Railroading in New England has always had a special appeal for a great number of modelers and railfans. The mind visualizes images of picturesque villages filled with quaint and ornate architecture, endless rolling hills covered with trees, and can you find a greater regional proliferation of Alcos anywhere in the country? The Schenectady products fit so well into the northeast environment they have become an essential component of the local scenery.
One of the more popular New England rail lines is the Maine Central, which operates about 800 miles of trackage in three states. Most of the railroad lies, appropriately enough, in the state of Maine, where the railroad began its life.
MC was first organized as such in 1862, the result of a consolidation of several small Maine railroads. At that time, it was broad gauge (5'-6"). Through other absorptions and leases the railroad attained its modern configuration: lines from Portland northeast to the Canadian border and a line from Portland northwest, across New Hampshire and into Vermont at St. Johnsbury. This latter line is perhaps the MC's most characteristic, especially since it runs through scenic Crawford Notch in New Hampshire. The Notch, in the White Mountains, is MC's quintessential landmark.
From 1933 to 1955, Maine Central and the Boston & Maine were partners in a cooperative operating agreement. During this period, MC's cars and motive power carried B&M-influenced maroon colors. When the line again became completely independent, the pine-tree-green motif was adopted.
In 1981, MC was purchased by the Guilford Transportation group. This resulted in only a semi-homogenized railroad, which fortunately still retains much of its earlier charm. The Maine Central locomotive roster was not particularly unusual, but the line did own diesels from each of the three major builders. This included, of course, several obligatory New England Alcos.