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The C&DR name

By Bob Hayden, 29 Dec 1998

Incidentally, I have always loved the name “Carrabasset and Dead River” for a railroad–I don’t think there is a free-lanced RR with a better name.
I know the former is indeed a town in Maine along the SR&RL, and I assume that the Dead River exists down east somewhere. It might be fun to hear the story of how you decided on the name sometime on the Mailcar.
Ed Loechler

Dear Ed,

I’ll reply to this one via the Mail Car, as you suggested.

Both namesake towns of the C&DR were stations on the Sandy River & Ranglely Lakes. Carrabasset was (and is) north of Kingfield, on the 9-mile extension of the Franklin & Megantic built in 1894 and named the Kingfield & Dead River. The K&DR never owned a locomotive, and I’ve never seen a picture of a car lettered for it, but by 1900 it extended to Bigelow, 15.5 miles north of Kingfield. It opened up a whole lot of new timberland for the F&M to serve, including a big bandsaw mill at Bigelow. Most of the K&DR line ran next to the Carrabasset River.

If you’ve ever been to the Sugarloaf Ski area in Maine, you’ve been to Bigelow. If you’ve stayed at the Red Lion Inn near Sugarloaf (I have) you’ve slept in Carrabasset.

Dead River was on the Phillips & Rangeley, the second-last station stop before the end of the line at Rangeley. There was a neat frame depot there which may have housed an agent back in the P&R’s glory days, but I’ve only seen a few photos of it and I don’t think there was much nearby.

Back 100 years ago the SRRR, F&M, and P&R made noises about extending their lines to Stratton and Flagstaff, settlements which were served only by stages and wagons. One scheme had the P&R’s eastward-reaching Eustis Railroad linking up with the north- and westward-reaching K&DR. This would have made a grand 2-foot-gauge circle in Franklin County, greatly shortening the railroad mileage between — are you ready for this? — Carrabasset and Dead River.

I settled on the name during a long, dreary Navy duty night at Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco in 1972, which means it’s been around for almost 27 years. That’s better by a long shot than the K&DR, which was formed in 1893 and folded into the SR&RL in January 1908. So far it’s been used on three layouts, and in a couple of years I hope to be operating the fourth.

Enough said, and Happy New Year to one and all from the C&DR!

Sincerely yours, Bob Hayden

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