Creating a Maine railroad landscape, 1890-1897: architecture of the Portland & Rumford Falls Railway and the Rumford Falls & Rangeley Lakes Railroad
Stevenson, Charles Ian
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In 1890, paper magnate Hugh Chisholm chartered the Portland & Rumford Falls Railway to provide service between Maine's largest city and the nascent industrial community of Rumford Falls. From 1890 to 1897, directors of that railroad embarked upon a cohesive building program to distinguish its stations from competitors and to attract traffic to Rumford Falls. This railroad's program represents a seminal moment in small town railroad station architecture because it was an early manifestation of a planned, replicated design. Civil engineer Frederic Danforth implemented the comprehensive landscape developed by architect Edwin Lewis. This pattern of architect-driven designs would be developed in the early twentieth century by railroad companies nationwide as they more aggressively created corporate branding, while also balancing community relations. In 1894, Chisholm and associates chartered a second rail line, the Rumford Falls & Rangeley Lakes Railroad, to service nearby timberlands and outdoor sporting locales. This line would further increase the prowess of Rumford Falls and the profitability of the Portland & Rumford Falls Railway. Lewis was not associated with this project, but its directors maintained a complementary architectural program almost indistinguishable from the earlier campaign. This thesis examines the initial development of the two rail lines based on photographs, architectural drawings, and documentary research. It explores how these building programs fit into the greater schema of corporate railroad architectural development. It elucidates the national trends toward an interconnected industrial landscape and early attempts at corporate branding through vernacular architecture.