A Day Out in the Geep

This evening, with it drizzling outside, I decided to take a trip in the Geep and spend an hour or so in the sun. The reality, of course, is that I suspended reality by firing up Railworks on my computer 🙂 There are many scenarios and routes available to me and on this occasion I decided to drive a local trip freight from Yarmouth in Canada through to Rigby Yard just south of Portland, ME. This is no high speed run but rather a pleasant amble between shunting tasks. The motive power provided is a pair of Canadian National GP9 diesels – hence the reference to Geep’s.

The scenario starts at Deering where a pair of cement wagons have to be collected and replaced with empties. From there, we head south to cross Back Cove on a Trestle Bridge with a swinging section in the centre…
Crossing Back Cove
…This is where it becomes apparent that the route as depicted is, in the words of its author, “a ‘What if’ prototypical route”. The bridge across Back Cove was seriously damaged by fire in 1984 and the swing section has remained stuck in its open position ever since. Currently there are moves to turn it into a trail – something which a growing pro-rail lobby is fighting in the hope that in future the rail connection will be restored. See this article in the Portland Press Herald for details.

Arriving at Northside on the outskirts of Portland there is a little shunting to be done with a Reefer and a couple of box cars to be collected…
Shunting at North Side
…However, this is an illusion of reality as the standard gauge tracks were lifted after the closure of the Back Cove Bridge and the railway visible on Google Earth is now the Maine Narrow Guage Railway – a museum line.

And then it’s time to drive the train into town. In doing so we pass the site of the old India Street terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway which closed and was demolished in 1966. It’s interesting to note that Portland once had 4 stations but for most of its history was served by India Street and Union Station – the latter being located on St. John Street on the west side of the city. It was the busier of the two with regular passenger services to Boston and Maine but closed in 1961. India Street saw only two passenger services a day, to Montreal. There was no passenger service between the two and freight transfers including deliveries to and from the docks were handled by the Portland Terminal Company (PTM) which had its own locomotives. The wharfs and yards were served by a track which ran along Commercial Street. On Wikipedia there is a photograph of PTM 1003, an ALCO HH600, standing on Commercial Street. Although this track has been lifted it is still possible to trace its route on Google Earth and to catch tantalising glimpses of where tracks branched off to serve individual wharfs. But in our “what if”, the track is still there…
Along Commercial Street
…Travelling along a public road requires that the train travel at a maximum speed of 10mph and that the bell is rung continuously – I wonder how many of the locals will be left muttering ‘Les Cloches; les Cloches’ after we pass through 😉

Some of the wharfs in our scenario retain rail access and our next job is to reverse onto Union Wharf to collect a solitary box car…
Reversing onto Union Wharf
…a slow and careful process as you can’t see the wagon through the buildings. The ladies seem more interested in their map than the train behind them.

Departing Union Wharf we head along Commercial Street and pass under the Casco Bay Bridge. Beyond the bridge the track leaves the road and we stop to collect a couple of tankers from Casco Bay LPG sidings…
Collecting LPG
…Here, we have rejoined the real world, for this LPG terminus exists and is served by rail. With the tankers added to the consist, we climb gently to join with the Boston and Maine tracks in a triangular junction on the east side of the Fore River before crossing on another trestle bridge…
Crossing Fore River
…beside the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

From here it is a brief run southwest to Rigby Yard where the consist of assorted wagons will be left in one of over 40 parallel sidings and our Geep and its companion will head for refreshments at the refuelling depot…
Days Work Done
…marking the end of the day’s work. As you look at 4123 resting between the Maine Central and Guilford GP40’s you will see behind a large engine shed and also a turntable – they were demolished in 2010 and so have joined the history to be discovered along this Railworks route.

And as for the Geep’s? There are approximately 50 or so still in service or preserved, but none belonging to Canadian National. And Canadian National no longer operates the route from Yarmouth to Deering, where we started our journey – it is now operated as a short-line, the St. Lawrence & Atlantic (SLA).

The industrial history of the area we have passed through is fascinating and I have barely scratched the surface with this report on a simulated freight run. I leave you with a set of slides from Portland’s past – hopefully it will whet your appetite to learn more 🙂

The Portland Terminal route for Railworks was created by G-TraX Simulations and is available via Steam (you must already have Railworks installed on your pc). This particular scenario, called Canadian National Local, was created by Elphaba and is available for Portland Terminal owners via the Steam Workshop



  1. how fascinating martin, thanks for the trip in the Geep!

  2. Your vicarious travel was very satisfying! I can see how it could keep you hooked for hours! Come by and see me in California. I can hear the trains from my house!:-)

    • Thanks for the invite Debra – If I ever get to visit California I shall certainly say Hello 🙂

      Train Simulations, unlike car sims, are all about control rather than reactions. It gives you time to look at your surroundings and the inclination to learn something about them. Apart from a couple of truly ficticious routes, the majority of the lines in Railworks exist or did at one time.

      There is one Californian Route now available for Railworks – Donner Pass, which takes you through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Must treat myself to that one soon 🙂

  3. What an adventure! I hope to ride a train with my family soon. We’re thinking Summer in London this year with my wife’s relatives. Can’t wait.

    • If you do come to London I hope you have a great time. There are lots of trains to ride in London, Overground and Underground – I’m sure your Son will find it exciting 🙂

  4. Hahaha… I must be running a bit low on sleep… at first glance I found myself wondering when The Canadian National Railway had built a line across the Atlantic! 😉

  5. That was fascinating! Especially as we know Portland, and that area (having friends up there) and it was so interesting to see the interplay between reality and fantasy.
    You come up with the most amazing things!

    • Hi Judith – I thought one of my readers had mentioned Portland in the past! I’m glad you enjoyed the trip through the city 🙂 I really enjoyed learning so much about the area through the game. I’m actually contemplating building a small model railroad now – though that will be a long term project!

  6. from Yarmouth in Canada through
    to Rigby Yard just
    south of Portland, ME:
    I like the RED of the train
    cutting through blue …

  7. What a fabulous way to spend a drizzly London evening! Love the all the brilliant colour of the Geeps. Am sure you will enjoy your adventures with the Donner Pass and hope you get to enjoy the real thing one day soon, it’s amazing!

  8. At the moment I’d be pleased just to get a run up the Settle and Carlisle Patti! Donner pass is on my to-buy list though whether I’ll ever cross the pond to sample it for real is open to debate.

    I was pleased to see that there are some pressure gruops in the states pushing for greater use of the rail network. That has to be a good thing 🙂


  1. […] Portland area of Maine as driven in my A Day Out in the Geep post suggested a good starting point with its connections northwards to the Canadian border. So I […]

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