This is a first person account of how two young girls traveled to their summer vacation place at the Locke Mountain Farm in North Bethel.
After the Fourth of July, it was time to leave for Bethel and Miss Locke’s.
Two men from the farm came to take the two carefully strapped trunks down to the (Arlington) station to check them through to Bethel on our train tickets.
At first we used to drive down to the station in the surrey drawn by Belle. One of the men would drive us down because Father went into Boston with us to put us on the train to Bethel. In later years we went downtown (along Mystic Street—Winchester to Arlington) in an open trolley car. At the station in Arlington center we waited impatiently for the train which finally arrived to take us into Boston.
Almost before we knew it, we had traveled the six miles, and the growing darkness told us we were going into the North Station. There Father left us in the waiting room while he went to see if the parlor car was ready that was to take us to Bethel.
At last Father came back and said we could get on the train. After he had seen us settled in the pretty green plush chairs that twirled round and round, he left us. Ellie and I sat together in one chair but after I was twelve I had to have a full ticket.
Boston to Portland
Soon after Father had gone, the whistle blew, the conductor shouted, “All abooord!”, the train began to move and our journey had really begun.
As far as Portland our parlor car was likely to be pretty full. Sometimes the porter would put up a table so we could play borrow your bundle or old maid or hearts. But at Portland things began to change. Nearly all the other passengers left us there and we often had the car to ourselves. Then Ellie and I could have a full chair.
While the train waited at Union Station, we ate the lunch Mother had brought. Sometimes she would get off the train to buy fresh fruit to go with it. After lunch the rest of the train would go off and left our parlor car by itself. Soon we saw an engine backing up to us and braced ourselves for the bump we knew would come as our car was hitched to the engine and drawn off to the Grand Trunk Station.
Portland to Bethel
At the Grand Trunk Station our car with more jolting and bumping was joined to another train that would take us to Bethel. A slow and wandering train this was that seemed to stop at every cross-road. The car became hot and stifling, and the porter obligingly opened some of the windows and put in screens, which let in some air but did not keep out the soot which soon blackened our hands and faces.
After we had been on the way a man came through our car selling: “Necco Wafers . . Peanuts . . .Popcorn . . . Chewing Gum . . . State o’ Maine Taffy.” Before we had realized it, we had reached South Paris, with the County Court House on the hill above the railroad track. Here we always waited a long time, but now there were only three more stations before Bethel— West Paris, Bryant’s Pond and Locke’s Mills.
(Locke’s Mills was named for our (innkeeper) Miss Locke’s grandfather, who early in the 1800’s had bought some land along the Alder River and built mills to take care of timber that had been harmed by widespread woods fires.)
As the train left Locke’s Mills, we washed off as much soot as we could in the little washroom at the end of the car.
Then we put on our hats and coats. The air coming in the windows was cooler now. After the porter had brushed off the soot from our clothes, we giggled at a joke (our cousin) Pauline had picked up somewhere:
Porter: “Brush you off, sir?”
Passenger: “Thank you, no, I’ll step off.”
At last the conductor opened the door and called out “Bethel ——— Bethel,” and the train came to a stop.
The porter helped us down the steps and we spied the familiar three-seated covered mountain wagon with the back seat taken out to make room for our trunks. Our trunks which had come along on the same train with us were loaded onto the back of the mountain wagon. We were off for the four mile drive to Miss Locke’s.
Extracted from I Was A Summer Boarder, Ruth Crosby, 1966, The Christopher Publishing House, Boston, MA. Dr. Crosby at one time intended to submit an article about Mary Ellen Locke to the Reader’s Digest for publication as a Most Unforgettable Character.
I Was A Summer Boarder grew out of this original project which covered many summers going over details of life at the Locke Farm with her mother and sisters at the Crosby family’s Red House in Newry, Maine.
The Minuteman Bikeway through Bedford, Lexington, Arlington and Cambridge has replaced the rail line which carried the Maine bound party in this story from Arlington center station to North Station.
John Davis's comments on the above. January 2008
The c1910 ride from Boston to Bethel certainly indicates that a GTR car went through to Boston and back, and not only trundled across Portland by a yard engine, but the swivel seats that could be spun round and round attest to it being a Parlor car and not a coach,
which falls in line with that note I jotted from a still unfound source that a Parlor was being sent through in 1892.
Now if a photo would only surface showing one of these moves so I could determine if it was via Commercial Street or Portland Jct, and which road's engine was used. I seem to feel that if it was via Commercial that a GTR engine moved from India to Union, and that when it came in from Boston a Portland Terminal engine took it from Union over to India.
The Parlor cars, although lettered Grand Trunk and numbered in their 2600 series in 1901, were owned by the Pullman Company, They were staffed by a Pullman porter and a Pullman Conductor, though the latter had no authority on operation of the train. This was an agreement between the GTR and Pullman from the 1880s which was continued when the Canadian National took over the GTR until 1948, when CN bought its parlor and sleeping cars and staffed them with their own personnel, minus the extra Conductor.
BY RAIL FROM ARLINGTON, MASS
TO BETHEL, MAINE—CIRCA 1910
Bethel Station as it looked about the time of this story. Two key features in the photo are: the water tank/standpipe and the large building—right background— is the Bethel Chair Factory.
Crosby home at 282 Mystic Street, Arlington, Mass.
Ruth and Ellie Crosby at about the time of this story.
Locke Farm—Locke Mountain House—Sunday River Road, North Bethel.
Grand Trunk Railroad Station, India Street, Portland.
THE BETHEL JOURNALS
PO BOX 763
BETHEL, MAINE 04217