The Bridgton & Harrison Railway, formed in 1927, had been incorporated to save the struggling Bridgton & Saco River. On October 1st. 1927, the Maine Central surrendered the B&SR to the town of Bridgton. The B&H eventually purchased the railroad for $27,000 on June 15, 1930. In the acquisition, the railroad had only 4 serviceable locomotives left on the roster. #5, #6, #7, and #8, along with the remaining passenger and freight equipment. Locomotive #4 had been retired in 1930 and its boiler was used to heat the enginehouse in Bridgton while the rest of the engine was scrapped. The stock market crash of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression did not help the struggling B&H one bit. Even on the first day of operations, the new Bridgton & Harrison Railway had trouble. On the same day that the B&H purchased the railroad, locomotive #8 hit a sun kink on the Harrison extension and derailed, tipping onto its side. Thankfully nobody was hurt but it was a poor start for the B&H. This incident eventually led to the closure of the Harrison extension in October 1930, which was announced on September 13th.
With next to no passengers and hardly any freight traffic at this point, the railroad custom made a railbus out of a 1927 Chevrolet sedan with a custom trailer to handle light freight and passenger duties on the line so as to not waste too much money firing up a locomotive for a run. After the closure of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad in 1935, SR&RL Railbus #4 was purchased by B&H employee Edgar Mead and brought to Bridgton to be used as B&H #3. Mead would lease the railbus to the railroad for $1 a year. Locomotive #5, having been a reserve locomotive since 1930, was finally retired and cut up for scrap in 1935. One of the nicknames the railroad had earned during its years of operation was the "Busted & Still Running", a play on words for the initials of the Bridgton & Saco River, and it really was living up to the name.
The financial situation was gloomy for the slim gauge railroad, but the B&H was to get ridership from an interesting source. In the mid 1930s, magazines and other publications that catered to railroad enthusiasts started publishing articles about the "Maine Two-Footers" and those who had never heard of them flocked to Bridgton to charter train excursions and photograph the engines and rollingstock. To many of these visitors, the 24inch gauge Bridgton & Harrison was not only a novelty but also a curiosity. This was mostly due to the fact that many of the enthusiasts never had heard of such a narrow gauge being used as a common carrier railroad before instead of as an amusement park ride. One such individual who rode these excursions was Dwight A. Smith, who would later on be a railroad preservation pioneer in New England during the late 1960's/early 1970's. After the scrapping of Locomotive #6 in 1938, Engine #8 was used on the enthusiast excursions and carloads of freight while #7 was used as the backup motive-power.
Throughout the late 1930s and until 1941, many would visit the railroad to see and ride behind the unique little engines. The Bridgton & Harrison Railway welcomed these enthusiasts with open arms and let them have free reign to explore the property. While the Bridgton & Harrison received more popularity among railroad enthusiasts and other visitors, the railfan excursions weren't enough to save the railroad as the company was not making enough money to cover it's operating costs. Talks of abandonment were being heard by enthusiasts and some decided to take action.
In 1940, the Bridgton Railroad & Development Company was formed by a group of New Englanders who had heard of the impending abandonment of the railroad and were interested in saving the remaining locomotives and rollingstock. Another group for the same purpose that formed was called the "Save the Bridgton Narrow Gauge Railroad Club". These groups goal would be realized later on but in 1940 both groups clung to the idea of the railroad surviving this ordeal. Weirdly enough, while the B&H knew that abandonment was inevitable at this point, they still held onto the hope that their luck would change and would get out of the red. They even planned to extend the track from the terminus at Bridgton yard to the town center in hopes of operating the line as a convenient tourist attraction but this never went past the planning stage.
Soon enough in January of 1941, the ICC granted permission to the Bridgton & Harrison to abandon the line. The railroad didn't take immediate action though, and operated for one last summer season. On September 7th, 1941, the final revenue run was made with Locomotive #7. Robert C. Jones wrote about this last day in his book 'Two Feet to the Lakes', and the way he described it couldn't be described better. To quote Robert C Jones;
"On September 7th, engineer Everett Brown fired up No. 7 to move the final revenue train over the line. The eyes of the veteran employees were misted as they unloaded the final car, operated the last switch, and dropped the fire on the little Baldwin. Then, slowly, sadly, they turned away, leaving the (rail)road they had loved so well to a fate which it didn't deserve. No special ceremonies were observed; the little (rail)road just stopped operating".
It was a sad day for the town of Bridgton, and while the story of the railroad ended, the surviving equipment were to get a new lease on life.