Bangor and Aroostook Railroad

Bangor and Aroostook Railroad

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Bangor and Aroostook Railroad
successor_line=Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway
hq_city=Bangor, Maine

thumb|300px|Routes of the Bangor&Aroostook Railroad "magenta" = Route in service (2006) "red" = Abandoned routeThe Bangor and Aroostook Railroad reporting mark|BAR is a defunct United States railroad company, that brought rail service to Aroostook County, Maine. Brightly painted BAR box cars attracted national attention in the 1950s. First-generation diesel locomotives operated on BAR until they were museum pieces.


The company was incorporated in 1891 to combine the lines of the former Bangor and Piscataquis Railroad and the Bangor and Katahdin Iron Works Railway. It was based in Bangor and lines extended from there to Oakfield and Houlton in 1894. The line was extended from Houlton to Fort Fairfield and Caribou in 1895. A parallel branch line was extended from Oakfield to Ashland in 1896. A branch was built from Caribou to Limestone in 1897, and the main line extended from Caribou to Van Buren in 1899. The Ashland Branch was extended to Fort Kent in 1902. A southern extension was completed in 1905 through Northern Maine Junction to Searsport on Penobscot Bay. The Medford Cutoff from Packard to South Lagrange was completed in 1907; and a branch was built from Millinocket to a new paper mill in East Millinockett. Rails were extended up the St. John River from Van Buren through Madawaska and Fort Kent to St. Francis in 1910; and Mapleton was connected to Stockholm and Presque Isle on the main line, and to Squapan on the Ashland branch. An international bridge was constructed over the St. John River at Van Buren in 1915 to connect with the Canadian National Railway.

BAR began hauling potatoes in heated box cars in 1895. Potatoes provided a stable income source through the great depression, and provided 50% of the railroad's revenue following World War II. BAR had the 2nd largest United States railroad-owned reefer fleet (after Santa Fe) during the 1950s. BAR made an arrangement with Pacific Fruit Express (AAR reporting marks PFE) whereby PFE reefers shipped Maine potatoes during winter months and BAR reefers carried California produce during the summer and autumn. Potatoes started moving by truck following completion of the Interstate Highway System into northern Maine in the 1960s.

Inbound chemicals and outbound paper from mills on the Penobscot River at Millinocket and East Millinocket were major revenue sources for the BAR from 1900. Another paper mill was built in Madawaska in 1925. Pulpwood and wood chips to the paper mills became increasingly important as potato loadings declined. The remote port facilities at Searsport were a preferred loading point for ammunition during World War II; and BAR transported heating coal and aircraft fuel to Loring AFB for Strategic Air Command bombers through the Cold War. BAR painted 2,500 box cars in the red, white and blue colors of the US flag during the 1950s. A less expensive oxide red paint scheme with large white reporting marks was adopted during the Vietnam War.

The line from Brownville Junction to Katahdin Iron Works was abandoned in 1922, but the rails remained in place until 1933. BAR passenger train service ended in 1961. The Greenville branch was dismantled from 1962 to 1964. Several Aroostook County segments were abandoned when potato traffic disappeared in the 1970s. In 1995, the BAR was acquired by Iron Road Railways. In 2002, the company was declared bankrupt, and in 2003 its lines were sold to Rail World, Inc., which incorporated them into the newly-formed Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.

Steam Locomotives

= Diesel Locomotives =

External links

* [ Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway] "official web site"
* [ History of Railroading in Maine] "Maine Dept. of Transportation"
* [ Bangor & Aroostook photos]



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