Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway Museum – Alna, Maine

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Over a century ago, a tiny narrow-gauge railroad system crisscrossed the Maine woods with only 24 inches between the rails—considerably smaller than the “standard” four-foot-eight-and-a-half-inch gauge. 24-inch gauge railways got their start in England and were popular in mining and other industrial settings. But no one has embraced them like Maine.

Among the five narrow gauge railways was the Wiscasset & Quebec, established in the 1890s with grand plans to link the coastal community of Wiscasset to Canada. These plans soon fell apart and it was renamed Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (although even after that it never made it to Waterville or Farmington). Instead, the line ended about 43 miles inland in Kennebec County. The railroad served farming communities in the Sheepscot Valley until better roads and the Great Depression did. The railway closed in 1933 and it was destroyed soon after.

But one person didn’t just let the memory of the narrow gauge through the Sheepscot Valley fade away. In the late 1980s, a local named Harry Percival began rebuilding the trail that once ran past his property in Alna, Maine. Soon others joined and now, three decades later, an almost perfect replica of the original railway has been created over some five kilometers of track, including stations, a locomotive workshop, a castle of water, etc. The museum owns two steam locomotives (including an early one that was in service when it closed in 1933) and is building a third.

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