Category Archives: General Museum News

News, events, and other tidbits about the WW&F Railway Museum

(Not Entirely) Quiet Times on the Sheepcot Valley Narrow Gauge

Times are quiet on our Mountain Extension near Trout Brook bridge.  We had planned a busy Spring Work Weekend in late April as we prepare for our Mountain Extension’s opening, but the pandemic has delayed that work.  That hasn’t meant we had to stop all progress on our Railway.  Stewart Rhine photo.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly all the non-profits, businesses and our other friends in the Sheepscot Valley, not to mention across the rest of Maine, the U.S. and the world.  Like our friends, our Railway is no exception.  We are currently closed to the public and nearly all our volunteers.  We currently plan to open to the public August 8th and to our volunteers sooner, all of course dependent on guidance by the CDC and state of Maine.

That doesn’t mean, however, our progress has completely stopped!

Alna Center Pavilion

Stewart Rhine photo.

Just before pandemic restrictions hit in mid-March, a small volunteer crew had finished the erection of half of the pavilion at Alna Center, including its roof.  Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, we plan to set the footings for the rest of the posts and then erect the rest of the building.

Our pavilion will serve as a nearly all-weather venue at our Alna Center station for special events like our Easter Eggspress, Music on the Railway concert series, evening talks, Fall Festival and Victorian Christmas.  Our thanks to Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum, with provided us the opportunity to repurpose this building they had used to shelter the recent restoration of their schooner Mary E.

Car Barn Extension

Brendan Barry photo.

When the pandemic hit, we were well along with our Sheepscot Car Barn Extension.  In order to secure the building, a small group of local volunteers, following social distancing guidelines, have worked to finish the walls, roof and doors to secure the building.

Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum has provided much of the funding for the extension to, in part, shelter a portion of their collection.  Once completed, this building will provide an exhibition space highlighting the story of the Maine two-foot gauge railroads, while sheltering historic equipment of both our Railway and Maine Narrow Gauge.

Railroad Maintenance

Mike Fox photo.

A spring inspection of our railroad found two culverts in early need of repair.  Since our 2020 public trains are delayed, a one to two-man volunteer crew has been performing these repairs to keep our rail line open and avoid impacts to our eventual public train service.

Our Gift Shop

Stewart Rhine photo.

Just as pandemic restrictions hit, our gift shop team was finishing up renovations to our Sheepscot gift shop.  When it reopens, our shop will have a new cleaned and painted floor, a wider aisle and new displays.

While our Sheepscot gift shop is closed, our online gift shop is always open!  Purchase the newly printed Third Edition of Two Feet to Tidewater,  peruse our other sale items or make a donation to help us keep the lights on while we are closed.  Thanks!

“Virtual” Annual Meeting Set for May 2, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and stay-at-home order currently enacted within the State of Maine, the 31st Annual Meeting of the WW&F Railway Museum, as set for May 2, 2020 at 2pm, shall take place via electronic teleconference, rather than at the historic Alna Center Meetinghouse, as previously announced.

All official business of the Railway will be conducted at that time, including the election of officers. Votes by proxy (as already sent to all members of the organization) will be tallied during the meeting; members are highly encouraged to vote by proxy in advance of the meeting.

To join the Annual Meeting electronically, please use the following web link: http://meet.google.com/xst-qfra-cch

Or call: 413-338-0028
PIN: 506 194 966#

Additional detailed instructions, as well as agenda items and reports (once available), can be found at:
http://forum.wwfry.org/index.php/topic,3672.msg45775.html

Opportunity in Crisis – CLOSED until AUGUST 8, 2020

crisis = danger + opportunity

The Chinese characters for “crisis” consist of “danger” and “opportunity”. While somewhat optimistic, the truth is that in the midst of a dangerous crisis, opportunities can arise. The WW&F is seizing the current crisis to move forward as a stronger organization.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Museum has suspended public train rides, including special events, until a grand-reopening can occur on our “Annual Picnic”, August 8, 2020.

While this is disappointing, we thought it would be most beneficial to our volunteers, partners, and visitors to make this decision now so that plans can be made as the pandemic subsides and our lives return to normal.

This decision has an immediate effect on the following events and activities, some of which have been planned for several months:

  1. The Spring Work Weekend has been cancelled. It will be replaced with several additional work sessions to be held once “social distancing” restrictions have been lifted.
  2. The Annual Meeting will be held via teleconference. Interested members should visit our web site for details on how to participate.
  3. ALL public trains, special events, and private charters that were to take place before 8/8/2020 are cancelled. Some may be rescheduled, if possible. These include “Alna Day” (7/11) and two “Music on the Railway” concerts (6/27 and 7/25.) We will be contacting affected organizations, partners, and ticket holders in the coming weeks.

Those who received vouchers for free train rides in 2020 should be aware that these tickets are no longer redeemable until after August 8, 2020. Instead, we will honor them as best as we can during the remainder of the 2020 operating season.

Moreover, the operating schedule for Fall 2020 will not include scheduled train service on most Sundays. Instead, we are hoping that we can offer a full slate of train rides and special events, including concerts, presentations, festivals, pumpkin trains, Christmas Tree trains, and (of course, the ever-popular) Victorian Christmas. These details are still being developed and will be announced when finalized.

The opportunity here is that while the rails lay dormant, our volunteers are free to work (as appropriate) on the backlog of maintenance tasks that were scheduled for this Spring, but curtailed due to the pandemic. This also will allow (we hope) new faces to join our volunteer corps on scheduled work days (weekends and week days) through to our grand re-opening on 8/8/2020. Again, these dates and tasks will be announced as soon as they are developed (and social distancing rules are relaxed.)

The danger in this decision comes in the loss of ticket sales that was anticipated from April through July. We are mitigating this in a number of ways, including: federal assistance, a $10,000 loan from one of our anonymous members, and increased giving by those who are able to do so. We’ll be publishing more ways everyone can help out (including some that cost nothing) in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for your support of the WW&F. We will steam again. The narrow gauge will echo through the Sheepscot Valley once more. And the railroad of Big Dreams and Little Wheels will soldier on. Until then, be safe.

Our Museum is CLOSED until May 2nd; Spring Events Update Planned in mid-April

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our planned April 11th Easter Eggspress has been cancelled, as previously announced. Our Museum grounds, normally open for free to the public Saturdays year ’round, are now CLOSED to the public and are expected to remain closed until at least May 2nd.

During our Board of Directors meeting on April 11th, decisions will be made on the following spring events:

  • Spring Work Weekend April 24-26;
  • Our Annual Meeting May 2nd;
  • Start of scheduled Saturday public train service May 2nd;
  • Mother’s Day Tea May 9th; and
  • Start of scheduled Sunday public train service May 24th.

At this time, we anticipate most or all of these events will either be postponed or cancelled.

Further information can be found on our Facebook page.

Thanks for your understanding.

CANCELLED: Our 2020 Easter Eggspress

We wish to inform everyone that due to concerns over large group gatherings in relation to COVID-19, the WW&F is cancelling this year’s Easter Eggspress planned for April 11th. We are following Maine CDC’s recommendations in relation to the Coronavirus, out of an abundance of caution for our community. Thanks for your understanding.

A Reminder! Member, Family and Friends Activities During Spring Work Weekend April 24th – 27th!

UPDATE: IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS, THESE SPECIAL ACTIVITIES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED.

A reminder that the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, members John and Chris Kokas, and partners have lined up plans for several extra-curricula family activities during our Spring Work Weekend.  These events are open to everyone and do not require attendance at our Work Weekend or a stay at the Wiscasset Woods Lodge.

The deadlines for reservations are approaching March 27th and April 1st!  All Aboard!

Thanks to Saundra and Eric Neperud, owners of the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, and John and Chris Kokas, there will be several great opportunities for members, families and friends to experience Midcoast Maine during our Spring Work Weekend in late April.  A detailed itinerary , organized by the Wiscasset Woods Lodge, can be found on their website.

Activities planned by the Lodge include:

Friday, April 24th, 5 p.m.:  A Cooking Class with Chef Meghan—Homemade Ravioli.  Meghan Olcott, owner of Wiscasset’s Creamed Baking Company, will lead the class.  Cost $25 per person.  8 to 12 guests.  Reservations and deposits deadline April 1st.

Saturday, April 25th, 10 a.m.:  Midcoast Maine Wine Tour.  Visit five Midcoast Maine stops, including two wineries and a meadery during this day-long adventure, courtesy of Maine Winery Tours.  Cost $165 per person if 9 or less participate; otherwise $135 per person up to 12 people.  Reservations and deposits deadline March 27th.

Sunday, April 26th, 9.30 a.m.:  Walking Tour of Wiscasset and Castle Tucker.  2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the Maine’s statehood.  To commemorate, the day will start with a walking tour of downtown Wiscasset by the Red Cloak Lady, followed by a stop for warm drinks and pastries, and then a visit to historic Castle Tucker.  Sunday’s tour is designed to end in the early afternoon for folks who have travel plans to return home.  Cost $40 per person.  6 to 15 guests.  Reservations and deposits deadline April 10th.

Monday, April 27th, 10 a.m.:  Midcoast Maine Beer TourThe Maine Brew Bus will take participants to three breweries in Brunswick and West Bath, followed by a visit to Reid State Park (weather permitting).  Cost $150 per person if 10 to 23 participate; $115 per person if 24 participate.  Reservations and deposits deadline March 27th.

To reserve your space for these four events please call (207) 882-7137 or email Stay@Wiscassetwoods.com.

In addition to these weekend activities, the Wiscasset Woods Lodge is offering 10% off lodging for our Museum volunteers staying two nights or more during the Spring Work Weekend.  To get your discount simply type “WWF” into the promocode section just below where you choose the dates for your stay on the Lodge’s website, or call (207) 882-7137.

Our thanks to Saundra, Eric, Chris and John for organizing these great events!

Thank You, WCSH-TV News Center Maine’s 207 Team!

On February 21st, New Center Maine’s 207 visited us for a day on the Sheepscot Valley Narrow Gauge. We hope you had the opportunity to view their story this evening at 7 p.m. If not, Portland’s WCSH has posted the segment and background story on their website. For our international members and friends who might not be able to view the video directly on the 207 website, WCSH has also posted the video on YouTube.

The 207 story captured the spirit of our heritage Railway and why we do what we do. Thank you, WCSH!

Two Feet to Tidewater Third Edition!

Our Museum has just reprinted the book Two Feet to Tidewater, which tells the history of the Wiscasset & Quebec Railroad and the later Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway, written by Robert C. Jones and David L. Register.  Their definitive work was first published in 1987, two years before our Museum was formed.

Since then, our Museum reprinted their out-of-print book as a second edition in 2001, with a Museum history appendix written by then Museum president Larson Powell.  That, along with the first edition, have both been long out-of-print.

Our Museum has now published a third edition, which includes a second appendix written by James Patten, covering the history of our Museum in color from 2001 to 2018.  This 400+ page hardcover is now available through our online gift shop!

Season Passes Now Available for our 2020 Music on the Railway Concert Series!

The Wiscasset, Waterville, & Farmington Railway is excited to announce our 3rd Annual MUSIC ON THE RAILWAY concert series!  This year will feature four concerts Saturdays in late June through September on our grounds by Alna Center station.

Now through March 31st, you can purchase a season pass at the discounted price of four concerts for the price of three!  Tickets for individual concerts (on sale April 1st) will be $16.  Our season pass (on sale through March 31st) is $48!

Our 2020 Saturday concerts will feature:

June 20th: Rough Sawn
Back by popular demand, Rough Sawn (Facebook) is a local string band composed of farmers and carpenters–true salt of the earth people. They are renowned for their excellent covers of classic country, bluegrass, folk and Western swing as well as timeless originals. They’ve played local farmers markets, breweries, and other events. Their four-part harmonies are not something you’re going to want to miss. You can find Rough Sawn on Facebook.

July 25th: Pejepscot Station
Pejepscot Station (website, Facebook) is a high-energy bluegrass band comprised of veteran musicians hailing from the Midcoast Maine area, featuring Jim McLaughlin on mandolin, guitar and fiddle, Stephen “Satch” Hatch on guitar, Cherie “Peachblossom” Howard on bass, Russ Donahue on mandolin and guitar, and Ren Bernier on banjo. Vocals are shared by all. Based in the village of Pejepscot (in Topsham, ME), the band has been performing throughout southern Maine since forming in 2011. Their repertoire is a mix of traditional and contemporary bluegrass, Americana, and some “bluegrassified” favorites thrown in. Broad vocal harmonies and an informal and relaxed stage presence make for an enjoyable and fun show appropriate for all.

August 22nd: Fremont Street String Band
Fremont Street String Band (website, Facebook and Spotify) is a 5-piece Down East Maine bluegrass band. Formed in the storybook town of Machias, this band personifies the daring spirit and raw boldness of Maine’s rocky shores and the intriguing muses of Maine’s dense forests. They push the boundaries of musical convention, innovating and reinvigorating classic tunes, without sacrificing the heart and guts of America’s musical heritage. Their original songs are about Maine, love, life, and everything that matters. Engaging and energetic, this band breathes life into its audiences and leaves them feeling more alive and closer to their wild roots.

September 26th: OldHat Duo
OldHat (website and Facebook) is an acoustic string band based out of Eliot, Maine. Fusing tight vocal harmonies with a lively string band rhythm section, OldHat’s sound draws from bluegrass, old time, folk, and country traditions. The band is comprised of Whitney Roy (Guitar, Vocals) and Steve Roy (Mandolin, Fiddle, Vocals).  Whitney Roy’s lilting vocals provide the backbone of OldHat’s vocal blend, while her solid rhythm guitar anchors the bands rhythm section.  Steve Roy is one of New England’s premier multi-instrumentalists, and has performed and toured with many of the acoustic world’s top acts.

Our concert trains depart our Sheepscot station (97 Cross Road, Alna) at 4.30 p.m. sharp.  Please arrive early to ensure a relaxed experience.  Music at Alna Center under our pavilion is from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Train fare and parking at Sheepscot are included in the ticket price. Feel free to bring a blanket.  Information on food and beverage options will be available in the coming weeks.

Details on our 2020 Music on the Railway concert series can be found at http://wwfry.eventbrite.com.