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Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Starting in the latter part of the 19th century, Maine had a unique system of railroads that ran on rail only two feet apart. From the 1870s until the 1940s, some 200 miles of narrow gauge lines served many of Maine's smaller communities. Eventually there were five of these railways:

Transporting both passengers and freight, they were the smallest narrow gauge common carrier railroads in the United States. They connected the less populated rural areas of Maine with the larger cities and thus were an important part of the economic development of the interior of Maine.

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Maine museum

Chartered in 1993, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum operates over a mile of 2-foot gauge trackage along a former Canadian National Railroad right-of-way in Portland, Maine. The museum rosters four narrow gauge steamers, as well as a GE industrial switcher and a variety of 2-foot gauge rolling stock.

postcard / collection


Mention "narrow-gauge steam railroading" to this Louisiana-boy and immediately I'm thinking of sugar plantations and backwoods lumber mills. But a Southerner like me can sure grow fond of Maine narrow-gauge operations, and thank the heavens there is still plenty of it to sample--in operation, no less! I fell in love with the Portland museum the moment I ventured out on their line and noticed the former standard-gauge trackage all reworked for new rails, with the full-length ties still in place! Now that's using what you have, and using it well. Indeed, there's almost room for double-track running! Steam was not in operation during the season of our visit, but the unusually thin switcher made nice work of the trek along the Portland shoreline. The caboose-combine and swayback coach were real treats, and the volunteer crew took time to demonstrate the finer points of uncoupling and coupling a gurgling GE industrial goat. A good day was had by all in the warm summer sun.

Links / Sources

This page was updated on 2016-01-05