In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Strong, a Mussul Unsquit village

A Legacy of Woods and Waters

The Railroad

Text By: Strong School 7th and 8th Graders, 2011-2012

Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad station, Strong, ca. 1910
Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad station, Strong, ca. 1910

Item Contributed by
Strong Historical Society

As gold brought rails west, timber brought rails north. There were large amounts of untouched woods in Western Maine, but the only way to effectively transport the harvested timber to southern markets was by rail. The Central Maine Railroad stopped at Farmington, so several communities north of Farmington decided to build a railroad to open the region for wood transport and for visitors to enjoy hunting, fishing and canoeing.

Railroad commissioners learned immediately that building a standard gauge railroad would be too costly, so they used a “narrow gauge” system for smaller engines, with less expensive rails, ties, and spikes.

The new railroad had an immediate and profound impact. Mills built along the railroad made Strong the logging community it is today. Sometimes the trains used two engines to haul a big load of wood. Coal was also hauled into Franklin County by train. The depot in Strong was located on the street that we call Norton Hill today.

In winter, trains were warm and were lit with kerosene lanterns. Snow removal from the tracks could be dangerous, requiring trains to back up, regain speed, and try to move forward again. Trains ran the risk of derailing.