The BAR "Serving Northern Maine" shield; white lettering and
border on a blue shield

The 1969 Selkirk potato disaster converted the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad from a healthy railroad into a sickly line that depended on the logging/pulpwood industry to survive, and the struggle got worse as industry consolidation pruned many of the facilities that the BAR served.

By 1985, the BAR was on a clear path to liquidation, but the PV&T thought that it might be possible to get the potato farms back to the rails and began negotiating a takeover of the struggling railroad.

It took a while (4 years) for the negotiations to finish, but in 1989 the PV&T purchased the BAR as a subsidiary, then spun off a potato distributor to buy entire potato harvests and carry the possible liability of Conrail (or any of the other local class 1s) going Selkirk 2 and destroying another crop.

It look a few years for the regulators to sue over monopolistic practices, but in that time many of the remaining railroad-accessable potato warehouses had switched over to the Bangor & Aroostook Potato Forwarding Company™ for their shipping needs and stayed with it when the PV&T divested themselves of this legal hot potato.

In 1993, the BAR’s line from Houlton to Easton Junction was reactivated as a potato harvest branch (as the “Pomme De Terre Railway” – a paper railroad that owns nothing but the ROW) which only sees service during the potato harvest, while the existing mainline was electrified from Bangor (the southern junction with the B&Q) up to Brownsville Junction for interchange with Canadian Pacific’s Canadian Atlantic Railway.

The BAR has always been an EMD stronghold, only backing away when after Progress Rail blew up GMD’s London, Ontario plant in a dispute over labor conditions, so the Derby Shops became the maintenance center and boneyard for all of the EMD diesels on the system (some of which were sent to Portland & Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu for adaptive reuse; how about an Alco 251F-8 in a BL2 just as an example?) and radiating hostility whenever Alcos were assigned to the railroad. (Blowing up GMD-London softened the Derby shopcrews resistance to non-EMD power, and an steady stream of new ILW locomotives are finding their way onto the railroad these days as old DL17s are retired)

As of 2023, the BAR’s roster consists of:

unit class type builder HP notes
631 DL20 GP7 EMD 1500 formerly bicentennial engine “Jeremiah O'Brien”
633 DL22a BL238 EMD 1500 re-re-engined (first with a 251B-12 in 1995, then a QSK38 in 2017)
653 FF3 B+B+B+B+B cab Portland 12500 carbodies from BAR F3A’s #40 & #45; only motor on the BAR’s roster
808-819 DL17 GP38 EMD 2000 originally GM&O 700s
820-822 DL26 SD40 EMD 3000 originally PC 6275,6279,6281
1104-1105 DL36 SD70M-2 EMD 4000
1200-1207 DL34 eco-644 ILW 4400
1211 DL35 “RS-38” ILW 3300 remanufactured from DL17s
1270-1278 DL35 “RS-38” ILW 3300
1301-1304 DL36A SD70 EMD 4000
1334,1335 DL41 SD40W-2 EMD 3000 Paducah rebuild w/ F45-style cab & nose
1336-1338 DL42 SD35 EMD 2500
1378-1379 DL41 SD40W-2 EMD 3000
1491 DL47 “SD950” EMD 2130 ILW demonstrator
  • Copyright © 2023 by David Parsons ( unless otherwise noted
    Wed Feb 08 11:31:39 PST 2023