GREENVILLE JUNCTION, Maine — To Bob Roberts, it wasn’t so long ago that the Greenville Junction Depot pulsed with the economic life of all of Maine.
The depot handled 14 trains a day. Each train hauled passengers, furniture, slate, logs, shoes and most every other sort of good made, needed or shipped in Maine, said the 80-year-old Monson man, a rail yard worker with Canadian-Pacific Railway for almost 40 years.
“Prior to my day, they handled up to 40 trains a day here,” Roberts said Saturday. “One day during World War II, they dispatched 40 trains out of Brownville, but you have to remember that in those days, the trains only pulled 10 to 12 cars. That’s all they had power for.”
The rail line behind the depot is still one of the prime connections through Maine, and it’s even undergoing something of a renaissance thanks to some large shipments of crude oil out of the Midwest headed to Canada, but the depot itself has been passed by. Long shuttered and unused, it is a decaying hulk, a monument to Greenville’s and Maine’s industrial past that a group of area residents want to save.
That’s why the Greenville Junction Depot Friends held the second annual Depot Celebration and Railroad Workers Reunion at the depot on Saturday. Several hundred people attended.
Besides giving railroad workers from decades past a chance to get together, the daylong event allowed residents and businesses to contribute to efforts to raise $10,000 to repair some of the underpinnings to the depot, said Jane Hall, chairwoman of the group.
The group offered depot tours and artisans and local businesses had a few dozen booths where they sold goods and food and collected donations for the restoration work.
The Friends group hopes to eventually relocate the depot across the street from its present location and fully restore it. That job would cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Cheri Goodspeed, the organization’s secretary.
“I see a figure of about $500,000,” said Mike Littlefield, a 57-year-old LaGrange resident and retired railroad worker who wants to see the depot restored.
The depot is a valuable piece of American history, said Jim Crandall, an 83-year-old Greenville man and retired railroad worker.
“If they let it go,” Crandall said, “pretty soon nobody will know what it used to be like here.”
Anyone interested in learning more about or contributing to efforts to save the depot can visit the Friends group’s website at greenvilledepot.org.
Follow BDN writer Nick Sambides Jr. on Twitter at @NickSam2BDN.