BOOTHBAY, Maine — First Class Coach No. 2 was built by Jackson & Sharp Co. in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1903 for Maine’s Franklin & Megantic Railway, which at one time stretched from Strong to Bigelow passing through the heart of Maine’s Carrabasset Valley.
The line serviced rusticators traveling to the region for its renowned sport fishing and hunting as well as workers and materials for the growing timber industry which also bank rolled much of its early growth.
Like many of Maine’s two foot railroads the line never reached its planned terminus in Megantic, Quebec. Instead in 1908, the Franklin & Megantic Railway along with several others were consolidated into the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad (SR&RL). First Class Coach No. 2 was given a new number, No. 21, and put into service for the SR&RL until about 1935 when the railroad ceased operations.
Just after World War II, Ellis D. Atwood purchased several cars from the SR&RL and saved them from scrap. In 1941, he had begun purchasing locomotives and other narrow gauge train equipment from defunct railroads in Maine for use on his 1,800-acre cranberry plantation in South Carver, Massachusetts. Sand and supplies were hauled in to the bogs, and cranberries were transported to a “screen house” where they were dried and then sent to market. Atwood’s neighbors were enchanted with the novel railroad. At first, Atwood offered rides for free. When the demand for rides soared, he charged a nickel a ride. Eventually the line became less of a working railroad and more of a tourist attraction which today we know as Edaville.
In 2014, First Class Coach No. 2 was returned to Maine for restoration and preservation. This coach embodies the typical travel of the era with its plush walkover seats and mahogany interior. The coach will be put into service at the Boothbay Railway Village beginning with this year’s Day Out With Thomas, a fundraiser for the Museum.
In addition to the privilege to be among the first in Maine to experience this coach in more than a half century, a first class ticket also entitles you to preferred boarding and unboarding and you will receive a special gift from the Museum.
Thomas the Tank Engine rides depart every 35 minutes, rain or shine, on Aug. 8-10, and 15-17. Departure times begin at 9:15 a.m. through 3:40 p.m. each day of the event.
Tickets are $19 for regular seating and $24 for First Class for all guests two years and older (service charges and fee may apply.) Tickets are on sale now at the Museum, by calling toll-free866-468-7630 or online at www.railwayvillage.org.
The Boothbay Railway Village is located at 586 Wiscasset Road, Route 27 in Boothbay, Maine.