Gilead's 1851 train station on track to return from Auburn
For the past 20 years, Gilead’s 160-year-old train station has served as an office building in Auburn.
Its owner, Ford Reiche, has now offered to return the building to Gilead, according to Lin McLain Chapman, of the Gilead Historical Society.
The old station would sit on the McLain family lot next to the town’s old schoolhouse, which was also recently relocated there. Stephen and Lise McLain donated the lot to the GHS several years ago.
The station was saved from destruction in 1991 when Reiche, a lifetime member of the GHS, moved it from Gilead to Auburn after the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad decided the building was no longer needed. Reiche also successfully applied for the building to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Reiche recently sold his Auburn business and formed the Presumpscot Foundation, which is financing the station’s relocation back to Gilead, according to Chapman.
She said she hopes the move can take place within the next couple of weeks.
"If passenger train service returns, Gilead will be ready," she joked (see rail service story).
Chapman provided the following information about the station, from a 1990 letter by railroad buff John R. Davis:
“The building at Milepost 80, long regarded as a track department toolhouse, is the original Gilead Depot, built by the Atlantic & St. Lawrence in 1851, and is thus one of the oldest railroad station buildings on the continent, as well as being the only surviving structure built by A&St.L carpentry force. It served as Gilead’s depot until being moved some 20 feet eastward in 1892 and fitted out for use as the baggage shed, when the new Gilead depot was erected. Upon closing of the Gilead agency in the late 1950s, this building was turned over to the track department and therefore escaped the fate of being razed.”
Additional information is provided from “The Patent,” a publication of the GHS:
“The first railroad station was built in June 1851 (plans by Ezra Beal, Atlantic & St. Lawrence Chief Engineer). The building was 16' wide by 24' long and was refurbished in 1865 with wainscoting. It served as the depot until 1893. At that point, it was moved eastward to be used as a baggage house. In 1950, the building became a track department section and tool house. It remained at that site until it was no longer needed and in 1991, it was acquired by Safe Handling, Inc. and moved to Auburn, Maine.
“The second station was built in 1893 and remained on site until 1955. The building was built to plans of the Grand Trunk Railroad Montreal Chief Engineer and measured 20' wide by 47' long. There was a 4,130 sq. ft. open platform in front of the building.
“The Gilead Station also served the Town of Hastings, which was located in the Wild River
Valley. The Wild River Lumber Company was formed in 1891. They built the railroad from Gilead to Hastings to bring the lumber and other products to Gilead to make connections with the Grand Trunk Railroad.”