King of the Maine 2-Footers. In the year 2020, there are just 5 surviving steam locomotives from Maine's 2-foot common carrier railroads. Of the 5, the engine you see here is the rightful king. You are looking at Bridgton & Saco River Railroad #8, a Baldwin 2-4-4T Forney Locomotive, built in 1924. At 38 tons, she's the heaviest locomotive ever built for a Maine 2-foot railroad. The line she ran on stretched from Bridgton Junction to Harrison, Maine, a distance of 33 miles. The line was built in 1883, and served the rural townships in Western Maine until 1941. In its last decade, the line was known as the Bridgton & Harrison and was more of a tourist attraction than a common carrier.
Were it not for the efforts of a Massachusetts businessman, Ellis Atwood, all of the equipment from the B&SR might have been scrapped or burned, but Mr. Atwood had other plans. He recovered this engine and a similar but smaller one, along with most of the rolling stock and moved it to his cranberry plantation in South Carver, Mass, where it operated for another 50 years as a tourist attraction called Edaville Railroad. When that park closed in the early 1990s, all of the equipment was acquired by the newly formed Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum, and moved to Portland, Maine, where it has resided ever since. For about 10 years, B&SR #8 operated sporadically on the Portland waterfront, mostly at special events. She was too large for the museum's normal trains. Alas, when the FRA took over regulation of that line in the early 2000s, this engine was retired because her boiler would no longer pass inspections. She's been stored in a shed in Portland for literally the past 15 years, seldom seeing the light of day.
Recently, the City of Portland has chosen to re-purpose some of the land and buildings that the MNGRR has been using, which threatened to leave #8 homeless. Fortunately, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company (MNGRR) and the Wiscasset Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum (WW&F) have a good working relationship, and they help each other wherever possible. For the near term, the WW&F has agreed to house many of the pieces of the MNGRR collection, including #8 here, and she was recently trucked from Portland to Alna, where you see her now. She has been cosmetically restored and has been placed on static display, where WW&F patrons can now enjoy her and photograph her. Will she ever run again? That's difficult to say. She basically needs a new boiler and with 2 other operating locomotives, the MNGRR does not currently need a locomotive of this size. But certainly some day, should the funds become available, she is otherwise in good condition and would be a good candidate for restoration.
Photographer's Note: As a kid, I had a ride behind this engine at Edaville in the 1960s. Later, in the early 2000s, I was fortunate to ride in her cab in Portland, with one of the MNGRR Engineers. Not only does this locomotive stand taller than the other Maine 2-foot survivors, she is one WIDE locomotive, looking more like a 36" gauge engine, than a 2-footer.