The Official Short History of

The Katahdin Valley Railroad Company

     During the summer of 1974 a group of Maine businessmen were vacationing at Chimney Pond, in the shadow of Maine's tallest peak, Mt. Katahdin. (the start of the Appalachian Trail, by the way)  The men, being friends and sharing the same interests, were discussing the possibility of a joint venture.  An investment that would benefit their home state as well as their bank accounts.  As they sat around the cabin eating cold beans and drinking warm beer (the fish weren't biting, but the blackflies were) they decided to pool their resources, and formed the Katahdin Valley Investment Group.  The original partners were Leveille Breweries, Penobscot Rail Services, Waldo Terminal, Veazie & Orono Railroad Co., and Pen-Bay Leasing.  Everyone being in transportation related industries, they went forth to find a railroad to run.

    As luck would have it, The Maine Central wanted to abandon the Mountain Division from Portland, Maine to St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  To avoid a protracted abandonment hearing the MEC subcontracted the line in late 1974 to the newly formed Katahdin Valley Railroad Company.  The deal was sealed with development capital from KVIG and a case of Bodfish Beer.  This line was bought outright in 1979.  Also in 1979 the KVR signed a long term lease-purchase agreement with the Canadian Pacific to operate and eventually buy the International of Maine Division.  The division runs from Jackman to Vanceboro, bisecting the state.  This agreement eliminated problems that CPR was having with the State and the U.S. Customs service.  It also allowed the KVR to become more than just a "paper" railroad.  One of the conditions was that VIA Rail Canada keep its present running rights.

    Due to corporate raiding and a bad merger MEC began to abandon more of its system.  After the Guilford takeover, the KVR was able to acquire much old Maine Central trackage.  Starting with the Calais branch in 1980 and the Dover branch in 1981, the cash poor Guilford shed more and more of the old MEC.  The Katahdin Valley purchased the Bucksport and Mattawamkeg branches in 1983, and in 1984 took over Bangor yard.  As of Jan. 20, 1987 KVR purchased all track and facilities east of Waterville Maine.

    In January of 1984 the KVR negotiated an agreement with the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad for running rights from Brownville Jct. to the proposed container port at Searsport.  This agreement gave KVR access to the port in return for an undisclosed cash settlement and a ton/mile charge.  It also provided for shared maintenance of the line, development capital and legislative horsepower to help overcome the pinheads at the Sierra Club and EPA.

    Presently  KVR's traffic is comprised of paper mill and associated wood product traffic; bridge traffic between the container port, the Maritimes, and points west; and resurgent containerized agricultural traffic.  A lot of resources have been plowed into the container port, and container technology.  The future of the Katahdin Valley will depend on road/ rail interface for the foreseeable future.

See below for the route map of the KVR

Route Map


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