Feeling for a moment like we’ve stepped into a story from Thomas the Tank Engine, we arrive at the Boothbay Railway Museum. Only seconds later, one of their charming German tank engines rushes up to greet us. Nice touch. This great morning just keeps getting better.
As a special opportunity during the Convention, Boothbay is offering driver training programs. For a fee, you spend a morning learning to care for and drive one of these engines. Sure, leading up to the Convention I had a pile of reasons not to do this but I wasn’t long on the site before I started to regret not signing up for this. I really like these little German engines and a day with one would be superb. I didn’t do myself any favours talking myself out of this experience. Argh. Next time…
A wander through the car shed and toward the shops. Again, more invitations to come inside and look around. So much to see and so many welcoming volunteers eager to share what they’re working on. The head lamp on Henschel #6 is pretty cool eh?
Everyone, at every Convention event, was so keen to do as much as they could to really indulge in narrow gauge madness. I still feel like the folks at Boothbay were in with what might be the most ambitious plan of the day: their track is a small, but hilly, loop circling their property. They decided to run two sets of two trains around their loop. Leading will be a steam-hauled train of coaches and trailing each will be one of the railcars. One set staged at the top of the loop and the other, the opposite side. It was so well orchestrated and a tribute to more superb planning on the part of the Museum’s volunteers and their commitment to creating a truly memorable experience. Everywhere I turned here, there was something moving. Even inside the car shed, you could try your hand at operating a genuine two foot gauge hand car.
Thank you to everyone here. What a superb morning. I could spend a lot of time sitting on the station platform and watching the parade of narrow gauge trains roll past. It might be the busiest railroad service I’ve witnessed anywhere. Yup, with a bottle of Capt’n Eli’s root beer in my hand and the sound of narrow gauge steam. Does it get any better?
Boothbay Railway Museum is one of those hidden gems of a railway museum. It might be easy to overlook it and think it more a roadside attraction that a serious museum but doing so you’d be making a terrific mistake. Their restoration shop is superb and capable of very serious work. Furthermore, they’re intent reaches beyond the rails to record so much of Maine’s transportation history. Further still, they regularly host events to celebrate Maine’s maker and craft history. It’s a site that is a real credit to the State and I left, once again, wishing we had something like it here on the Island.
Learn more about the Museum on their website: railwayvillage.org/