Perkins, author of The Barns of Maine, has posted a video about the situation on YouTube, titled “1830s Temperance Barn, Bridgton.”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rpp6Avy608&feature=youtu.be

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Temperance Barn Closed: Narramissic on Endangered List

See the video, thanks to Don Perkins, author of The Barns of Maine: Our History, Our Stories  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rpp6Avy608&feature=youtu.be

We were recently advised that we should not use the Temperance Barn at Narramissic until we can stabilize the foundation. As a result, Maine Preservation recently added Narramissic to its list of Maine's Most Endangered Historic Resources. In its statement about Narramissic, the preservation organization stated, "Due to fiscal constraints and a lack of volunteers or paid staff, Narramissic Farm suffers from deferred maintenance. While Bridgton Historical Society, which took ownership in 1986, is a fine steward, the property urgently needs additional support." (See "Donate" button below right!). We are in the early stages of planning the restoration and fund-raising campaign that we will need to undertake to pay for it, and we are confident that we will emerge as a far stronger organization as a result.

Over the past year or so we have become increasingly aware that there were problems with the foundation. It all started when volunteers made some repairs and adjustments to the door, which was getting very hard to open and close. They noticed that the real culprit wasn’t the door itself, but the fact that the structure had shifted off its foundations. The Society consulted with several historic preservation consultants about the problems facing the 175-year-old foundation, and a recent report by Christopher Closs of Maine Preservation warned that the situation has reached the point where concern for public safety dictates the drastic action.  

The barn, approximately 40 x 60 feet, was built in the 1830s by George Fitch, son-in-law of the house’s original owner, William Peabody. It is known locally as the “Temperance Barn,” since according to local tradition, it was raised, during a period of religious revival, without the barrel of rum that was usually part of such occasions.  Mr. Fitch was an ambitious builder, constructing this large barn next to an existing one. A few years later, he decided that it needed a cellar; he built a large wooden screw, lifted the barn up and built the foundation of huge granite slabs that he quarried from the hill behind the house. The barn has stood, through wind, rain, and sun and through good times and bad, since then.   

The barn is featured prominently in Don Perkins recent book, The Barns of Maine, as it is a noteworthy specimen of a mid-19th century barn with a very compelling story.  The barn has been used over the years as a venue for numerous events and programs, from scholarly lectures and fine artisans shows to community suppers and dances.  But no barn--or other historic structure--stands forever without repairs. It was re-sided in the late 1930s after Margaret Monroe purchased the property, and the society has worked over the years at preserving the structure, most recently by replacing the roof. Major work was also undertaken when the farm was donated to the Society in 1987. The floor was replaced at that time, and structural repairs straightened the barn and reinforced the supporting posts. Those repairs have lasted for a quarter of a century, but 25 years of water draining off the Fitch’s Hill has taken its toll, washing out the soil under the foundation.  

To read more about Maine Preservation and their Most Endangered list, visit them at http://mainepreservation.org/.

 

 

 

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Bridgton & Saco River RR Page

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Your webmaster has completed transferring all photos and text concerning the Narrow Gauge Railroad from the old BHS website.  Please check out the new layout and visit some of the other links to other NGRR websites. The WW & FRY site is of particular interest as it includes a section on the B & SR RR in its discussion forum.

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 You are here: B & SR RR   Search  
Bridgton & Saco River Narrow Gauge Railroad

Established in 1882, the Bridgton and Saco River Railroad was a narrow-gauge railway that connected Bridgton, Maine with Hiram, which was located on the standard-gauge Maine Central Railroad (for freight transfer, cars had to be off-loaded from one to the other on parallel sidings). The line was an important link for the Bridgton-Lakes Region area, connecting it to the outside world for both freight and passengers, which encouraged the summer tourist trade.

In 1898 the line was extended from Bridgton to Harrison, at the northern end of Long Lake. The Maine Central Railroad purchased the B&SRR in 1912, but by the 1920s competition from trucks and buses severely cut into the railroad's financial well-being. Re-organized in 1927 as the Bridgton and Harrison Railroad, it operated until 1941, when the equipment was sold and the track torn up and sold for scrap. Much of the rolling stock went to the Edaville Railroad, an outdoor museum in Massachusetts, and is now on display and in use at the Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum in Portland, Maine.

The Bridgton Historical Society holds a variety of documents and artifacts relating to the Bridgton narrow gauge railroad. A large, recently acquired collection (96.14, described below) of business papers augments other documentary holdings, photographs, an important scrapbook, and a large quantity of artifacts and memorabilia, some of which is displayed courtesy of Downeasters Depot. Detailed Right of Way and track maps of the line complete these important holdings.

Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Papers (96.14)

This collection consists of approximately 1,600 pieces (4 linear feet) of business records generated by the Bridgton & Saco River Railroad, or by other companies (mostly the Maine Central Railroad) doing business with the Bridgton & Saco River. The records detail passenger and freight business at the various stations along the line, and with other lines, 1890-1900 (primarily 1897-1900). Documents from the B&SRR include Accounts of Merchandize Received & Forwarded; Reports of Tickets Sold; Abstracts of Footings and Way-bills, etc. The collection includes similar documents generated by the Maine Central Railroad, as well as divisions of revenue and corrections in interline ticket sales.

A few of the documents in the collection were generated by other companies, including the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co., 1900; Boston and Maine Railroad, 1890-1900; International Steamship Co., 1890, 1897; New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co, 1899-1900; Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 1900; Portland and Rochester Railroad, 1898; Portland and Rumford Falls Railway, 1897, 1898; Portland Steamship Company, 1890-1900; Thomas Cook and Son, 1899, 1900; Lake Shore and Michigan Southern; American Express Co., and several other railroads.

Gordon MacLeod Scrapbook,
"Two-Footers Down in Maine"

Compiled by Gordon Bird MacLeod,and donated by him to the Bridgton Historical Society in 1993

This is a 12" X 16" scrapbook of approximately 100 pages, containing roughly 240 photographs, numerous scale drawings and blueprints, along with clippings and assorted ephemera relating primarily to narrow-gauge railroads in Maine. Although the bulk of the material deals with the Bridgton & Saco River Railroad (Bridgton & Harrison Railroad after 1927), there is a significant amount of material dealing with other lines as well, including the Monson Railroad, the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railroad, the Kennebec Central Railroad, and the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad. There is also a small amount of material relating to the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad.

See Also:

B & SRR Track Map, Primary Sheets
B & SRR R.O.W. & Track Maps
Misc. docs. In Bridgton Machine & Lumber Co. Coll., ca. 1910-1917

 

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Engine #5, the last steam locomotive built by the Portland Company (in 1906).

 

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Interior of B&SRR Car - Everett Brown & Guy Andrews

 

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Engine #8, the largest of the B&SRR locomotives, stands "at the ready" for its next job. The last narrow gauge engine built for statewide service, Engine #8 weighed 38 tons (compared to the road's first engine which weighed only 15 tons) and was built by Baldwin in 1924. It became the "workhorse" of the road and once carried a record 14 carloads of coal. It is now, almost 80 years later, still turning in a stellar performance at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. and Museum in Portland, ME, thanks to the perseverance of Phineas Sprague, Jr.

 

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The busy Bridgton Yard during its heyday with the various Depot and town buildings in the background and the B&SRR cars in the foreground.

 

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This photo from the McLeod Collection reflects a switching operation at the Bridgton Depot in July 1935 with the 2-4-4T Engine #8 at the helm.

 

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This birds-eye photo of "The Notch" provides one view of the long grade that was 600 feet above sea level between Bridgton Junction in Hiram and the Bridgton Depot. Imagine yourself challenged, as were the B&SRR workers, during the fall and winter of 1882 trying to create this stretch of track or later, when the tracks in this section became near impassable because of compacted snow and ice and you had none of the modern equipment now available -- only picks and shovels! (Mead Collection)

 

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The outbuildings at the Bridgton Depot are silhouetted as the B&SRR train, with its tiny engine puffing mightily, pulls out for her next journey.

 

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Personifying the "little engine that could", B&SRR Engine #5 (the last of the steam engines built by Portland (ME) Works -- purchased in 1906 and serving the road for 20 years) is dwarfed at the Bridgton Junction yard in Hiram by its "big sister" of the Maine Central Railroad (Engine #510). Little remains of that yard today, but much of the roadbed and turntable pit can be found. (Ed Bond collection)

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Above, a more peaceful setting than this of the North Bridgton station in 1910 you'd be hard pressed to find! The stations's former location is now the site of a private home that bears a sign noting its place in history. In the 2nd photo, a lone passenger patiently - and one assumes contentedly - awaits the arrival of the next train at the same station (the latter from the Outland Collection).

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Engine #6 leads the way as it pulls away from the Harrison Station with carloads of passengers and freight. (Outland Collection - courtesy of L. Card)

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Another birds-eye view - this of the B&SRR trestle-work leading to the Harrison Station on the shores of Long Lake which became the road's "northern terminal". This stretch of trestle was the longest on the railroad and was, like other trestles, eventually filled in to eliminate maintenance and provide a more permanent roadbed. (Outland Collection- courtesy of L. Card)

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Shown here is the "Y" track, built for the B&SRR about 1/2 mile south of the Bridgton Depot yard, as it expanded operations to run to stations in North Bridgton and Harrison using tracks laid across Portland Street, past Pondicherry Mill and the Farmers Exchange, over a steel girder bridge atop Stevens Brook, and then heading from Lower Main Street down to he western shore of Long Lake. The steel bridge over Stevens Brook remained in place until it was recently sold to a collector.

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Passengers at the Sandy Creek Station wait with anticipation the call for "All Aboard!" The initial construction train had first arrived at "Pinhook" (as it was then known) on January 12, 1883; by the mid-1920s the Sandy Creek way station had been deactivated as the B&SRR faced mounting economic realities. Although the station is long gone, the area has changed little and the roadbed into the woods can still be found and followed most of the way to Hancock Pond.

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The very first train appeared at the Harrison Station on August 3, 1898. Depicted here is Engine #6 with its passenger cars as it prepares to depart.

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Jury-rigged though it may have been, this B&HR Railbus #3, pictured here at Bridgton Depot, served its purpose well - with the help of some "down-home Yankee ingenuity." The little bus was built with little money and little materials. Faced with an embattled cash problem, the Narrow Gauge crew concocted the self-propelled "contraption" in an early demonstration of the concept of recycling. Using a Chevy Sedan and substituting some light sheet-iron wheels under the front and more wheels under the rear and a "trailer" behind, with its own set of wheels (that had once been used on old boxcars), the rail workers were able to inspect and maintain tracks at a low cost. (One observer noted the only recognizable part was the "Chevrolet radiator!")

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Engine #8 is shown here during backfilling operations at Hancock Brook, one of the beautiful sites located along the route of the B&SRR. This stretch of backfilled roadbed with its beautiful stone arch is still visible today, over 60 years after the railroad's demise. (Outland Collection)

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(Photo postcard of B&HRR) This postcard view of the B&HR (Bridgton & Harrison Railway), successor to the B&SRR, reflects the determination of its owners to "make a go of it." Chartered in 1928, the B&HR officially took over operations of the road on June 12, 1930, and eventually became the last commercial service Two-Foot Narrow Gauge railroad in the country.

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Proud to the end, the once busy railyard at Bridgton Depot stands deserted in 1941 - despite the valiant efforts of its investors, workers, passengers, and shippers to save it. Some of its tracks, engines and cars were ultimately purchased by Ellis D. Atwood for a tourist attraction at his cranberry farm that became known as the Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts. The remainder of the road was sold for scrap, and the yard was quickly reclaimed by Mother Nature. Although physically vanished from it's original site, the Narrow Gauge railroad is still remembered and honored by Bridgton with "Depot Street" in the center of the village. No taxpayer money was spent on paying any of the railroad's expenses during its last year of operation -- it paid its own way or went without!

Credits: Photos from the Bridgton Historical Society's archives and from donor collections. We thank the late Judy Blake for her hours of editing work and railfan Duncan Mackiewicz for his assistance in identifying the photos. You may click on most of the photos for a larger view.

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