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The "Last Run" out of the B&MLRR's Belfast Yard

June 9, 2005

Photographs by Roger Pierce

    On August 4, 1868, ground was broken on the waterfront at Belfast, ME, for the construction of a by then long proposed and already four times chartered railroad to run from that mid-coast Maine city's harbor on Belfast Bay inland for 33 miles across Waldo County where it would eventually join the main line of the Maine Central Railroad at Burnham Junction. For the next 137 years that same waterfront land on which the construction of the line had begun was used by the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad as its main train yard and the site of Milepost 0.0. In the spring of 2005, however, the then operators of the B&ML, Railstar Inc., unexpectedly defaulted on its monthly lease payments to the City of Belfast for the land on which the yard is located (to which the City had acquired title some years earlier), and in May it was formally notified by the City that it would be evicted in 30 days. 

    On June 9, 2005, the more than century-and-a-quarter old manpowered "Armstrong" turntable located at the East end of the yard was used for the last time as the half-century old BML#54 left the engine house for the last time, was switched on the turntable to the main line, and then hauled out with it to Unity a single ex-BAR refer (which had been used in recent years as the B&ML's ticket office and passenger waiting room) and BMS#16, another GE 70-ton locomotive (currently inoperable) which had been acquired some years earlier from the Berlin Mills Railroad but was never renumbered or repainted in B&ML colors. (BMS#16 thus became the last piece of rolling stock to ever be moved on the turntable.)

    A little before 2 p.m. on that sunny late Spring afternoon this "Last Run" left the Belfast yard, and when it did so the waterfront property which had been the B&ML's home since 1868 officially ceased to be a working train yard for the first time in 137 years. Within a few days the road's landmark "Armstrong" turntable was removed and the pit it occupied was filled in with dirt. Over the next few weeks much of the track in the yard was also pulled up as the City of Belfast considered what potential new use to put the waterfront property to in the years to come.

    A little more than two miles outside of Belfast this "Last Run" stopped for about fifteen minutes at the private siding of the City Point Central Railroad Museum located next to the Oak Hill Road grade crossing (MP 2.14) to adjust the coupling between the ex-BAR refer and locomotive BMS#16 being towed by adding a steel safety cable and also to collect the line's tamper which would follow the "Last Run" to Unity for storage. Roger Pierce, the CPC's restorer and master carpenter, took the opportunity of that visit to memorialize the "Last Run" with the following fifteen photographs.

(Click on each image to see at full size.}

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BMS#16 became the last locomotive to ever use the "Armstrong" turntable BMS#16 on the turntable; BML#52, BML#54, & ex-BAR refer in the yard (l to r) BMS#16 about to be pulled off the turntable by BML#54 to go to Unity
lastrun_04.jpg lastrun_05.jpg lastrun_06.jpg
The "Last Run" stops at the CPC turnout (MP 2.16) to collect tamper At the City Point Central RR Museum turnout (Oak Hill Rd grade crossing) The "Last Run" stopped here to make some last minute adjustments
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The "Last Run": BML#54, ex-BAR refer, BMS#16, & tamper The "Last Run" at City Point sitting by the CPC (ex-Brooks) section house The "Last Run" starting across the Oak Hill Rd grade crossing
lastrun_10.jpg lastrun_11.jpg lastrun_12.jpg
Crossing the Oak Hill Rd grade crossing with the tamper ready to follow The tamper pulls on to the main line to follow the "Last Run" to Unity The "Last Run" crosses Oak Hill Rd heading for Unity for storage
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The "Last Run" clears the Oak Hill Rd grade crossing The "Last Run" clears the Oak Hill Rd grade crossing The tamper enters the Oak Hill Rd grade crossing

Photographs courtesy of Roger Pierce.

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