The spark for the Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Museum came from a very unlikely place. While on vacation in Nevada during the October of 2019 Dalton Hulsey would ask Adam Cook about the original narrow gauge railroad that used to run in Bridgton. The conversation quickly took on a new life as both men realized that a resurrection of the old line was indeed possible. Upon their return to Maine, both started researching the possibilities of a revival.
By December 2019 the idea began to solidify into a plan, and Jordan Valladares was brought on board due to his experience with steam locomotives. Research continued well into the early months of 2020, when unfortunately due the COVID-19 pandemic, all three of the initial members of the project were laid off. The additional free time was used to begin networking and starting to gather a more comprehensive plan. It was by this point, in April of 2020, that three more members would be added to the effort. Those members were Connor Maher, Cullen Maher and Austin Kaeser.
After this board was assembled a plan emerged in May after studying old track maps. The Bridgton Transfer Station, built on the old right of way, would have to be bypassed. As a result any new yard would likely have to be built on the opposite side of Sandy Creek and a bridge would have to be constructed in order to connect it to the original railbed. It was also determined a 5 1/2 mile stretch from the new yard location to Perley's Mills was the most suitable stretch of line for restoration. It was during this time that the initial members reached out to Peter Lowell, of the Lakes Environmental Association (L.E.A) to inform him of the groups intentions and to ask his opinion on feasibility from an environmental perspective.
Starting in June 2020 the group started to look for suitable plots of land for the project. All the while the entire group started volunteering at WW&F on various small track details in order to gain experience with the 2-footers.
The first major purchase of the group would come on July 16th, 2020 when Adam Cook used personal funds to purchase track tools. In August an attorney was also contacted to see if the original railroads name could be acquired from the state. After months of research the attorney sent a response recommending the formation of a new company. On October 6th, 2020 the Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Maine and on October 14th, 2020 the Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Museum Inc. became an official entity.
On November 6th, 2020 the B&SR RRM track crew would attend their first work session as an independent company, aiding Maine Narrow Gauge with a large track project. For the rest of the 2020-2021 winter the board started building up funds for the purchase of land. In April of 2021 a breakthrough was made when the organization started reaching a deal with the Rolfe Corporation regarding a suitable plot of land.
In June 2021 the track season re-opened with a pair of work sessions at Maine Narrow Gauge. During the second work detail the B&SR RRM track crew was able to replace, spike, and gauge 38 ties in a mere 3 1/2 hours. By the end of the month the organization informed the Bridgton Historical Society of both it's existence and intentions.
The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Museum Inc. went public with it's plans and fundraising efforts on July 9th, 2021. This was then followed with receiving our 501c Non-Profit status on August 25th. The largest news of 2021 was on October 27th, 2021 when we acquired a 5.1 acre plot of land off of Home Run Road and is located near the original B&SR right-of-way at Sandy Creek, thus officially securing ourselves a plot to call home in the town of Bridgton.
The Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Museum was awarded its first ever grant on June 23rd, 2022 with a $10,000 grant received from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. This generous grant money was used to purchase much needed track tools, such as a rail saw, to perform track construction and maintenance for our own track work but also to help on track projects on other railroads we assist at.
On July 15th, 2022 saw the Bridgton & Saco River Railroad Museum participate for the first time at Sebago Days in Sebago, Maine and was the first time we had original equipment on display with us, in the form of B&H Railbus #3, courteously of our friends at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum.
Several days later on July 17th, we made the exciting purchase of our very first piece of motive power in the form of Cranrail Corp. #2, a vintage 3ft gauge Plymouth gas-mechanical locomotive. The engine had been on display in Madison, New Hampshire for years at the Silver Lake Railroad and the intention is to regauge and restore this locomotive to working order and assume the new identity of Bridgton & Saco River Railroad #9.
The track tools purchased via the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation arrived on August 6th, and have proved invaluable for our track work needs. We also participated at the 2022 Fryeburg Fair up over at Fryeburg, Maine for the very first time as several of our members spent the whole week from October 2nd to October 9th manning a table in the farm museum building, and during this event we raised money for not only the restoration of B&SR #9 but also for our Land Development campaign. We had a fun time interacting with everyone during this event and it is expected, along with Sebago Days, to be a regular event we will participate in for years to come.
Shown here is our draft site plan from 6/2/23 and is the first look at what the new Bridgton railyard will roughly look like.