The Aroostook Valley Railroad opened in 1910, eventually connecting 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. 70, along with No. 71 which is also at Seashore, formed the backbone of the AVRR’s passenger fleet. Wason built Nos. 70 and 71 in 1912. The cars have two compartments, one for passengers and one for baggage and express. As a combination of a coach and an express car, these are called combines. The cars were painted the Canadian Pacific’s maroon color with gold leaf striping. Nos. 70 and 71 were not fast but provided a smooth ride over the relatively lightly built tracks. No. 70 made the last passenger run over the AVRR on August 7, 1946. When passenger service ended in 1946, the AVRR was the last electric interurban passenger carrier in New England.
Seashore purchased Cars 70 and 71, along with AVRR box motor #52, 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 done extensive renovation on No. 70 during the period since 1946. Car 70 is complete and operational. Nos. 70 and 71 ran on 1200 volts and operate at half speed on Seashore’s 600 volt power. No. 70 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (See also: NEERHS 1999 Annual Report, p. 15; “Aroostook Valley Railroad #70, Maine Collection Survey” on museum web site.)
Brakes: Straight Air
Manufacturer: General Electric
Weight and Dimensions
Length: 55’ 6.00"
Width: 8’ 9.00"
Height: 12’ 8.00"
Russel Monroe in Oct. 1963 of sister car 71
Builders photo on 11/19/1912 of sister car 71
O R Cummings Collection in 1940 at Presque Isle Depot
O R Cummings Collection in 1945 at Aroostook River Bridge