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Boston & Maine 3666

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Steam - Boston & Maine No. 3666 (B M Walker)

Boston & Maine Railroad #3666 4-6-2 Pacific class locomotive spent most of its life pulling intercity and commuter passenger trains out of Boston to points north, to such places as Concord, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine. On one particular night on September 10, 1939, the #3666 with train #2024, a Portland to Boston passenger run, was making its way over the Portsmouth Bridge which crosses the very turbulent Piscataqua River. This bridge had been previously damaged when a freighter hit it several years earlier. Even though there was a 3 mph speed limit on the bridge, the locomotive, tender and the first empty passenger coach fell into the River. The remaining coaches were disconnected from the falling coach causing a break with the air line causing the brakes to automatically be applied. There were twelve passengers and a five man crew on board, but they were, thankfully, on the other coaches and some of the passengers didn’t even know what happened until they were taken away from the scene by hand carry. Unfortunately, the fireman, Charles Towle and the engineer John Beattie drowned. The accident was not because of issues related to that freighter hitting the bridge, but was determined to be caused by a large caisson that was being used in the construction of a new bridge. That caisson had come loose and hit the old bridge, causing it to come out of alignment and allowing the locomotive to plunge into the Piscataqua. This locomotive still sits at the bottom of the Piscataqua to this day. Back in early 1990s there was talk of pulling it out of the river and restoring it, but when it was determined that the cost was too prohibitive it was eventually decided to keep her in her watery grave. The last known photograph of #3666 was taken by former long time Walker Transportation Collection volunteer Harold Boothroyd in July of 1939 at Beverly Depot

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