By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,176)
Moving a railroad, albeit, a narrow gauge railroad, is no small matter. For years now, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum has been planning for its inevitable relocation up to the Town of Gray. While Donnell Carroll, Executive Director, said this afternoon he hopes the move will not come about until late in 2016, although that detail is yet to be finalized by the new owner of the valuable waterfront property at 58 Fore Street. The railroad’s move to Gray is necessitated by the sale last year of just over 9 acres of property by Phineas Sprague, Jr. to Jim Brady and his development team which the mini-railroad has called home since the mid1990s.
This Saturday, August 9th, the railroad Relocation Committee will meet to draw up a more detailed plan – a Campus Rail Yard – than currently exists. These ideas will be submitted to a few design firms by the end of this month for their renderings. Currently a conceptual design exists, but extensive refinement is needed. According to a flyer that was distributed recently at the Gray Shopping Plaza, where the railroad will be located, “the design will portray a traditional train station of the early 1900s and serve as the main entrance to the museum” which is projected to be 9,500 square feet in size. A covered platform of about 10 feet in width for passengers waiting, administrative, library, archive spaces, meeting rooms and a function space of 5,000 square feet (with kitchen) are part of the ambitious plans. The Railroad also plans to construct a 5,000 sq. ft. restoration building, a 5,000 sq. ft. roundhouse, a 12,500 sq. ft. car barn (capable of holding up to 15 rail cars under one roof), a 1,000 sq. ft. equipment garage and water storage and coal bin structures. A right of way needs to be cleared and more than 3 miles of new track laid. And don’t forget, of course, moving the equipment from Munjoy Hill up to Gray.
How to pay for all of this? Carroll, a former Maine State Senator, said that he met with our Congressional delegation about four months ago. As a result, the staffs from US Representative Chellie Pingree (D), Senators Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) are searching for data for grants to fund the project. Carroll hopes to start submitting grants this fall. He will also be looking for private donations – from people who have been generous in their donations in Maine. One name that comes to mind is that of S. Donald Sussman, wife of US Rep. Chellie Pingree. “I’ll be asking everyone to help out. And their individual friends as well,” said Carroll, grinning.
“I know $6 million is a lot of money,” Carroll agreed. “But we can do it!”
The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum was formerly the Edaville Railroad in South Carver, Massachusetts.