The Aroostook Valley Railroad opened in 1910, eventually linking two Maine cities, Presque Isle and Caribou, and two nearby towns Washburn and New Sweden. The AVRR connected with the Canadian Pacific Railway and provided competition to Bangor and Aroostook Railroad. The line carried many more potatoes than passengers, and barely qualified as a street railway under Maine law. The BAR had reached Presque Isle in 1894. To encourage BAR’s construction, the state had granted the BAR a 30-year railroad monopoly. To protect its monopoly, the BAR sued to stop construction of the AVRR, but as a “street railway,” the AVRR was able to proceed. The CP acquired control of the AVRR in 1931. Despite serving an area with little population, the Aroostook Valley survived as an electric operation until 1946, and as a diesel switching line until almost 2000. No. 52, built by J.G. Brill in 1909, was designed as a combination freight locomotive, express car and snow plow. No. 52 is sometimes termed a “box motor.” It resembles a steam railroad baggage car in many details. With limited funds, the AVRR was able to acquire a vehicle with multiple functions. No. 52 was painted in AVRR’s passenger livery of maroon, with a grey roof. No. 52 was the AVRR’s only freight motive power until 1911 when the railroad purchased a steeple-cab electric locomotive. Thereafter, the AVRR used No. 52 mainly to carry less-than-carload freight and express. In later years, the AVRR used No. 52 for wire maintenance and snow plowing. It was active until the last day of electric operations in August 1946. When passenger service ended in 1946, the AVRR was the last electric interurban passenger carrier in New England.
Seashore purchased AVRR No. 52, along with AVRR combine cars 70 and 71, for $350 when AVRR passenger service and electric operation quit in 1946. This was Seashore’s first post-war acquisition. The three vehicles moved by freight train over the CP, Maine Central and Boston & Maine. They were stored at the Boston and Maine’s Billerica Shops until Seashore was able to accommodate them. Sources show the move to Kennebunkport was sometime between 1955 and 1959. Seashore has not done restoration work on No. 52 in recent years. No. 52 ran on 1200 volts and would operate at half power on Seashore’s 600 volt power. No. 52 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (See also: “Aroostook Valley Railroad #52, Maine Collection –Vehicle History” on the museum web site.)