PVRT heavyweight interurban car E300 after the 2012 restoration to the PVRT's postwar paint scheme

For a brief moment at the start of the 1900s, it seemed believable that the town of Parsons Vale (population 1030) was poised on the brink of greatness. After all, the PV&T had connected the town to Portland and Montréal, and the Ace & Acme Lumber Company had just been purchased by the Lincoln & Concord Railway as part of its plan to connect Parsons Vale and the rich lumberlands at the foot of the White Mountains to its Lincoln to Concord mainline. With these signs of greatness, a proposal to connect Parsons Vale to Concord by a direct interurban railway seemed like a sure bet. So, in 1909, the Parsons Vale Rapid Transit Company was formed to build an electric interurban railroad from Parsons Vale to Concord. Construction started soon thereafter, and the line was completed in 1911 (with, in 1913, an immensely profitable branch from Winnisquam to Laconia.)

As all of the other railroads into Parsons Vale discovered, there was no gold to be made in passengers. But, unlike the unfortunate L&C, the PVRT survived by promoting holidaymaker service and online businesses on the Laconia branch, and also inking through traffic agreements with the PV&T (the only reason the line up to Parsons Vale wasn’t abandoned during the Great Depression years), and settled into a comfortably profitable life.

When the LW&C was abandoned in 1936, the PRVT picked up three steeplecab locomotives, but otherwise didn’t change its initial locomotive roster until 1947, when it dealt with the damages caused by second world war traffic by converting the Parsons Vale to Concord mainline from 600VDC to 3000VDC. After this conversion, all PV&T bridge traffic was carried behind PV&T locomotives, while local traffic was carried behind engines 1018 and 980, which had been converted to 3000VDC. (The Laconia branch The Laconia branch was left at 600VDC, and engine 1040 was used to switch this branch until it was abandoned in 1961.)

After the war, local traffic was never extraordinarily healthy, and it eventually fell off to the point where, in 1955, only 1018 and 1040 were needed (980 was kept in reserve, but never saw service on the PVRT again.) In 1964, 1018 was destroyed when the Winnisquam bridge collapsed under a gravel train, which killed the Laconia branch (and the last of the 600VDC overhead.)

With the loss of the Laconia branch (the majority of the surviving shippers were on the south side of Paugus Bay, and they all switched to using trucks when service on the branch abruptly stopped) the railroad was down to 5 small shippers on the old Concord<->Parsons Vale mainline. This meant that the railroad was surviving exclusively on charging the PVRT for access to the line, and that was not enough to pay for 10 remaing employees (1 3-person operating crew, 1 person holding running the railroad, a lawyer (on retainer), and 5 people in the track gang) and dividends to the stockholders. And this meant that when the PV&T proposed leasing the line outright it was almost embarrassing how quickly management said YES to that offer.

The corporate shell of the PVRT still exists, primarily to divvy up the lease payments from the PV&T, but also as a way to keep the surviving Baldwin-Westinghouse steeplecab on the roster.

PVRT history

First Parsons Vale Rapid Transit train from Concord.
Laconia branch (Winnisquam to Laconia) opens.
Engines 1040,1018,980 purchased from the PV&T.
  • Parsons Vale to Concord reelectrified at 3000VDC.
  • PV&T starts running trains from Boston to Montréal via the PVRT.
Last passenger train (combination #300, passenger #999).
  • Winnisquam bridge collapses, destroying 1018.
  • Last shippers on the Laconia branch switch to trucks.
  • Laconia branch abandoned.
  • Leased to PV&T for 999 years.

All-time PVRT Roster

No. Type Builder Acquired/Built Disposition
1-7 Passenger motor St Louis Car 1910 retired 1947
8 Baggage motor St Louis Car 1910 stored 1938, reactivated 1942, retired 1948
9 Combination motor St Louis Car 1910 renumbered to 300 & converted to 3000VDC 1947, to work motor 1955, stored 1966
10-12 Boxcab Baldwin 1910 retired 1947
13 Rotary snowplow AC&F 1910 to PV&T M1006
14 caboose Montreal Carriage 1910 wrecked 1964
15 caboose Montreal Carriage 1910 to PV&T 157C 1967, retired 1990
999 Passenger motor Brill 1924 stored 1955, to Connecticut Trolley Museum 1966
1040 Steeplecab Baldwin 1937 originally LW&C 40, converted to 3000VDC 1950, to Seashore Trolley Museum 1961
1018 Steeplecab Baldwin 1937 originally LW&C 41, wrecked 1964
980 Steeplecab Baldwin 1937 originally LW&C 42, converted to 3000VDC 1947, to PV&T 282, in service.
633 Boxcab American Car 1936 from Albany-Hudson Fast Line 30, stored 1948, to IRM 1977
  • Copyright © 2023 by David Parsons (orc@pell.portland.or.us) unless otherwise noted
    Wed Jun 24 00:58:15 PDT 2009