Maine's WW&F narrow gauge railroad tops awards at heritage conference

RELATED TOPICS: STEAM/PRESERVATION
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SantaFe108
Orange Empire restored this Santa Fe FP45.
Orange Empire
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Pennsylvania Trolley Museum was recognized for restoring West Penn Railways curved side interurban car No. 832.
WWF9
Friend of Railway Preservation Award recognized three generations of stewardship by the Ramsdell and King families of West Thompson, Conn. of WW&F locomotive No. 9, a two-foot gauge 0-4-4T built in 1891
WW&F
MooseBrookbridge
The Significant Achievement Award-Structures recognized the saving, reconstruction, moving and placement of a former Boston & Maine Railroad boxed pony truss covered bridge on the main line of the WW&F.
WW&F
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C&TS received an award for its restoration of this wooden coach.
C&TS
SANTA FE, N.M. — Multiple awards were distributed during the annual fall conference of the Heritage Rail Alliance, the industry trade group for tourist railroads and museums, including Maine's Wiscasset Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum.

Jason M. Lamontagne, superintendent and chief mechanical officer of the WW&F, accepted the award on behalf of the museum's volunteers and friends.

The Significant Achievement Award-Structures recognized the saving, reconstruction, moving and placement of a former Boston & Maine Railroad boxed pony truss covered bridge on the main line of the WW&F. The bridge arrived at the museum's Sheepscot station parking lot in kit form on Oct. 4, 2017, and in only 11 months was reconstructed and then moved by highway about four miles and positioned over Trout Brook.

Most of this multi-faceted project was accomplished by museum volunteers. Under the direction of a professional covered bridge restorationist, the bridge was assembled in the museum's parking lot. A professional bridge engineer designed the necessary underpinnings and directed a commercial bridge and buildings mover who drove the piles and set the bents. An ingenious temporary bridge designed by WW&F members allowed the 48-foot bridge to be rolled into position without the use of a crane. The project was supported by a number of national, state and regional organizations, including the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, which initially donated the bridge to the museum, several national and regional rail preservation trusts and foundations, and donations from members and friends of the WW&F Railway Museum.

The acceptance of this bridge and its subsequent construction was the impetus to plan the Mountain Extension, which saw the repair and preparation of more than half a mile of original WW&F roadbed for track. In October, during the museum's annual Fall Work Weekend, more than 100 volunteers laid more than 1,400 feet of track. Next fall, another 2,000 feet of track will be built to cross the new bridge, and in 2020, a runaround siding and possibly a turntable will be installed, allowing regular service to begin on the most scenic part of the restored railway, including the bridge.

Lamontagne also accepted, on behalf of the family, the Friend of Railway Preservation Award recognizing the three generations of stewardship by the Ramsdell and King families of West Thompson, Conn. of WW&F locomotive No. 9, a two-foot gauge 0-4-4T built in 1891. Frank Ramsdell and his friend William Monypenny rescued No. 9 from the scrappers in 1937. Following Ramsdell's death in 1954, it fell to his daughter Alice to continue protecting No. 9, which she did ferociously, even waving a shotgun at a prominent New England railfan who demanded she sell him the engine.

Alice died in 1994, and her nephew Dale King became the caretaker of the long-held family dream to return No. 9 to steam. He knew that restoring the engine was well beyond his abilities, and so in 1995, he came to an agreement with the WW&F museum for a long-term lease that saw the locomotive moved back to Maine, where a 10-year overhaul began. This included a new boiler and rebuilding of the running gear and cab. On Dec. 5, 2015, No. 9 steamed over the two miles of the WW&F Railway, marking its first travel over the line since 1933. King was present for No. 9's formal dedication on Aug. 13, 2016, when he spoke of his family's lengthy devotion to No. 9.

Preserving No. 9 in 1937 may well have been among the first efforts by individuals to save an item of railway equipment from destruction. The efforts of the family over the next 78 years with the vision of allowing all people to experience this wonderful locomotive, now in service over the line it once served, is an inspiration to us all.

Other organizations and individuals were honored as well. Significant Achievement Awards went to the restoration of Morehead & North Fork 0-6-0 No. 12 to the Age of Steam Museum; to Orange Empire Railway Museum for the restoration of Santa Fe FP45 No. 108; Cumbres & Toltec for restoring D&RGW narrow gauge coach No. 212; for restoring 40 narrow gauge freight cars, MOW and cabooses over the past 10 years, the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec; to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum for restoring West Penn Railways curved side interurban car No. 832; and to Exporail for its acquisition of Canadian Pacific Railway corporate archives.

The William Purdie Awards encouraging youth involvement in railway preservation were awarded to Ed Kohler of the Tri-State Railway Historical Society; Tom Schneider and Jason Maxwell of the Illinois Railway Museum steam shop; and Bruce Mowbray, shop supervisor at Steamtown National Historic Site.

Honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards were Ted Anderson of the Illinois Railway Museum, Doyle McCormack of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, and Linn W. Moedinger, President of the Strasburg Rail Road.





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