Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Maine Bicentennial Series - Fryeburg Horse Railroad 1887-1913

Once Upon A Time - "The Gay 90s" in Fryeburg, Maine
P & O Depot, Village, Fairgrounds, Martha's Grove
Fortunately there is no live overhead wire, otherwise those
young lads on the roof of the car might be in for a shock.
O. R. Cummings Collection 2009_2_18_24
Included in the NEERHS 2015 book, "The Illustrated Atlas of
Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946."

Here is the newest release in the Maine Bicentennial series of electric railways in Maine. This blog post features the summary of the Fryeburg Horse Railroad as written by O. R. Cummings in his 1955 book, Toonervilles of Maine: The Pine Tree State
Additional photos will be credited accordingly. This material is taken from a copy of Toonervilles of Maine book acquired by this blogger.

Click Here for the post: Ninety Communities in Maine had Electric Railway Service!
Click Here for the post: 57 Million Passengers Carried on Electric Railways in Maine in 1915!
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - History of the Portland Railroad 1860-1941
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - History of the Calais Street Railway 1894-1929
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - History of Aroostook Valley Railroad 1909-1946
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - Skowhegan & Norridgewock Railway 1894-1903
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - The Norway and Paris Street Railway 1894-1918
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - Benton and Fairfield Railway 1898-1928
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - The Somerset Traction Company 1895-1928
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - The Fairfield and Shawmut Railway 1903-1927
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - Waterville, Fairfield, & Oakland Rwy 1887-1937
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - Trolleys to Augusta, Maine 1889-1932
Click Here for the post: Maine Bicentennial series - Rockland, South Thomaston, & St. George Rwy
Click Here for post: Maine Bicentennial series - Rockland, Thomaston, & Camden St.Rwy. '92-1931

Seashore Trolley Museum, the Museum of Mass Transit in Kennebunkport, Maine, is celebrating its 80th Birthday year in 2019! Many events are scheduled and many more will be scheduled before the opening of public operations on May 4, 2019. 

The Last Horsecar Line in New England

     That is the distinction held by the Fryeburg Horse Railroad which was abandoned in the fall of 1913 after providing service for nearly 25 years over its three-mile route in western Maine.

     The Fryeburg Horse Railroad Company was chartered on March 3, 1887, on July 16th of that year, was granted a 20-year municipal franchise to build from Maine Central Railroad in Fryeburg, past the West Oxford Agricultural Fairgrounds, to a resort known as Martha's Grove.

     Light steel rail, laid on wooden stringers, was used in building the road, which cost about $6,500 to construct. Another $800 or so was invested in rolling stock, practically all of which was purchased second-hand from the Portland Railroad Company.

Union Station on the destination sign betrays the Portland
Railroad origin of this open car of the Fryeburg Horse
Railroad. A young college student is apparently driving
this pre-20th-century version of rapid transit.
Photo by Edward D. Levitt. Photo in the
O. R. Cummings Collection 2009_2_18_25
     The operation began in 1889, with cars running during the summer season only. Only one car, drawn by one horse, was used at a time and the driver doubled as the conductor. For these duties, he was paid the princely sum of $25 per annum. It cost more to take care of the horse!

     Around 1892, Martha's Grove was acquired by the Chautauqua Association as a site for its annual summer meeting. This meant a little more revenue for the horse railroad and the company started to spend some money to straighten the track and replace the old wooden stringers with ties. Eventually, the greater part of the line was rebuilt with heavier rail and new ties and some new cars were purchased.
Fryeburg Horse Railroad - 3 miles total trackage
Map created by Charles D. Heseltine - from 
he NEERHS 2015 book, "The Illustrated Atlas of
Maine's Street & Electric Railways 1863-1946."

     According to the 1896 report of the Railroad Commissioners, the Fryeburg Horse Railroad in that year owned three closed cars and one open. Since the line was a summer proposition, it would seem that there should have been more open than closed cars. Only one horse was owned by the company and when more than one car had to be operated, additional hayburners could always be hired at a local livery stable.

     Permission to electrify its line was granted to the Fryeburg Horse Railroad in 1897, but with a total income of $600 or $700 a year, there was no money for such an expensive undertaking. Neither was there any money to build proposed extensions from Fryeburg to Lovell and to Cornish. 

     Two more open cars were purchased in 1902 at a cost of $112.38, and during that same year, Seth W. Fife of Fryeburg, who had been superintendent of the road since its opening, was succeeded by A. Crosby Kennett of Conway, NH.

A closed car and an open car full for the ride to
the fairgrounds. Photo in the
O. R. Cummings Collection 2009_2_18_31

     Up until 1902, the company had no car barn but in that year the sum of $87.75 was spent for a shed where the horsecars could be stored. At this time, there were three closed and three open cars on the roster and the line was being operated four months annually - from June 1 to Oct. 1.

     The 1907 report of the Railroad Commissioners mentions that the line was being operated by one Frank L. Meserve. Under an oral agreement with the company, he received all revenues and paid all costs of operations and kept what money remained. Very little was spent in maintaining the road and in 1910, the Railroad Commissioners commented that new ties and ballast were greatly needed.

     By 1913, one of the closed cars had been discarded. Meserve was no longer operating the line and Mr. Fife was back in his old post as superintendent. There were no more Chautauqua meetings at Martha's Grove and there wasn't enough local business to make continued operation worthwhile. The summer of 1913 was the last and the tracks were torn up in the following year.

Click on: "Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride," to learn about the young reader historical fiction chapter book due for release this fall. Proceeds will benefit the Narcissus Project :)

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.
Thank You

   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. With our estimate to have the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Narcissus in the fall of 2021, 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.

The 2015 publication of, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways
1863-1946, was published by the Library
at Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport.
Copies are available for purchase from the

Seashore Trolley Museum, - Museum of Mass Transit, is celebrating its 80th Birthday year in 2019! 
Special Events are scheduled  - Public operations start on May 4, 2019. 
Click Here for the 2019 Events & Special Activities for the 80th Anniversary Season, with hot links

Click Here for 2019 Special Events 


Click Here for 80th Anniversary Year - Seashore Trolley Museum 1939-2019 post
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year -A Look Back at the 50s - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year - A Look Back at the 60s  - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year -A Look Back at the '70s - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for The Birth of Seashore Trolley Museum Blog Post
Click Here for STM's Ten National Register of Historic Places Electric Railway Vehicles post
Click Here for 1901 Tower C Boston Elevated Railway to STM in 1975
Click Here for No. 38 - 1906 Manchester & Nashua Street Railway - Acquired March 21, 1940
Click Here for No. 60 - 1895 Manchester Street Railway - Acquired April 11, 1941
Click Here for No. 4387 - 1918 Eastern Mass. Street Railway - Acquired August 29, 1946
Click Here for No. 100 - 1906 Atlantic Shore Line Railway - Acquired 1949
Click Here for No. 108 - 1904 Portsmouth, Dover & York Street Railway - Acquired 1949
Click Here for No. 14 Narcissus 1912 Portland-Lewiston Interurban - Acquired 1969

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 finance@NEERHS.org 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: finance@NEERHS.org 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 finance@NEERHS.org 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, pmorse31@gmail.com 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
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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