Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway Museum in Alna, Maine

Replica of the Sheepscot Station

More than a century ago, a tiny system of narrow gauge railroads crisscrossed the woods of Maine with just 24 inches between the rails—considerably smaller than the “standard” gauge of four feet, eight-and-a-half inches. The 24-inch gauge railroads got their start in England and were popular in mines and other industrial settings. But no one embraced them quite like Maine.

Among the five narrow gauge railroads was the Wiscasset & Quebec, established in the 1890s with grand plans to connect the coastal community of Wiscasset with Canada. Those plans quickly came crashing down and it was renamed the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (although even after that it never made it to Waterville or Farmington). Instead, the line ended about 43 miles inland in Kennebec County. The railroad served the agricultural communities of the Sheepscot Valley until better roads and the Great Depression did it in. The railroad closed in 1933 and it was ripped up soon after.

But one person was not content to let the memory of the narrow gauge through the Sheepscot Valley be forgotten. In the late 1980s, a local by the name of Harry Percival started rebuilding the track that once ran past his property in Alna, Maine. Soon others joined him and now three decades later a near-perfect replica of the original railroad has been created on about three miles of track, including stations, a locomotive shop, a water tower, and more. The museum owns two steam locomotives (including one of the original ones that was on the line when it shut down in 1933) and is building a third.

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