The Narrow Gauge Railroad Collection
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.
Bridgton & Saco River Narrow Gauge Railroad
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 collection (96.14, described below) of business papers augments other documentary holdings, photographs, scrapbooks, 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 1993This 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.