News of Events and People in Bethel, Maine and Surrounding Towns for 1896



Oxford Democrat – February 18, 1896

From report of railroad commissioners of Maine for 1895

Grand Trunk Railway

The road-bed and track of this railway within the limits of the state, including the Lewiston and Auburn and Norway branches are in excellent condition. The road-bed is well ditched and drained. The track is in good line and surface and well ballasted. Two miles of new sixty-five pound steel rails and forty-four thousand and ninety-three new ties have been laid, and twelve thousand and eighty cubic yards of ballast have been used during the year.

The pile bridges at Portland and Norway are in good condition. The other large bridges are all iron, are in good condition, and safe for the loads in use on this railway, although some are not such structures as would be needed for modern equipment and loads now in general use on other first class railroads.  The masonry at Cobb’s bridge has been rebuilt and is now in first class condition. The culverts are well constructed and in good order, two having been rebuilt during the year.

The rolling stock, though not new, is maintained in good running order. The stations, though mostly old, are kept in good repair.

Norway and Paris Street Railroad

This line connects the two thriving villages of South Paris and Norway, a distance of two and one-quarter miles. The road-bed and track are in first-class condition, in good line and surface. It is well build in all respects. The bridges over which the line runs were strengthened during the progress of construction so they are safe to carry all the loads that can be required of them.  The rolling stock is new and up to date in all respects.

Rumford Fall and Rangeley Lakes Railroad

This road extends from Rumford Falls to a point on the Rangeley Lakes known as Bemis Stream. It is practically an extension of the Portland and Rumford Falls Railway, and is now operated as far as the station known as Houghton’s, a distance of eighteen miles. This part of the line is very well built, with a good road-bed and track, well-ballasted, in good line, surface and rides remarkably well for a new line. The steel bridge over the Androscoggin River at Rumford Falls is a first-class, modern structure; the trestle of wood is well built and in the best condition.  The bridges on the line are of wood, of good design, well build, with a good margin of safety.  At present it is being operated by the Portland and Rumford Falls Railway, which furnished all the equipment. The track is laid to a point about six miles beyond Houghton’s, and it is the intention of the company to finish it to Bemis Stream to be ready for

operation quite early in the season of 1896.



Portland and Rumford Falls Railway

The railway connects with the Maine Central at Poland Springs Junction in the city of Auburn, and extends westerly and northerly to Rumford Falls, connecting with the Grand Trunk Railway at Mechanic Falls.

The road-bed and track are maintained in good condition. Two and a half miles of track at Buckfield and Sumner have been much improved, the alignment corrected, curvature and grades reduced and the whole put in first class condition. One mile of track has been re-laid with seventy pound steel rails, nearly eleven thousand new ties have been laid and about eight thousand cubic yards of ballast have been used during the year.

The wooden bridges at Allen, Buckfield and Sumner have been replaced with substantial steel girders upon excellent masonry, so there is now only one long wooden bridge left upon the line. This is a strong trestle bridge, perfectly safe for travel. Five of the smaller bridges have new and substantial floors, eleven of the open culverts have  been replaced with iron pipe and earth embankments.

The rolling stock is in good condition, two new locomotives, two first-class passenger cars, and one combination car having been purchased during the year. The stations are in good order and convenient for the patrons of the road.

An interesting thing to note is that all the major stations were replaced within 10 years; also that 65 lb rail was used, whereas 70 lb rail was used on the Rumford Falls.  The best part of the railroad commissioner reports are the accident reports...they give a lot of information, names of employees, etc.    Tim Sullivan,  “The Grand Trunk in New England”








Text Box: Bethel’s Grand Trunk depot station circa 1900. Note the new water tower which was rebuilt in 1896. Courtesy Bethel Historical Society
Text Box: Portland Grand Trunk station, India Street.  Built 1903.

The Bethel Journals

January 23, 2010


The Bethel Journals

Donald G Bennett

PO Box 763

Bethel, Maine 04217

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