“They kind of went away quietly. They didn’t make a big fuss about it either,” said Gail Smart, a life-long resident of Gray. Gail was referring to the removal of train equipment from the Gray Shopping Plaza in recent days. For several years now, until recently, the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum had hoped to relocate its Museum to the Gray Shopping Plaza owned Ed Craffey.
However, that didn’t work out for several reasons: The first reason is a lack of about $10 million to relocate all of the equipment (formerly part of the Edaville Railroad, South Carver, MA.) to Gray and build a Depot. (One volunteer at the Railroad has said the Museum is guaranteed a bank loan of $1 million to put up a structure near the bridge in Portland that would be used largely for storage of train equipment.)
The second reason is that the property on which principles of the mini-railroad wanted to relocate is an animal/bird sanctuary; clearly, no place for the two-footers and the environmental issues it would cause. Besides, voters of Gray were not supportive when they voted down an effort to lend $50,000. to the Museum to help pay for costs including, permitting, etc.
Volunteers and others at the mini-railroad said recently that current plans call for the above Depot to be built near Ocean Gateway on the Portland waterfront. It is expected to open in 2021. It will be a ticket booth exclusively and not serve as a Museum because of its small size. This way there will always be a presence of the railroad in Portland, in addition to the popular Polar Express. The developers have assumed responsibility for moving the tracks. The Museum must vacate the building it is located in by the end of August 2019.
Hence, the so-called “Parlor Car” and a passenger train inside the Museum since its inception have already been transported to their new home in Alna. A volunteer there said the equipment still belongs to the Portland group and they can have it back whenever they want it returned. Maine DOT recently extended its lease to the two-footers for the use of its tracks for many years in exchange for keeping the tracks and adjoining area in good working condition.
Mrs. Smark recalled fondly that she used to take her two daughters when they were young down to the Edaville Railroad to ride the trains during the holiday season. “It was a wonderful tradition that we really enjoyed,” she said. When the two-footers were antique-trucked up from South Carver in 1992, it was done totally by volunteers and for free. Those resources are long-gone. The first three letters of Edaville, are the initials of the man who owned the trains – Ellis D. Atwood – on his cranberry plantation.
This blogger has reached out to the city spokeswoman, Wes Heinz, executive director , of the Museum and others multiple times for comments on this new venture, but has not received a response from any of them.
UPDATE: Please visit August 5, 2019 for updated information on this subject.