Human Connections: History of the land and the Interurban Railway

 

This parcel and its trails present remarkable opportunities for historic interpretation and preservation. The Chandler family acquired this land in 1850. They had settled across the street in 1762 and have remained through the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The campaign parcel acreage includes portions of the lot that was cleared in the 1750’s for the New Gloucester Blockhouse, a battleground during the French and Indian Wars. The Chandler family, descended from the Pilgrims of Plymouth and early settlers of old North Yarmouth, included Revolutionary War tavern owners, patriots, and soldiers.

With access from the center of the historic village, this parcel abuts historic homes and churches, the library, and the town hall, all connected by the historic Portland-Lewiston Interurban rail bed (now a pedestrian trail).

Downhill in the Intervale, the parcel includes land near the historic train station on the Maine Central (now Pan Am) Railroad. Stevens Brook which runs through the parcel, was the site of the first sawmill of the initial Anglo settlers. The open meadows and marshes on the parcel were first a town common (Proprietry) that produced a communal harvest of hay and straw, and later divided into small agricultural lots in the Proprietor’s First Division.

The Portland- Lewiston Interurban Historic Electric Railroad

The Portland-Lewiston Interurban historic electric railroad ran through the Chandler parcel from 1914 to 1933, stopping in New Gloucester at three different platforms. The Interurban was considered one of Maine’s finest railways. A freight shed (passenger station) was situated the top of the hill after the Penney Road platform, located on the Chandler parcel. The freight shed (passenger station) pictured above is the restored Morrison Freight Shed that was located in West Falmouth. The shed on the Chandler parcel probably looked quite similar.

The Interurban ran successfully until the increase of motor vehicles and the construction of a highway connecting Portland and Lewiston. Today, a trail remains where the Interurban railway ran across the Chandler parcel. It is currently a snowmobile trail. We hope to restore the bridges that run over the brooks and envision a trail that can help to preserve the rich history of the railway while being used throughout the year by walkers, runners, skiers, and snowmobilers.