Fall comes to Alna railway museum

Posted:  Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 2:30pm
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“There it goes,” Henry Reed, 3, told parents Joshua and Wallis Reed Saturday as an Alna Center-bound train departed Sheepscot Station at Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum Saturday.

“It comes back in a little while,” he said.

He knew. The Reeds of Richmond had been to Alna’s narrow gauge nonprofit for other events. It was their first time at the fall festival. What keeps them coming back?

“Somebody likes trains,” Wallis Reed said, pointing to her son, still looking out to the tracks from the museum’s workshop, with its new concrete floor. Henry’s brother Michael, 1, was looking around from the baby carrier on his mother’s back. Reed and other repeat visitors interviewed also said the museum’s volunteers are another reason they go there.

“They are so good with children,” Windham’s Sara Yates said. She and husband Bill brought son Liam, 12, and daughters Riley, 10, Morgan, 7, and Devon, 5, to the festival. Riley said she was most looking forward to the pumpkin patch.

Joshua Gionet, 10, of Camden, sister Cailyn Gionet, 12, and their brother Owen King, 3, attending with their mother Cortney Sukeforth, had just returned with their pumpkin picks. Joshua had decorated his with markers. And he said he bobbed for an apple, but it was too slippery. Then the volunteer let him just take one,  his mother said, smiling. “They really do a good job,” Sukeforth added.

On the platform before another run to Alna Center, board member-train conductor James Patten of Newcastle briefed the next passengers on when to expect being picked up for a return run from their destination, Alna Center. “So, if you’re confused, he said,” laughing with a visitor and raising his gloved hands, “just ask someone up there when more trains are coming.”

Three hundred and sixty people, including 100 in a standing-room only night ride, attended the festival, board member and project manager Jason Lamontagne said later. Lamontagne added the museum’s thanks to another area nonprofit, Boothbay Railway Village in Boothbay, for this year’s loan of a passenger car, Bridgton & Saco River Railroad baggage-mail-express No. 11.

On Saturday, it was in use with WW & F’s Wiscasset & Quebec Railroad Coach No. 3. According to placards in the cars, Jackson & Sharp built both, years apart. And WW & F Railway Museum volunteer Bill Reidy of Westwood, Massachusetts said the two likely ran together at Bridgton & Saco River Railroad after No. 3 was moved there in the early 20th century.

As visitors came and went, fellow volunteers Zach Willey of Warren, Mike Fox of Waterford and Dana Deering of Buxton worked in the sun outside the workshop to free a wrench from a makeshift handle. Asked why they give the museum their time, Fox, who had been hammering at the items, got laughs from the others in saying, “Is there something better to do?”

Then he said, “It’s recreating history.”

“And having fun doing it,” Deering said.