Work has begun to restore the railroad tracks on the former Union River railroad bridge, which crosses the river above Leonard Lake. Downeast Scenic Railroad President Tom Testa wrote in a post on the organization’s website that he hopes trains will be able to cross the bridge by late summer. PHOTO BY KATE COUGH

Rehabilitation of former Union River railroad bridge under way

ELLSWORTH — Ellsworth residents and visitors will soon be able to take in a view of the Union River from the former railroad bridge while sitting in a restored train car.

Work began this week to restore the bridge. Funds for its rehabilitation were raised by the Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust, the parent organization of the Downeast Scenic Railroad.

“We have been patiently waiting for the day when this work could be undertaken,” Downeast Scenic Railroad President Tom Testa wrote in a post on the organization’s website.

The work being done will include restoration of the bridge abutments and support tiers as well as the replacement of all timbers and installation of new cross ties on both the eastern and western approaches.

Lane Construction Corp. will conduct the concrete work and Maine Track Maintenance will perform the timber replacements and cross tie installation. The Maine Department of Transportation owns the tracks and will oversee the project.

Testa thanked donors in a post on the website.

“We are very grateful to all our paying passengers and generous donors who through their patronage have made this major capital improvement possible,” he wrote.

The organization also announced its receipt of a $10,000 grant that will be used to install a restroom and electrical system in an early 1900s combination coach and baggage car whose restoration has been a longstanding volunteer project.

The grant, titled the H. Albert Webb Memorial Railroad Preservation Award, is presented by the nonprofit Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts.

The trains will begin running on May 26. June marks 135 years since the completion of the Maine Shore Line Railroad, which at one time continued to McNeil Point on the Hancock Peninsula, where passengers could catch a steamer ferry across Frenchman Bay to Bar Harbor. Freight service on the Maine Central Line was discontinued in 1985.

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Digital Media Strategist
Kate is the paper's Digital Media Strategist, responsible for all things social, and the occasional story too! She's a former reporter for the paper and can be reached at: [email protected]
Kate Cough

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