Caution - Student Driver! Monson Railroad #4 leads a caboose hop along Portland, Maine's Eastern Promenade, but the gentleman at the throttle is not one of the railroad's qualified engineers. Not to worry however, because he's one of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company's "Guest Engineers", and there is a fully qualified engineer looking right over his shoulder, instructing him in the operation of the locomotive, and ready to intervene if he is needed. The MNGRR hosted a total of 4 Guest Engineers on this day, giving each approximately 90 minutes at the throttle and an opportunity to make at least a couple of trips up and down the entire length of the line on the Portland Waterfront.
The locomotive that you see here is an 18-ton, 1918 product of the Vulcan Iron Works. She was built for Maine's 2-foot gauge Monson Railroad, a short, 6-mile line that primarily hauled slate from a series of quarries to a junction with a standard gauge railroad. This was the last and largest locomotive to be purchased by that line. Although it was the shortest of Maine's 2-foot railroads, the Monson was the last survivor, finally closing down in 1943. This locomotive and a nearly identical sister ended up being sold to a used equipment dealer in New York, where they were discovered by Ellis Atwood, who purchased the two engines, as well as a lot of other former Maine 2-foot equipment and established the Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts. There, she ran for the next 50 years in tourist service. Only when the park closed down in the early 1990s, was she repatriated back to Maine, after being acquired by the MNGRR. Monson #4 has changed a bit since her days up in Central Maine. The folks at Edaville took a lot of liberties with her, adding a fake diamond stack, a cow-catcher pilot, brass boiler bands, steam heat connections, and a massive headlight to name a few. Some of the sillier additions have been removed by the MNGRR Museum Team, but the headlight, and steam heat have practical value for the museum's operations, and have been retained. Also retained are the brass boiler bands, and as you can see, it is a point of pride with the museum crew that they are always kept brightly polished.