Nearly all, at least partially, were operated in conjunction with the Boston & Maine, with which the MEC long-held a so-called "Cooperative Agreement." One such train was the seasonal Bar Harbor Express, a joint service running from Washington, D.C. to Ellsworth, Maine in conjunction with the Pennsylvania, New Haven, Boston & Maine, and Maine Central. The MEC's northern segment hosting this train is now the trackage utilized by the Downeast Scenic Railroad between Brewer (Bangor) and Washington Junction (Ellsworth). The history of the property can be traced back to 1881 when it was incorporated by Colonel John N. Greene's Maine Shore Line Railroad.
Downeast Scenic Railroad Locomotive Roster
Downeast Scenic 44-Ton Switcher #53 (Operational. Originally built by the Davenport Locomotive Works. No other information available)
Downeast Scenic 70-Ton Switcher #54 (Operational. Originally built by General Electric in December of 1948 as Berlin Mills #15.)
Downeast Scenic S4 #1055 (Operational. Originally built by the American Locomotive in 1950 as Portland Terminal #1055.)
Maine Central 4-6-2 #470 (Under restoration by the New England Steam Company. Originally built by the American Locomotive Company in 1924.)
This system, largely financed through the MEC, was chartered to connect Ellsworth with Bangor. In addition, there was another subsidiary known as the Washington County Railroad, running from Ellsworth to Calais, following the state's southern coast. When completed the entire line stretched 133.4 miles including a 16.4 spur to Eastport, significant as the easternmost railhead in the United States. Finally, a segment extended from Washington Junction to a location known as Mount Desert Ferry (McNeil Point), the section now-abandoned which carried the Bar Harbor Express (originally known as the Mount Desert Limited).
From this point folks would board a ferry and cross Frenchman’s Bay for the 6-mile ride to the Maine Central Wharf in Bar Harbor, a longtime popular resort destination. Direct rail service to the waterfront ended in the fall of 1931 due to the ongoing Great Depression and improved highways. Trains were then truncated to Ellsworth, running this schedule until 1957 when further cutbacks saw service north end at Bangor. After years of trying the MEC was finally granted permission to end all remaining services over its system after September 6, 1960. This included not only the Bar Harbor but also all other trains running its network, resulting in many others disappearing from the timetable for several railroads with connections no longer available into Maine.
Under MEC control its line east of Bangor was known as the Calais Branch and continued offered freight service until 1985 when most of the route was abandoned under new ownership then headed by the Guilford Rail System. Alas, Guilford, which also controlled the Boston & Maine and Delaware & Hudson, was not kind to many of its subsididaries and abandoned hundreds of miles of trackage aside from the Calais Branch. A forward-thinking state government acquired the property that same to preserve the corridor. After nearly two decades of work with predominantly volunteers the Downeast Scenic Railroad began service on July 24, 2010.
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Downeast Scenic Railroad