The Narrow Gauge
Maybe it was from last October, but this sweet little railroad museum in Portland, ME is too good to let fall by the 2012 wayside. It shouldn't suffer for my (really quite incredible) procrastination, and if it inspires even just one or two of you to visit during your Vacationland travels, then it was worth the wait. Welcome to the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum!
This was one of those twee little tourist things I sometimes get my heart set on, and once that happens there's no way it's not going down in the agenda. It might bore you to tears, but I was tickled pink by its history and mission, which I pulled here from their website.
"From the 1870s until the 1940s, some 200 miles of narrow gauge lines (the rails are just two feet apart!) served the state’s smaller communities. Today, our Museum visitors relive railroading as it once was and...have the unique pleasure of riding along the shore of Casco Bay in an antique rail car pulled by historic steam or diesel locomotives. The route follows the 1846 right of way of the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad, linking Portland with Montreal. During a three-mile round-trip, visitors take in the sights of the waterfront, harbor, and islands, all described – along with the story of Maine’s narrow-gauge railroads – by our conductors and docents."
Are you kidding me? That sounded like a ball, so we woke up, grabbed breakfast at an adorable little place called the Mornings In Paris Old World Cafe (what a mouthful), swept through a handful of open shops in the Old Port District and then popped into the museum to wander around awhile before they called out All Aboard!
In some of the photos in the sets above, you can glimpse the splendor and comfort in which folks got to ride around. Can you even imagine train rides being as wonderful as this today? The cars on display were magnificent, even the ones not intended for passengers. I was on cloud nine and hadn't even gotten on the moving train yet.
One day we'll go back during the holidays, when it's all decked as the Polar Express for Christmas. (Oh yes, they do. SKWEE!) I'll just let y'all sit back and enjoy the ride now.
Casco Bay is beautiful and you can see that folks there really use it recreationally - for boating, jogging, biking and picnicking - which is always awesome. They let you out at the end of the line to explore and stretch your legs, snap a few photos, that sort of thing. It was really lovely, just super fun and cute and wholesome and a perfect way to kill an hour or two if you're out and about on a beautiful day like we were.
That's it for now. I'll be back soon with outtakes from our family portrait, more San Francisco snapshots, and a recipe for the tasty bourbon slush I whipped up for a cocktail battle last weekend. Hope everyone is having a swell February out there - looks like we'll be hunkering down for our first real New England blizzard out here come Friday!