The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum & Co. is expected to make a major announcement about its future plans soon said a source close to the situation this morning.
Narrow gauge officials are eager to get this move to Gray underway said Dan Craffey, who expects to provide substantially over 40 acres of land on which the mini-railroad will be located. The brush and tree covered land is behind the Gray Plaza which Craffey, 50, purchased last winter. Craffey said that clearing the land of heavy brush and trees will not be difficult to do. Almost two years ago, the railroad began casting a huge net looking for a new site for the mini-railroad which arrived in Portland 18 years ago last month from its long-time home as the Edaville Railroad, South Carver, MA.
Craffey said he believed the railroad intends to keep some presence in Portland, but many of the cars will be trucked to Gray. That is up to the Portland operation to figure out how to do. Years ago, the Gray location site for the standard gauge railroad, but new tracks of the smaller variety – narrow gauge – will have to be laid to accommodate the smaller trains. Craffey said that will be done by contract and the Portland branch has volunteers who can lay the track up there. The Portland tracks were laid by volunteers entirely eighteen years ago – many of whom are no longer involved with the railroad. Some are retired/deceased and many of them were volunteers with the Trolley Museum who agreed to befriend a similar organization who needed jackhammers, expertise and manpower.
Craffey said that the current management team of the narrow gauge railroad in Portland will run the Gray operation. When the proponents of the railroad petitioned the city years ago, founding railroad superintendent, Emmons Lancaster, said the railroad woulld eventually employ a large number of people; that has not happened. Lancaster also promised the mini-railroad would become a large source of revenue for businesses in the area; that as well never happened. Regretably, the mini-railroad has never hired a bona fide and qualified museum director. Some believe that if it had done so, many of the legenday internal conflicts could have been avoided.
Craffey, is originally from Massachusetts, and knows of the former Edaville Railroad, South Carver, MA., where these cars were once a popular holiday tourist attraction in the 50’s and 60’s. Originally these narrow trains were built for use in mid and northern Maine to transport passengers, slate and a number of other items to very isolated areas of the state. The narrow width of the trains was essential access to rocky and mountainous areas of the state.
Craffey said these cars in Gray will be beautiful and the community is looking forward to having them here.
For more background information, please see Post # 876, dated September 9, 2011, herein.