Scrapping the WW&F. It's 1936 and the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway has been out of business for 3 long years. Salvage crews are finally in the process of lifting the rails that once stretched all the way from Albion down to Wiscasset on the seacoast. After the joint bars and spikes have been removed, the crew gathers along the loose rail. The Crew Boss shouts: "1-2-3 LIFT!" and the men simultaneously lift the heavy rail to waist level. Then, the boss simply shouts: "SOUTH!" and the crew walks the rail to the waiting flat car. It's a sad end to a very unique piece of Maine's transportation history.
OK, so some little details in this photo....along with my 2018 watermark, give away the fact that this image was created in 2018 and is a re-creation of a historic event. So, what's really going on here? Most museums and tourist railroads are not going to lift large sections of track purely for the purpose of creating "phraud-o-graphs" for photography enthusiasts. In fact, the WW&F did decide to lift a 300 ft. section of track in early 2018, but for the purposes of rebuilding the roadbed. The museum had been having issues for years with drainage and settling in this stretch and they decided that a permanent fix was needed. But, before they could bring in the bulldozers and backhoes, they needed to get the track up....and thus was born an opportunity for a historic re-creation. The museum elected to time the track removal to coincide with a photo event they were holding, one week before their annual Spring Work Weekend (SWW). The track would be lifted during the photo event, the roadbed rebuilt during the ensuing week, and then the track re-laid the following weekend, when the museum would have a large crew of folks who just enjoy putting down track. In order to re-create the scrapping of the original line, members donned period clothing, and a team of draft horses was brought in from a local stable. The horses were hitched to Flat Car 118, which appears in historic photos of the actual operation. The horse-drawn flat car was used in 1936, because by then, the railroad had no operable power left. The crew seen here is significantly larger than the crew that did the original job, and that's because the original line was built with 30 lb rail. The rail used by the present day museum weighs 50 lbs per yard. In addition, spike removal was pretty easy back in 1936, because the ROW had been poorly maintained, and many ties were rotted or non-existant. The 25 year-old track seen here has been much better maintained, so it was pretty difficult work taking it out.....and a job that most WW&F Volunteers are definitely not used to. Rest-assured, this stretch will be back in operation in just days.