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A few months ago, Diana Prizio, the organizer of Thorndike’s rail biking under the Belfast and Moosehead Rail Co., contacted me about leading rail biking trips in Thorndike. Unfortunately, because of my age, I was unable to work for the railroad formally, but my older brother did take up the job, leading trips up to three trips a day twice a week.

On Friday, June 23, my brother was occupied with other work, so my mother and I filled in for him. The tracks that go through Thorndike rarely see trains these days and are instead occupied only by the occasional maintenance vehicle and the rail bikes.

The rail bikes are themselves square carts with wheels fitted to the rails of the train track, and geared to pedals mounted on the cart. Also on the cart is a platform containing two adjustable seats for the riders.

Before we arrived at the starting point, my mother and I attached a derailer (a device that would derail any oncoming trains) to the tracks at the end of the section we would be biking that day. We then drove to the tarting point, and after securing the derailer there as well, moved the rail bikes onto the tracks.

This is quite a laborious task, typically requiring two people to execute, though my brother somehow manages it alone. Once the carts were ready, we set out on our first run accompanied by our first clients, an older couple from Massachusetts. We biked for two miles, much of it on a slight uphill grade, until we reached the derailer, at which point we turned the bikes around for the far easier journey back to the start.

Our next guests were another couple, this time from Maine. We traversed the same route once more, whilst talking with the couple. In conversation, the husband told me about Elijah McCoy, a man who I had heard of many years before, but ultimately forgot.

He informed me that McCoy, a Canadian-born engineer, had worked for a railroad and realized the inefficiency of manually oiling the parts of a train. He subsequently invented a self oiling system, which revolutionized the industry. He also produced other inventions such as the ironing board. His legacy lives on today in the phrase “the real McCoy.”

Our final group was two mothers and their sons from Dover Foxcroft, an energetic and enduring bunch. We learned in the course of the ride that the boys had a YouTube channel, called maineadventureboys (written with no capitals or spaces for anyone who’s interested in finding it).

After the last trip ended, we walked to the nearby Farwell Museum Store, a mix of a functioning store and museum dedicated to the original general store, started by Oscar Farwell in 1872. The store sold “everything needed for human and livestock needs” for 90 years before closing in 1962.

In 2015 the Farwell Project, a nonprofit, renovated the store, retaining much of its original image. I highly recommend rail biking as well as the Farwell Museum to anyone interested in railroad or local history. For more information on the Farwell Mill and project, as well as the Railcycles, and much more, go to their website: thorndikemill.org

Notices

The Montville Select Board is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall to discuss the Interlocal Agreement between certain Waldo County towns (Montville, Liberty, Freedom, Palermo and Searsmont) to potentially create a Broadband Utility District. The SWCBC is requesting $11,000 of the American Rescue Plan Act Funds for this purpose.

The Montville Fire Department would like to thank the people of Montville for their generosity in can drives and donations. By supporting the Fire Department, you help keep your community safe, and the town of Montville has done that incredibly well.

Liberty will be having a meeting on broadband at the Liberty Community Hall Thursday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m.