Two foot to the quarries. With brake club in hand, Brakeman Bryce Weeks protects the rear of his Monson Railroad freight as it backs onto a siding, deep in the woods of Maine.
Mr. Weeks is participating in a re-enactment of Maine's Monson Railroad at the WW&F Museum in January of 2020. Only 6-miles long, the Monson Railroad was perhaps the quirkiest of Maine's 24" gauge lines. It existed primarily to move slate from quarries in Monson to a junction with the standard gauge Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. The railroad was about as primitive as it gets with most of its rolling stock consisting of flat cars, with a couple of box cars thrown into the mix. The only passenger-carrying car they ever owned was a small combine. The railroad never rostered more than two locomotives at a time and typically never wasted time doing switching moves to create proper-looking trains. They moved rolling stock pretty much as they encountered it, with the motive power often at mid-train, just as you see it here. The Monson was a time-warp in the early 20th century, with no automatic brakes, link & pin couplers and using stub switches until the day they ceased operation. None of the locomotives had headlights in its later years....because they never ran at night. The Monson Railroad was chartered in 1882 and ceased operations in 1943, making it the last of the Maine 2-footers. Both of the line's final two locomotives were sent to a used equipment yard in New York, where they were rescued by Massachusetts businessman Ellis Atwood. Atwood brought them to his Edaville Railroad operation, where they ran for half a century as a tourist attraction. Both locomotives are now owned by the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum. Although Monson #4 is currently out of service for boiler replacement, Monson #3 is in regular service and has an FRA boiler certificate.