Not long ago, two railroad museums in Maine, Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum and the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad, were engaged in a legal dispute concerning an agreement on the use of the Monson #3. While this may seem like a normal dispute between two rival railroad museums, it highlighted just how the Monson #3 is held in high esteem not just by the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum but also by rival railroad museums.
A Brief History of the Monson #3
The Monson #3 was built by the Vulcan Company in 1913 for the Monson Railroad Company to be used between the Monson Junction to Monson. Built with a wheel arrangement of 0-4-4T, this narrow-gauge steam locomotive may be small but was just as powerful as some of its larger counterparts. Monsoon #3 was damaged in a roundhouse fire in 1919. Fortunately, it was able to be repaired quickly and continued to serve on the railroad until the railroad was abandoned in 1943.
Monsoon #3 was never sent to the scrapper. Instead, it was turned into an excursion steam locomotive and originally served as a tourist locomotive in Carver, Massachusetts. It was only after the Carver Tourist Railroad was dissolved that the engine was bought by the Maine Narrow Gauge (MNG) Railroad Museum.
In its early years as an excursion steam locomotive, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum was kind enough to loan Monson #3 to the Wiscasset, Waterville, & Farmington Railway Museum for two weeks! This legendary steam locomotive was one of the major attractions at the museum’s annual picnic and attracted hundreds if not thousands of railroad enthusiasts.
In addition to WW&F, the MNG also loaned the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad. This arrangement led to the aforementioned lawsuit being filed in 2019. The lawsuit contended that MNG wrongfully terminated the use agreement and sought to recoup money that Sandy River invested in the reconditioning of Monson #3, while MNG argued that SR&RL had not properly maintained the locomotive which would give them right to terminate the agreement. A settlement was reached in early 2020 though details were not disclosed.
Today, Monsoon #3 remains one of the major attractions at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. It generally begins its excursion services during Memorial Day Weekend and runs through Labor Day, but can also grace other special railroad events. You can visit the museum’s website and plan on a visit and ride behind one of the most famous 2 ft. narrow gauge steam locomotives.