WW&F rolls on in winter

Thu, 02/10/2022 - 8:15am

Preservation at Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in Alna looks like this in winter: On a January Tuesday morning, a week and a half before the first Steam & Sleighs date, our volunteer track crew drove in through freezing rain to open the railroad from Sheepscot to Top of Mountain. The prior night’s three inches of snow wasn’t much bother; however, a month's worth of freeze/thaw cycles left several road crossings with four inches-plus of solid ice and frozen mud on top of the rail.

Another 18 inches of snow was going to be hard enough to deal with alone; and these frozen crossings needed to go this week. The crew, led by Roadmaster Steve Lennox, had Tuesday and Wednesday to get this done, so they braved the freezing rain to salt, wait, then chip and shovel out these frozen crossings. Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the crew would be back on the line with a major plowing effort.

The 18-inch snowstorm came as a blizzard. With drifts up to three feet, our hearty crew tackled it again the Tuesday after the blizzard. The prior week's ice-clearing efforts at the crossings paid off; however, there were still the main line, a dozen switches and three yards to clear. This was dovetailed with two steam locomotive tests, moving freight cars and switching the passenger cars into the correct order. A friendly minor derailment capstoned the experience at the end of Wednesday. Herculean effort doesn't begin to describe it. What did we get for it? A sleet and ice storm the day before our event.

With absolute commitment to that Saturday’s Steam & Sleighs, another crew went out Saturday morning fighting iced crossings, stiff sleet accumulation and frozen switches, finishing just as the first passenger train departed Sheepscot Station.

Thank you snow-clearing track crew: Steve Lennox, Brian Whitney, Chuck Billings, JB Smith, Steve Piwowarski, Scott Higgins, Mike Fox, Jason Lamontagne, Steve Leet, Ed Lecuyer, Ben Richards, Paul Richard, Dan Malkowski, Joe Fox, Dave and Conner Kelly, Greg Nazarow, James Patten, Pete and Cody Stevens, Eric Snyder, Joshua Zukerman and Tom Leckey. A sincere apology to any missed. These were the snow-clearing sign-ins in our volunteer log.

We committed to SeaLyon and the public to run Steam & Sleighs. We’re committed to our mission of preserving and operating the WW&F Railway. This is what that commitment looks like. This is preservation at its finest.