View Full Version : The Old Somerset Railroad



WhereRWe?
03-24-2011, 06:49 PM
Over 100 years ago, there was a railroad that went from Oakland, Maine to the tourist resort at Kineo, on Moosehead lake. It was called the "Somerset Railroad". The train station in Solon (where I live) closed in 1935, and the last service was to Bingham in 1975. But the right-of-way still exists as a "rail trail" with at least 50 geocaches between Solon and Lake Moxie - about 30 miles north. (and there more north of there...)

This history of the Somerset Railroad is fascinating, and is documented in a Book from DownEast Books of Camden, "The Old Somerset Railroad (https://secure.downeast.com/books/maine/the-old-somerset-railroad.html)".

This is such a great ride, both for geocaching and just getting into the scenic Maine woods. I plan on adding to this thread with pictures and a "caches along a route" listing. The trail is accessible by bicycle, ATV and snowmobile. The 6-mile stretch between Solon and Bingham (6 miles, 23 caches, along the Kennebec River)) can also be walked easily. (If you want to drop your car at one end, I might be persuaded to drive you back to the starting point...)

:D:D

brdad
03-24-2011, 06:58 PM
Good idea, Bruce - why not make it a article?

WhereRWe?
03-24-2011, 07:05 PM
Good idea, Bruce - why not make it a article?

Cut and paste, Dave. LOL!

(Seriously, I might just do that. I really love the trip from Solon to Indian Pond. And retracing your steps and continuing on the northern side of the Kennebec is also great - and not a geocache for miles. I'll have to get busy as soon as the snow is gone. LOL!)

Haffy
03-24-2011, 07:30 PM
I worked on the whole section between Oakland,where I lived, to Bingham when I worked for the MCRR and then Guilford Industries where I was let go in 84 because of the consolidation of the railroad. I was the last railroad guy in Bingham before I was involved in the tear down of the tracks from N Anson to Bingham. Sure do miss those days. Spent many days traveling along that stretch of rail and in my opinion the most beautiful stretch of rails in the state. Glad that the right-of-way is still in use and hopefully will continue to be for many years to come.

brdad
03-24-2011, 07:31 PM
Give the word and I'll move the thread. If you need any other help, maps or a GSAK macro to spit out the list of caches, let me know.

dubord207
03-25-2011, 06:25 AM
The 6 mile stretch between Solon and Bingham gets you views of the Kennebec River you'll ever see. We did these caches on bikes with Bruce, Theresa, Jim Stacey and his mother in law. It was a great day of caching with friends! If you haven't done these, make a date to do them. Parking cars/trucks at both ends is a good idea if you're on foot or bike.




Over 100 years ago, there was a railroad that went from Oakland, Maine to the tourist resort at Kineo, on Moosehead lake. It was called the "Somerset Railroad". The train station in Solon (where I live) closed in 1935, and the last service was to Bingham in 1975. But the right-of-way still exists as a "rail trail" with at least 50 geocaches between Solon and Lake Moxie - about 30 miles north. (and there more north of there...)

This history of the Somerset Railroad is fascinating, and is documented in a Book from DownEast Books of Camden, "The Old Somerset Railroad (https://secure.downeast.com/books/maine/the-old-somerset-railroad.html)".

This is such a great ride, both for geocaching and just getting into the scenic Maine woods. I plan on adding to this thread with pictures and a "caches along a route" listing. The trail is accessible by bicycle, ATV and snowmobile. The 6-mile stretch between Solon and Bingham (6 miles, 23 caches, along the Kennebec River)) can also be walked easily. (If you want to drop your car at one end, I might be persuaded to drive you back to the starting point...)

:D:D

WhereRWe?
03-25-2011, 08:26 AM
Give the word and I'll move the thread. If you need any other help, maps or a GSAK macro to spit out the list of caches, let me know.

The GSAK class we went to this weekend has gotten me interested in macros. I especially liked what you can do with the arc/poly function to map caches in an area. Give me a couple of days to see what I can do before I call for help. LOL!

:D:D

JustKev
03-25-2011, 11:29 AM
The GSAK class we went to this weekend has gotten me interested in macros. I especially liked what you can do with the arc/poly function to map caches in an area. Give me a couple of days to see what I can do before I call for help. LOL!

:D:D

The arc/poly function is awesome. It's almost exclusively the way I load caches onto our GPS's now. The exception being newly published caches that weren't in my PQ's so I just send them to the GPS and we run.

brdad
03-25-2011, 11:38 AM
The GSAK class we went to this weekend has gotten me interested in macros. I especially liked what you can do with the arc/poly function to map caches in an area. Give me a couple of days to see what I can do before I call for help. LOL!

:D:D

Yes, ARC/Poly is a great tool. You can have multiple arcs or polygons as as well. If you want to spit out just a list of caches anywhere along one route, you don't even need a macro, you can do it with a filter and save that filter. Then the next time, you just apply the saved filter to your database, and you can use my copy_to_clip macro to copy the cache list formatted for pasting into the forum!

The macro I made to do the caches near bridges or waterfalls, as well as the macro to list which town any Maine cache is in, use a very similar technique repeated over and over. The Maine towns one has to process 915 polygons!

fins2right
03-26-2011, 10:30 PM
I worked on the whole section between Oakland,where I lived, to Bingham when I worked for the MCRR and then Guilford Industries where I was let go in 84 because of the consolidation of the railroad. I was the last railroad guy in Bingham before I was involved in the tear down of the tracks from N Anson to Bingham. Sure do miss those days. Spent many days traveling along that stretch of rail and in my opinion the most beautiful stretch of rails in the state. Glad that the right-of-way is still in use and hopefully will continue to be for many years to come.

Another thing we have in common Haffy, we've both been layed off by the Railroad. :D I was wondering if the Madison Branch was part of the old Somerset Railroad. From Oakland to Madison it's still in daily use. (Unless the mill closes, then it's kaput). Engineer friends of mine tell me it's the worst section of rail in New England with a 5 mph speed limit. It wasn't unusual to see a train go past me in Norridgewock and watch the engine sink down and scrape the rail (for those of you who have not worked the RR. That's really bad) Guildford had plans to start and rebuild the tracks, but that's on hold pending the sale of the Madison Mill.

It would be neat to see some of these old railways be converted over to trails like the old Newport to Hartland section. I was in Bowdoinham today caching and the section of rail from Brunswick to Augusta would be perfect. With no factories or mills, it's a complete pipe dream to think that trains will someday run on these tracks. In fact, the plan to rebuild the tracks from Westbrook to Fryeburg is, quite frankly, insane. (that's the old Mountain Division rail of the Maine Central Railroad) The cost just to replace the road crossings would be in the millions to bring them up to modern standards. Fortunately,the economy is in great shape and we have the money for these things.....

firefighterjake
03-27-2011, 01:11 AM
. . .
It would be neat to see some of these old railways be converted over to trails like the old Newport to Hartland section. I was in Bowdoinham today caching and the section of rail from Brunswick to Augusta would be perfect. With no factories or mills, it's a complete pipe dream to think that trains will someday run on these tracks. In fact, the plan to rebuild the tracks from Westbrook to Fryeburg is, quite frankly, insane. (that's the old Mountain Division rail of the Maine Central Railroad) The cost just to replace the road crossings would be in the millions to bring them up to modern standards. Fortunately,the economy is in great shape and we have the money for these things.....

My not so secret hope is that some day the powers that be will buy up the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad line and turn it into a multi use rail trail . . . it would certainly get more use than it is getting today.

Unfortunately, whenever you suggest such a thing invariably there will be the folks who come out of the wood work to decry such an idea as short sighted as they seem to think rail transportation is the wave of the future . . . which may be so in some metropolitan areas or places where a lot of freight needs to be moved cheaply . . . but Waldo County, Maine is one of those places where this will not happen. Using some of these old railroad lines as multi use trails would have many more benefits to many more people vs. just having a railroad preservation society run the railroad as a hobby in the summer.

WhereRWe?
03-27-2011, 07:48 AM
Another thing we have in common Haffy, we've both been layed off by the Railroad. :D I was wondering if the Madison Branch was part of the old Somerset Railroad. From Oakland to Madison it's still in daily use. (Unless the mill closes, then it's kaput). Engineer friends of mine tell me it's the worst section of rail in New England with a 5 mph speed limit. It wasn't unusual to see a train go past me in Norridgewock and watch the engine sink down and scrape the rail (for those of you who have not worked the RR. That's really bad) Guildford had plans to start and rebuild the tracks, but that's on hold pending the sale of the Madison Mill.


I believe they've upgraded the tracks between Madison and North Anson and they ran a few trains to the Cousineau mill. They had plans to fabricate huge wooden trusses and haul them by rail. Not sure what is goign on at that mill now.

And Guilford also planned to replace the tracks from North Anson to Embden (across the Kennebec from Solon) to haul ballast rock from their quarry there. They haven't done the tracks, but are trucking stone to the Mattingly concrete plant in North Anson where it's crushed before being hauled by truck to wherever.

fins2right
03-27-2011, 08:12 PM
My not so secret hope is that some day the powers that be will buy up the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad line and turn it into a multi use rail trail . . . it would certainly get more use than it is getting today.

Unfortunately, whenever you suggest such a thing invariably there will be the folks who come out of the wood work to decry such an idea as short sighted as they seem to think rail transportation is the wave of the future . . . which may be so in some metropolitan areas or places where a lot of freight needs to be moved cheaply . . . but Waldo County, Maine is one of those places where this will not happen. Using some of these old railroad lines as multi use trails would have many more benefits to many more people vs. just having a railroad preservation society run the railroad as a hobby in the summer.

Agreed! I just read that the last of the assets of the B&ML were just sold and the unity shop closed. Wouldn't that make a great recreational trail?

firefighterjake
03-28-2011, 07:50 AM
Agreed! I just read that the last of the assets of the B&ML were just sold and the unity shop closed. Wouldn't that make a great recreational trail?

Absolutely . . . Burnham to Belfast . . . however 1) there is a Preservation Society based out of Brooks that is detrmined to try to keep the railroad alive and I believe they have some money behind them and 2) there are always folks out there who even now are truly convinced that railroads will make a come back.