Saturday, January 14, 2017

Biography of Amos Fitz Gerald - "Electric Railway King" of the Pine Tree State

Of the 520 miles of electric railways in Maine,
Amos F. Gerald was responsible for building of 125 miles,
which after consolidation/expansion, became more than
250 miles.
Cover of New England Electric Railway Historical
Society's Library 2015 publication. PWM book

Amos Fitz Gerald – “Electric Railway King” of the Pine Tree State

By Charles D. Heseltine

Amos Fitz Gerald was born in Benton, Maine, September 12, 1842. His father was a farmer. His mother was a staunch Methodist and known for her labors in years, a loyal and faithful member. The family name originally had been Fitzgerald but had been shortened to Gerald sometime after his great-grandfather had arrived from Ireland. Amos was given the middle name of Fitz, however, although he normally elected to make use of the initial. It is recorded that the great-grandfather had not come to this country voluntarily, but had been impressed, or shanghaied, as so many were in those days. Upon arriving in the New World he had seized an opportunity to jump ship and remained on this side of the Atlantic.
            Amos’ boyhood was spent upon his father’s farm in Benton where he undoubtedly assisted in the various chores required around the place. In 1860 he left the family homestead at the age of eighteen and found work as a log driver on the Merrimac River in New Hampshire. He continued in that occupation along the river, being named a crew foreman in 1862. In 1863 he was in a position to hire his own crews and contract for work, indicating early in life his ability to organize. With a selected crew of his loggers. he engaged to construct a dam at Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts and, reportedly, this dam is still in service as part of a General Electric Company installation.
            The Civil War was ensuing during most of the period when Amos was in the woods or on the river and there has been no mention found of his becoming involved in the hostilities.
            With the dam at Turner’s Falls completed, Gerald entered the blacksmithing trade, first to learn the various techniques and then engaging in the business for himself during 1865-1866. He was quite proud of having earned the sum of one-thousand dollars during the year. Certainly, for those times, it was not an insignificant sum. 
            Picking up and mastering the blacksmithing trade underscores his native mechanical ability which he then put to use by inventing a more practical curtain fixture. Obtaining a patent on this device. Gerald entered the manufacturing business with a partner, E. F. Tukey, in the Town of Fairfield during 1867. The same year, on October 23, he married Caroline W. Rowell. Their first home was on Western Avenue in Fairfield, the town Gerald was to call “home” throughout his lifetime. In 1869 he sold his share of the curtain fixture business to his partner to become a buyer of cattle and sheep for the Brighton (Massachusetts) Market.
            Although his farming background may have fitted him as a buyer of cattle, he appears to have been more motivated toward business and things mechanical, so in 1871 he formed a partnership with D. W. Allen and purchased the hardware firm of F. M. Totman & Company of Fairfield. This apparently satisfied him for a time, but in 1875 he sold the business back to Everett Totman.
            1876 was the Centennial Year and once again Amos F. Gerald was on the move, not for the purpose of driving logs, but to Philadelphia to take charge of a new mile racing plant which was opening under the name of Belmont Park. Throughout his life Gerald was a lover of horses and a patron of trotting races. He officiated at state fairs and at one time was Superintendent of the Racing Department for the Maine Fair Association. He was a member of the Fairfield Trotting Association and developed the Fairfield Trotting Track on Drummond Avenue about where the present day athletic field is located. Over the years he was to own and both race and show a number of blooded trotters including the famous “Dr. Franklin” and “Saint Lawrence”. He was a close friend of one of the real old-time trotting horse enthusiasts, Isaiah Pompilly of Auburn. In addition to his interest in fairs and horses, Gerald also became a long-time member of the Fairfield Board of Trade, a member of Siloam Lodge, AF & AM and a member of Merrymeeting Chapter, No. 64, OES.
            Returning from Philadelphia, Amos Gerald purchased the salt business of one William Harvey in Augusta. In a little more than a year, Gerald had reorganized this wholesale outlet, put it on a prosperous basis and sold it back to its original owner.
            During the next four years, Amos turned to various mechanical problems and secured patents on several inventions, the most important of which appears to have been an improved head for sewing machines for which he received the sum of $16,000. It is likely that at this stage he moved into his new and much larger home at Newhall and Lawrence Streets in Fairfield. At any rate, it would seem that his thoughts from time to time returned to the sights and scenes of New York City which he had visited several times in disposing of his patent rights. During these trips he had become fascinated with the many busy horse railway lines serving the metropolis. This was to have a marked effect upon him during his immediate years.
            During 1886, Amos, with a group of associates which included: Isaac C. Libby, Virgil R. Connor, A. Nye, and E. J. Lawrence, installed a lighting plant in the town of Fairfield. Opening in late March, this was the first electric lighting plant in the State of Maine, Virgil Connor’s residence in Fairfield being the first home in the state to be so lighted. In addition to the Fairfield Electric Light Company, the same associates organized and opened the Waterville Light Company at about the same time.
            Gerald’s first venture into the street railway field followed shortly after the opening of the two electric plants. Gerald, Stephen A. Nye, Arthur H. Totman, all of Fairfield, Edmund F. Webb, Stephen I. Abbott and Perham S. Heald of Waterville, incorporated the Waterville & Fairfield Horse Railroad Company on February 4, 1887, the road opening from Waterville to Fairfield Square June 23, 1888, a distance of about three miles. Gerald was one of the directors of the company. The same year Gerald, with Galen E. Moses, F. H. Twitchell, and A. B. Shaw, all of Bath, chartered the Bath Street Railway, but five years were to pass before this road would open.
            With George E. Macomber and J. Manchester Haynes, both of Augusta, Amos Gerald secured a charter for the Augusta, Hallowell & Gardiner Street Railway and incorporated March 6, 1889. The following year, on Augusta 4, 1890, the road was in operation by electric power from Augusta through Hallowell and Farmingdale to Gardiner, a distance of approximately seven miles. (This was the second electric street railway to open in the Pine Tree State, the Bangor Street Railway having opened the previous year).

Maine's second electric street railway opened from Augusta to Hallowell
on July 22, 1890. On August 4 of the same year, operations commenced
through to the Maine Central Railroad depot in Gardiner. The Augusta,
Hallowell & Gardiner Street Railway was one of the earliest street railway
systems that Gerald was involved with.
Image from O. R. Cummings Collection in Seashore
Trolley Museum Library's 2015 book, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946.

            For some reason not yet undetermined by the writer, Amos Gerald left Fairfield for Eau Claire, Wisconsin, acquiring the major interest in a faltering street railway operation in that city, buying out two small electric lighting companies and various water power rights, merging the group into the Eau Claire Street Railway, Light & Power Company with a valuation of $300,000.
            Back in Fairfield, Gerald learned that the lighting companies were in deep financial trouble. The infant electrical business had a good product, but the public was somewhat apathetic, quite satisfied with the proven dependability of gas lighting or the more economical oil lamp. There were few electric motors and, of course, even fewer electric appliances. One ready-made user of electrical current was the electric street railway and Gerald’s experience at Eau Claire and with the successful electric line at Augusta appeared to be the answer to the problem.
            The Waterville & Fairfield Railway & Light Company was chartered on February 12, 1891. Amos Gerald was the moving factor in this enterprise along with Herbert Heath of Augusta, Charles G. Carlton, A. H. Duren of Fairfield and Nathaniel Meader and O. A. Tuell. Money was scarce and much of Gerald’s funds were tied up in other ventures, but he secured a bank loan of $30,000 on his personal signature and, with the aid of his associates, succeeded in merging the Fairfield and the Waterville electric lighting plants with the Waterville & Fairfield Horse Railway Company, the latter being converted to electric power early in 1892. However, prosperity did not come at once following the unification of these companies, and after defaulting on its bond interest in 1897, Amos Gerald, who had been president and chairman of the board of directors left the company when it was reorganized in early 1898.
            Gerald opened the 4.25 mile Bath Street Railway on August 19, 1893. He was to maintain an interest in this company until its merger with the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath system in 1898.

Amos Fitz Gerald opened Bath Street Railway on August 19, 1898.
Postcard from O. R. Cummings Collection in Seashore
Trolley Museum Library's 2015 book, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946.

            On August 7, 1894, Amos Gerald, with Isaac G. Libby and others, organized the Skowhegan & Norridgewock Railway & Power Company. Gerald was named general manager and the road opened October 13, 1894, over the 5.75-mile route between the two towns. It proved to be one of Gerald’s most unsuccessful projects.
            The necessity for an electric street railway line between Skowhegan and Norridgewock as a passenger carrier was something less than critical. Supposedly, however, Gerald had obtained a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the Somerset Railway, a steam rail line which extended from connection with the Maine Central Railroad at Oakland, through Norridgewock to Bingham. This steam road handled many carloads of lumber and wood products, many of them destined for the mills at Skowhegan. It was the intent of Gerald to haul this freight over the few miles separating Norridgewock and Skowhegan, thus eliminating the much longer haul via Oakland and back to Skowhegan over the Maine Central, by way of Waterville. While the Somerset Railway appears to have been willing to interchange freight with the electric road, it was even then under the domination of the Maine Central and, very likely, this forced a cancellation of the agreement. A proposed linking of this electric road with the Maine Central at Skowhegan was likewise never carried out.
            The history of the Skowhegan & Norridgewock road is dismal, with deficits every operating year but one. Its finest year being 1897 when it proudly reported a net profit of $5.23! By 1903 the accrued deficit amounted to $66,593.48 and operations were suspended temporarily. Efforts to restore service proved futile and in 1906 the rails were torn up and the rolling stock removed to Fairfield, both to be used later on the Fairfield & Shawmut Railway, another Gerald project.
            During 1894 Amos Gerald invested in another street railway project (Calais Street Railway) which was to turn out more successfully. 

Amos Fitz Gerald opened Calais Street Railway on July 4, 1894.
Image from O. R. Cummings Collection in Seashore
Trolley Museum Library's 2015 book, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946.

             Efforts were underway to construct an electric street railway from Bangor through Veazie to Orono and Old Town, but funds were lacking. Gerald assumed the role of president and general manager and, with Isaac C. Libby and A.J. Durgin, provided the necessary spur which was opened for service July 17, 1895. In 1898 Gerald disposed of his holdings to the Public Works Company, a corporation which was at work merging the various street railways and lighting companies in the Bangor area. He was, at the time, involved in the organizations and building of a street railway line in York County.
            Gerald was involved in another street railway project in the Bangor area which, like the Skowhegan-Norridgewock, was to prove less than satisfactory. In company with Flavius O. Beal of Bangor, Isaac C. Libby, Harrison F. Gould of Kenduskeag, and C. E. Edmonds of Corinth, the Penobscot Central Railway was incorporated December 31, 1896. The company proposed to construct a twenty-eight-mile street railway from Bangor through Glenburn, Kenduskeag, and East Corinth to the Town of Charleton. Hopefully, this would develop a prosperous farming area. Instead of using the conventional overhead trolley system and maintaining expensive powerhouse facilities and transmission lines, the company decided to use a newly developed gasoline-electric car. This unit may be considered as the grand-daddy of the present day diesel-electric locomotive. The car contained a gasoline motor which turned a dynamo which in turn fed a bank of 110 storage batteries providing electric current for the two traction motors beneath the car. The development of this type of motive power was yet in the primitive stage and the ten percent grades along the line made its use impractical and almost fatal during a northern Maine winter!
            The Penobscot Central Railway opened from the steamboat wharf in Bangor to East Corinth village December 17, 1898, but traffic failed to materialize as had been anticipated and passenger riding was all but non-existent. (The 1900 census reveals that the total population of the towns served along this twenty-eight-mile street railway was less than thirty-five hundred people) The gasoline-electric car proved a failure and the line was shut down completely April 7, 1900, in order to convert the road for conventional overhead trolley operation. A steam generating plant was constructed at Kenduskeag Village and further work was required, in all requiring an additional expenditure of $105,000 to render the road serviceable.  Trolley service was extended to Charleton August 5, 1902. Round trip runs from Bangor to Charleton were reduced to but two daily by 1903 at the time the company was reporting an accrued deficit of $147,562. In mid-1904 the road was sold under foreclosure proceedings to the bondholders’ committee and reorganized but failed to greatly improve its condition. Early in 1905, the road was reorganized again as the Bangor & Northern Railway and the following year was merged with the Bangor Railway & Electric Company. By this time, of course, Amos Gerald had long since severed his connection with the company.
            While the gasoline-electric streetcar did not meet its predicted success, it should be remembered that this represented an entirely new concept in transportation at that time and that it was Amos F. Gerald who pioneered this type of traction motor in the Pine Tree State. The powerful diesel-electric locomotives on the railroads of Maine today are but much-improved models of this early effort. Gerald was a man given to making every effort to develop new ideas and would spare no expense to back his ideas and opinions to the limit. He was a true optimist in every respect.
            During 1896 Gerald and his associates moved into York County, acquiring the existing charter for the Kittery & York Street Railway. The road was placed under construction the following year and the 16.5-mile line from Kittery to York Beach opened during 1898 at which time the name of the road was changed to Portsmouth, Kittery & York Street Railway. The company lacked funds to build a drawbridge across the river into Portsmouth, New Hampshire but provided a double-ended steam ferryboat to transport its passengers across the stream.

The "Kittery" was built in Kennebunkport, ME in 1900 and 
served the railway company for more than 20 years.
Image from O. R. Cummings' book, Trolleys
to York Beach 1964.

Postcard from O. R. Cummings Collection in Seashore
Trolley Museum Library's 2015 book, The Illustrated
Atlas of Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946

     At the same time, the Gerald associates also secured control of the charter for the Portsmouth Horse Railway which had been projected but never built. In this venture, Gerald and Isaac C. Libby were joined by Lewis E. Staples, Stephen A. Nye, and Fritz M. Twitchell. The steam railroad connecting Portsmouth with Dover and which was controlled by the Boston & Maine secured an injunction and held up a move by the Portsmouth city council to grant Gerald a franchise for the Portsmouth operation which he sought February 14, 1898, an offer being made by the president of the Portsmouth & Dover Railroad to purchase the franchise from Gerald. A court battle ensued with Gerald and his associates winning their fight and receiving the sought after the charter, it being granted February 26, 1898. Then, despite vigorous denials in the press from the Gerald group, it was finally made public March 29 that Gerald had disposed of the contested franchise to the steam road for the sum of $25,000. The Portsmouth line was eventually constructed with Boston & Maine funds.
      In early 1896 Gerald and his associates bought the existing charter of the Brunswick & Topsham Electric Railway whose corporate structure was revamped and renamed Brunswick Electric Railroad. Construction began at once on this three-mile electric line which commenced at the Topsham Fair Grounds and extended in a loop around the Bowdoin Campus in Brunswick. The line opened October 14, 1896. With an eye to the future, Gerald obtained a charter for the Lewiston & Brunswick Electric Railway which proposed to build from Topsham to the Lewiston city limits.
    1897 must have been a busy year for Amos F. Gerald. He was disengaging himself from the Waterville & Fairfield Railway & Light Company as a result of a general reorganization of that company. His Bath Street Railway, the Brunswick Electric Railroad, the Bangor, Orono & Old Town Railway and the Skowhegan & Norridgewock roads were all in operation. The Penobscot Central was building an initial half-mile of track along Broad Street in Bangor and the construction of the Portsmouth, Kittery and York Street Railway had commenced and would open a portion of its route before the year-end.
       It was about this time that Gerald and his associates secured control of the Lewiston & Auburn Horse Railroad which had been electrified a year or two previously. On March 30, 1898, Gerald merged the Lewiston & Auburn Horse Railroad with the Brunswick Electric Railroad, formerly the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath Street Railway. The Bath Street Railway was taken under lease June 1 and merged formally into the system during 1901. Construction immediately commenced to link the three roads together and through service from Lewiston to Brunswick and Bath opened September 3, 1898. At the same time, a line had been built from Lewiston to Sabattus Village in the town of Webster resulting in a system totaling 52.9 miles in length, including the local trackage in the cities of Lewiston & Auburn.
       During 1899 Gerald secured a franchise to extend the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath road through Freeport to Yarmouth town line so as to effect a connection with the Portland & Yarmouth Railway which had opened in 1898 and would become a part of the Portland Railroad Company system in 1900. Franchise problems developed, however, and the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath road did not press this projected line.

The beautiful "Merrymeeting" parlor car was delivered to Gerald's Lewiston,
Brunswick, and Bath Street Railway in May 1899. The "Merrymeeting"
could be chartered for $10 a day. It was taken over by the Lewiston, Augusta,
& Waterville Street Railway in 1907 and continued in service until 1917.
Image from O. R. Cummings Collection at Seashore Trolley Museum.
The information above was taken from O. R. Cummings' book,
Trolley Parlor Cars of New England, 1959.

      Amos Gerald, however, found other matters to keep him busy during the year. As at this time he was one of the promoters who caused the building of the large woolen mill in Fairfield to be occupied by the American Woolen Company. He also organized the Summit Spring Water Company to supply clear spring water to the town of Fairfield and organized the Jaynes Creamery in Fairfield with himself as president and H. F. Jaynes as treasurer, this company soon was shipping five thousand gallons of cream to Boston monthly as well as doing a local dairy business.
       In 1899 Gerald also purchased the old Fairfield House on Main Street in Fairfield and had the structure moved to the rear of the lot, constructing a fine, modern hotel on the site known as The Gerald. When it opened to the public in June 1900 The Gerald was considered to be the most beautiful hotel for its size in the New England states. Gerald also purchased and remodeled the Fairfield (Waterville?) Opera House promoting engagements of famous theatrical companies and operas, later providing Saturday afternoon moving picture matinees.

The Gerald Hotel in its heyday in
Fairfield, Maine.
PWM postcard

The Gerald in Fairfield today (2017) PWM image

      Judging from old-time records and annual reports of the company itself, it appears that the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath Street Railway, like so many other ventures of Amos Gerald’s, had been promotional one, developed with the intent of disposing of the property to a likely purchaser. On the surface, the electric road appeared to be a moneymaker. For a period of nineteen months, it paid its stockholders dividends at the rate of one percent per month! This high annual rate of return very likely was what attracted the attention of a New York syndicate headed by E. Burton Hart, Jr. and Theodore L. Peters. This group purchased the major portion of the capital stock of the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath road at the same time also purchasing control of the Portsmouth, Kittery & York Street Railway from Gerald. Shortly after assuming control of the Lewiston-Bath road the syndicate learned that the dividends had been paid out of earnings and that the maintenance had been sadly neglected. The new owners were compelled to rebuild much of the line and the company never paid another dividend!
       In conjunction with the development of the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath Street Railway, Amos Gerald had seen to the construction of Merrymeeting Park a short distance outside of Brunswick and about opposite the main gate to the present day Brunswick Naval Air Station on the Bath Road. In the creation of this trolley resort, a characteristic of Gerald came to the fore. It has been said that his one defect as a builder was his over-elaboration to the extent of extravagance, his determination to provide the best and the largest without thought of the cost. Merrymeeting Park embraced one hundred and forty-seven acres all enclosed by a wire fence. An elaborate three-story casino was constructed on the site and an elevator provided to whisk patrons to the large dining room which featured a sumptuous fifty-cent shore dinner. Beautifully landscaped grounds surrounded the casino. There was an outdoor theater, a zoo which included monkeys, bears, moose and elk, a boathouse and various other attractions. A dancing platform was built in the center of a peaceful lagoon.
       Merrymeeting Park was designed and built to easily handle the recreational needs of a community of 250,000. Unhappily it could draw on a population of but about 25,000 and as soon as the novelty of the park commenced to pall the resort became a white elephant to the street railway company and was closed in 1906.

incorporated some aspect of a castle into a number of his
railway ventures. In this postcard of the Gerald's
Merrymeeting Park Casino has a castle-like flare added.
Postcard of PWM

As with many trolley parks of the times, Merrymeeting Park
had facilities to entertain large numbers of spectators.
Postcard of PWM

       During 1900 Amos Gerald apparently made his one bid in the direction of a political career when he ran as the Democratic candidate for Congress against Edwin C. Burleigh. He was defeated in this attempt 17,057 to 10,241.
            Gerald seems to have been disposing of much of his street railway holdings at this time. He formed the Augusta & Togus Electric Railroad Company early in 1900 and disposed of these rights to the Augusta, Hallowell & Gardiner Street Railway which built the line to the Old Soldiers Home in Togus. He was also promoting the Lewiston Winthrop Augusta Street Railway, the charter for which he sold to the Macomber group which purchased control of the Augusta, Hallowell & Gardiner Street Railway in 1901. Gerald had already disposed of his holdings in that company and no longer was listed as a director.
       He had time for other projects, however, beginning the construction of the Sebasticook River Power Plant at Benton Falls in 1900 which is still in operation (by the Central Maine Power Company) and he was opening his new hotel in Fairfield.
       On April 22, 1901, with Stephen A. Nye, Edward J. Lawrence and Albert B. Page, all of Fairfield, Gerald organized the Portland & Brunswick Street Railway with the intention of building a line from Brunswick to Yarmouth so as to provide a connection between the Portland Railroad system and the Lewiston-Bath system. He secured the original franchise held by the Lewiston system in the area for a token payment of one dollar. This move was held up by the Railroad Commissioner as these franchise rights had been included in the property covered by the Lewiston road’s first mortgage bonds. The legal entanglements out of the way, Gerald proceeded to construct this 15.4-mile connecting link. It was opened between Yarmouth and Brunswick by way of South Freeport and Freeport Village August 8, 1902.
       The Portland & Brunswick Street Railway was another Gerald promotion, designed to be constructed and sold either to the syndicate operating the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath Street Railway or to the Portland Railroad Company. It was definitely a connecting link, the traffic generated along the line itself being insufficient to provide an ample return on the investment. Yielding again to his penchant for over-building, Gerald constructed an elaborate summer resort at South Freeport known as Casco Castle. Castles apparently were Gerald’s favorite form of architecture as evidenced by several buildings he constructed and by the design of his last residence built on Main Street in Fairfield which included a tower-shaped entrance and battlements. Casco Castle, despite its ornateness and the fieldstone castle-like tower connected to the main building on the northerly and, failed to draw the necessary number of patrons despite the many extra carloads which arrived daily and the boat service which was also available.
        To reach the resort, a very impressive suspension bridge had been constructed over a deep ravine. To supply the needs for water for a resort of this size, it was found that over thirty thousand dollars need to be expended for drilling through the rock. And this was thirty thousand dollars the faltering street railway company found difficult to come by. By 1906 an agreement was entered into with the Portland Railroad Company providing for the operation of through streetcar service direct from Monument Square in Portland to Brunswick. As the time required for this twenty-eight-mile run was two hours, this engendered very little through traffic.

Another of Gerald's "castles" incorporated into one of his railway ventures.
Postcard from O. R. Cummings Collection in Seashore
Trolley Museum Library's 2015 book, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946.

The suspension bridge for guests to access the castle from the trolley stop
is visible in this image. The Camilla was nearly new in this 1903-04 image.
Image from O. R. Cummings' book, Trolleys to Brunswick, Maine 1896-1937,
published in 1966.

       Amos Gerald chartered the Lisbon, Durham & Freeport Street Railway and the Auburn, Durham & Yarmouth Street Railway, both in 1907 with the hope of providing a shorter street railway route between Maine’s two largest centers of population. Fortunately, no doubt, neither of these projects developed beyond the charter stage. The Portland & Brunswick Extension Railway had also been chartered by Gerald which proposed to build an extension of the Brunswick-Yarmouth road into Portland via the Middle Road. This, however, was mainly to induce the Portland Railroad into instituting through car service to Brunswick and no serious attempt was made to follow through on the proposal. It did, however, bring the Portland road to terms.
       Attempts to dispose of the Portland & Brunswick Street Railway were to no avail as neither of the major connecting systems wished to be burdened with the mounting deficits nor with the Casco Castle resort. Foreclosure proceedings in 1911 eventually placed the road in hands of Lewiston, Augusta & Waterville Street Railway, successors to the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath Company.
       Amos Gerald continued to promote and to build street railway lines. May 31m 1902 saw the formation of the Waterville & Oakland Street Railway by Gerald, Edward J. Lawrence, and Albert D. Page all of Fairfield, and Cyrus W. Davis of Waterville. This road, linking Waterville with Oakland, 5.4 miles distant, opened July 2, 1903. In 1907 Gerald conveyed his interest in this road to Charles F, Johnson of Waterville.

Amos Fitz Gerald is pictured here on the far left, at the
Messalonskee Hall. The Waterville & Oakland Street Railway Company
had a dance hall above the carbarn in Oakland.
Image from O. R. Cummings' book, Waterville, Fairfield, & Oakland
Railway Company, 1965.

This a Google Maps screenshot of Amos Fitz Gerald's home at 107
Main Street in Fairfield, Maine. Built with cement blocks from his
cement block plant. Did I mention he liked castles? ;)

       Gerald organized the Augusta & Oakland Railway in July 1902 which proposed to extend from Augusta through Belgrade and Sidney to Oakland. This charter was permitted to lapse. In March of the same year, he secured a charter for the Lincoln County Street Railway which would have extended from Wiscasset through Edgecomb to Boothbay Harbor, but no further development of this project took place.
       Tragedy struck the Gerald family in 1902, when, on July 12, their only daughter Helen died. She was the wife of Holman Day, the noted Maine novelist. Surviving her, besides her husband, was a daughter Dorothy.
       It was during 1903 that operation of the Skowhegan-Norridgewock railway was suspended as a result of lack of patronage. It was about this time that Gerald became interested in the cement block business and he opened a plant for this purpose near Emery Hill in Shawmut. This was a new concept in the building industry at that time and, ever ready to adapt himself to innovations, Gerald proceeded to construct the first concrete residence in the Town of Fairfield where he was to make his home for the balance of his life. The building today is occupied by a funeral home, and featured Gerald’s liking for castle-like architecture. In addition to turning out cement blocks, Gerald perfected a method of casting concrete telephone poles and his invention was adopted by the government as a means of supplying utility poles at outlying military posts. Many of the harbor defense installations in and around Portland Harbor made use of this type pole and some remained in service until very recently at the former Fort Preble grounds now occupied by the Southern Maine Vocational School in South Portland. Reportedly some may still be seen in the towns of China and Vassalboro and they are still widely used in several European countries where there is a scarcity of wood.
       On February 23, 1906, Gerald secured the charter for the Augusta, Oakland & Waterville Street Railway which more or less followed the previously chartered Augusta & Oakland road, but avoided the town of Belgrade. The charter was permitted to lapse in 1909 as a different group linked Augusta with Waterville on the opposite side of the Kennebec River through Vassalboro.
        Gerald’s final venture into street railway business was the organization of the Fairfield & Shawmut Railway. This was chartered February 26, 1903, with William T. Haynes George F. Terry, Perham S. Heald, and Harvey D. Eaton, all of Waterville being the other incorporators. Construction was held up until a large plant was built at Shawmut Village by the Keyes Fiber Company in 1906. The $30,000 gold first mortgage bonds of the company were subscribed to by the president of the Bangor Railway & Electric Company. (Indications are that Gerald hoped to push this road through to Skowhegan passing the Good Will School in Hinkley en route, but the road was never extended beyond the Keyes plant in Shawmut. It has also been suggested that at the time the Bangor system was preparing plans for extending its street railway line from Hampden to a connection with the Waterville lines which then would have tied Bangor in with the street railway network throughout the state, hence their interest in acquiring the bonds of the Shawmut road. No such extension ever took place, however.
       The Fairfield & Shawmut Railway commenced operations on October 8, 1907. It provided a modest return over its 2.5 miles of route in its early years and paid regular dividends until 1912 when there apparently was a change of command and Gerald was no longer associated with the company. From that time on, revenues began to drop gradually and on July 23, 1927, with no money in the treasury to pay off the twenty-year gold bonds, the road ceased operation.
       With the opening of the Fairfield & Shawmut Railway, Amos Gerald had constructed his last street railway. The electric street railways which Gerald promoted and built amounted to a total of approximately one hundred and fifty miles of track. These same companies for the most part later were to merge and become portions of other and larger systems with a combined total mileage of more than three hundred and twenty-five miles. This out of a total of 520 miles of electric street railway lines within the Pine Tree State. It is no wonder that even today Amos F. Gerald is hailed as the “Electric Railway King” of the Pine Tree State!

Amos Fitz Gerald's final railway venture. One of the last street railways to be
built in Maine, the Fairfield & Shawmut Railway Company started operation
on October 8, 1907. Image from O. R. Cummings' book, Waterville, Fairfield,
& Oakland Railway 
Company, 1965.

       One of his last efforts on behalf of the industry he so greatly helped to develop ways to promote a union waiting station in Fairfield Square. At this point, the electric streetcars of three independent street rails met to exchange passengers and Gerald’s concern was for their comfort and convenience. Speaking at the meeting of the Fairfield Board of Trade but a few weeks before his death, Amos Gerald stated: “ I would rather see the people riding on the railroads I have helped to build and enjoying themselves than to lay up money in the bank.” It was understood his continuing interest in the field of electric transportation.
       During the final year of his life, Gerald was in poor health although bringing to completion a small dam on Pattee Pond for the generation of electric current. He improved sufficiently to be up and about in his last few months and was in Portland on a business trip when he was stricken on Exchange Street. Taken to Maine General Hospital on a Tuesday, he died of apoplexy on Saturday, June 14, 1913.
            Surviving him was his wife, the former Caroline W. Rowell, and two sisters, Mrs. Edwin (Lydia) Towne of Waterville and Mrs. Charles (Dora) Knight of Lowell, Massachusetts. Another sister, Mrs. Jane Pratt and a brother, Bradbury Gerald had died previously.
            On the day that the “Electric Railway King” was buried, nearly every electric car in the State of Maine came to a halt for three minutes at 2 P.M. as a token of respect.

Click Here for Ninety Communities in Maine had Electric Railway Service!
Click Here for 57 million Passengers Carried on Electric Railways in Maine in 1915!
Click Here for The Beginning of an Interurban Classic - July 2, 1914


     O. R. Cummings was a long-time member of Seashore Trolley Museum and the historian of the New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS). He was responsible for writing and publishing more than fifty books related to railway systems, in particular, systems in New England.. O. R. was a friend of mine and he was very helpful in supplying information and support for many projects I have had the privilege to work on at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. While working on developing the exhibit and educational components of the 1907 electric locomotive, Atlantic Shore Line No. 100 restoration project in 2008, O. R. mailed me the above biography written by Charles D. Heseltine. O.R. told me that the story of Amos Fitz Gerald and his substantial contribution to Maine's electric railway industry needed to be told. This post is a step towards communicating Gerald's role in Maine's electric railway history.

     The images inserted in the text of Heseltine's biography of Amos Fitz Gerald were pulled from a number of books O.R. Cummings either published or is a contributor. One of those books is the 2015 publication by the NEERHS Library Committee, The Illustrated Atlas of Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946. For a number of years, prior to his death, O. R. worked closely with members of the Library Committee of the NEERHS/Seashore Trolley Museum. O.R. spent many, many hours explaining details of hundreds of images and hundreds, of his thousands, of his postcards of railway-related subjects.

Cover of New England Electric Railway Historical
Society's Library 2015 publication. PWM book
Several of O. R. Cummings' books:

1965 - PWM book

1964 - PWM book

1957 - PWM book

1959 - PWM book

1969 - PWM book

1966 - PWM book

1967 - PWM book

Restoration work continues on the Narcissus. The Narcissus is more than 100 years old now and has so many incredible stories to share. The restoration is but one.

     The Narcissus is featured in the national Gold Award-winning novel, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride. The "Elegant Ride" is the Narcissus. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914, between Lewiston and Portland, Maine, during campaigning for the Progressive Party candidates. June 2020

Independent book publisher, Phil Morse, holding
the Gold Book Award Winner plaque for
 the Middle Reader category for The Eric
Hoffer Book Award. Congratulations to
award-winning Maine author,
Jean M. Flahive

     The paperback edition of Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride can be purchased online through the Seashore Trolley Museum's store website. Books purchased through the Museum's website directly benefit the Museum and the Narcissus project. Amazon book purchases also benefit the Museum and the Narcissus.

Click Here to go to the Museum Store webpage to order online

Click Here to go to the Amazon page to order the book online

Click Here to go to the ebook page

Books are available at these local bookstores in Maine:
The Book Review, Falmouth
The Bookworm, Gorham
Letterpress Books, Portland
Nonesuch Books and More, South Portland
Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shops - All locations

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride
by Jean M. Flahive
Illustrations by Amy J. Gagnon

     Millie Thayer is a headstrong farmer's daughter who chases her dreams in a way you would expect a little girl nicknamed "Spitfire" would-running full tilt and with her eyes on the stars. Dreaming of leaving the farm life, working in the city, and fighting for women's right to vote, Millie imagines flying away on a magic carpet. One day, that flying carpet shows up in the form of an electric trolley that cuts across her farm. A fortune-teller predicts that Millie's path will cross that of someone famous. Suddenly, she finds herself caught up in events that shake the nation, Maine, and her family. Despairing that her dreams may be shattered, Millie learns, in an unexpected way, that dreams can be shared.
A resource for teachers 
Maine Historical Society has created companion lesson plans inspired by Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride - These State-standard-based lesson plans for classroom use in grades 6, 7, and 8 are now completed. They will be uploaded to the Maine Memory Network and will be included with the other statewide lesson plans K-12. Once a link is available, it will be posted here. The lesson plans will also be uploaded and available through the Seashore Trolley Museum's website later in July 2020. Go to the Teacher Resource Page in the pulldown for more details.

The ebook is available through Amazon Kindle Click HERE

The audiobook is now available Click HERE to go to the Audible page.

2-minute, 30-second, Retail Audio Sample of the Audiobook 

Award-winning author, Jean M. Flahive


Click Here to read the post - Coveted Blueink Starred Review  - Notable Book - January 20, 2020

Click Here to read the post - Three 5-Star Reviews from Readers' Favorite posted on January 6, 2020

Click Here to read January 24, 2020 - Four-Star Clarion Review

Click Here to read January 19, 2020 - Theodore Roosevelt Center Blog Post Review

Click Here to read the December 25, 2019 4-Stars out of 4-Stars Review through OnlineBookClub

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.

     Here is an example of how donations to the Narcissus Project now will help with the interpretation portion of the project. The interpretation programming will include exhibits, displays, education programming. During 2019, through generous donations to the Narcissus Project, we were able to conserve, replicate, and have high resolutions digital image files made of the original, 1910, 25.5-foot long, surveyor map of the elevation and grade of the 30-mile private right-of-way of the Portland, Gray, and Lewiston Railroad (Portland-Lewiston Interurban)
Thank You!

MUST-READ! - Click Here 

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. We are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

See below for Donation options -
It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 
Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit
educational organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Renaissance Charitable Foundation (LPCT) by Fiduciary Trust Charitable Giving Fund
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story of this Maine gem.

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - Index

The Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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