Transportation & Land Use
The Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad was chartered in 1867 to connect the Port of Portland with the Great Lakes via the port of Ogdensburg in New York, a distance of over 400 miles. Known as the Mountain Division, the first train ran on August 16, 1875. Although a main line running 200 miles was eventually completed, the vision was never fully realized, as Ogdensburg never became a major port, and the line never operated under a single carrier. The last passenger train ran in 1959, and the last freight train, in 1983.
Over a decade ago, 22 organizations, including GPCOG, came together to form the Mountain Division Alliance, “a coalition dedicated to restoring rail service and enhancing the line with a recreational trail.” A new vision was born. The Maine Department of Transportation now owns a continuous 45-mile section of the Mountain Division from Westbrook to Fryeburg.
The rail line will re-establish a historic link between Portland and the Mount Washington Valley. The rail line can move such commodities as gravel, propane, and wood pellets from Maine businesses to the national rail system and barge service via the Port of Portland. Visitors arriving on cruise ship can take a scenic tour of the Saco River Valley by train. Residents and visitors can ride the train to hike in the White Mountains, attend the Fryeburg Fair, canoe the Saco River, and bicycle or cross country ski on the trail back to the metro area. The trail can provide residents with opportunities for bicycling, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and horseback riding.
With staff support from GPCOG and SMRPC, the towns of Standish, Baldwin, Hiram, Brownfield, and Fryeburg began meeting in 2004 as the Route 113 Corridor Committee to discuss ways to improve the economy of the upper Saco River Valley. The resultant economic development strategy calls for the Committee to “champion the restoration of rail service on the Mountain Division line” and to seek resources to “construct the Mountain Division trail in a manner compatible with freight and regularly scheduled passenger rail service.” Read more about the Route 113 Corridor Committee here:
The Maine Department of Transportation has recently applied for a Stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to reconstruct the Mountain Division rail to a Class II standard that will support freight and excursion use. Efforts to construct the trail continue on a town-by-town basis. The completed section from South Windham to Sebago Lake Village in Standish has recently been paved. Engineering is being finalized to complete the Brownfield to Fryeburg section.
Funding partners for the Route 113 Corridor Committee include the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and towns and business associations.
Caroline Paras , Economic and Community Planner
Planning Studies and Documents
- Moving Goods and People: Governor’s Rail and Port Investment Plan To Transform Transportation in Maine (2009) by the Maine Department of Transportation
- Mountain Division Rail Study: Report on Potential Uses and Implementation Costs (2007) by HNTB Corporation for the Maine Department of Transportation
- Mountain Division Feasibility Study Phase I Report (1999) by the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Greater Portland Council of Governments, and Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission for the Maine Department of Transportation
- Mountain Division Stated Preference Survey (1999) by the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Greater Portland Council of Governments, National Park Service, Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Committee, Portland Trails, and Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission for the Maine Department of Transportation
- Mountain Division Multi-Use Trail (2004) by Summit Engineering for the Maine Department of Transportation
- Economic Opportunities along the Pequawket Trail (2008) by the Route 113 Corridor Committee for the Towns of Standish, Baldwin, Hiram, Brownfield, and Fryeburg
- Land Use
- Maine Clean Communities
- Mountain Division
- Regional Corridor Coalitions
- Railroad Outreach
- Small Starts
- Transit Guide
- Transit Planning
Transportation & Land Use