The Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail covers the portion of the historic Kennebec Central Railroad roadbed which lies within the town of Randolph. The town owns the right-of way on this portion of the roadbed and the Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail Committee is working to upgrade the existing trail to a hiking/biking trail.
Currently the trail covers 1.25 total miles beginning next to Goggins IGA on Water Street and continues up a ravine for 0.4 miles before crossing Windsor Street. It continues on from there in the woods for one mile. It is in good condition for walking the entire length, although there are two shallow brook crossings that you have to be careful on or you'll get wet (step on stones). You can bicycle along the trail also, although after a heavy rain some spots can be a little muddy.
The trail begins next to Goggins IGA on Water Street - a large sign signals the beginning of the trail. Continue around the small pond and follow the trail. The meandering stream that you walk along side is Little Togus Stream. After walking almost a half mile, you will need to cross over Windsor Street and the trail continues on the other side at the crosswalk. Continue to follow the trail for about one mile - traversing the small stream, passing a small pond along the way. The end of the trail is not currently marked. It is hoped that this trail can be linked to the Gardiner terminus of the Kennebec River Rail Trail by means of directional signs.
History of the Trail: In 1985, local Eagle Scouts established the trail with help from the Town of Randolph and the Department of Conservation Summer Youth Corps Project. It was given the official name "The Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail". Unfortunately, the trail was not maintained and over the years grew over and washed out in places. In the summer of 2003, a commitee was formed to improve, upgrade and establish more of a permanency to the trail.
History of the Kennebec Central Railroad: The Kennebec Central Railroad existed for one purpose: to transport passengers and goods to and from the National Veterans Home at Togus, Maine—now the Togus Veterans Administration Medical Center—the first VA Hospital in the country. The railroad served the Veterans Home from 1890 to 1929.
The railroad ran from the Randolph terminus by the Kennebec River through Chelsea to Togus, a total distance of five miles. One and a quarter miles of this lay within the town of Randolph, and the right-of-way on this section is now owned by the Town. Passengers walked across the bridge from Gardiner to take the train to Togus. Veterans used the train for visits to Gardiner, and townspeople took the twenty-minute ride to utilize the facilities and grounds at the Veterans Home.
Coal for heating the Veterans Home and other supplies were carried by the railroad. Passenger traffic on the Kennebec Central Railroad started to decline when an electric railway from Augusta to Togus started in 1901. However a government contract provided that all the coal for the Soldiers’ Home was to be brought by barge from East Coast ports upriver to Randolph and then transported on the railroad to Togus and this prolonged the life of the railroad. Passenger traffic steadily diminished with the advent of the automobile and the coal contract was terminated in the Spring of 1929. The last train ran on June 29, 1929.
If you are interested in commemorating the history of the railroad please contact the Friends of the Kennebec Railroad David Hart at (207) 737-2798. The photographs and history are taken from the book “ Two Feet to Togus” by Robert C. Jones. Published by Evergreen Press 1999. Used with the kind permission of the author.
Visit the Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail online for more information or contact:Friends of the Old Narrow Gauge Trail
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