Donald Ball 212 pages hardcover
When the Massachusetts towns of Bedford and Billerica clamored for a railroad, George E. Mansfield appeared on the scene and sold them on a new, inexpensive way to build one. He finished the line and it was acclaimed around the world as a brilliant new departure in railroad building. The Billerica and Bedford Railroad delivered everything its promoter said it would but, yet, it failed financially in less than a year. What happened to cause this failure' Using original railroad documents and letters along with newspaper and trade journal articles, the author delves into the behind-the-scenes machinations that plagued this 8-mile line. The backgrounds of the people involved are explored to determine their goals and motivations. Numerous drawings of the railroad rolling stock and structures are included along with examinations of the technical aspects of line which made it so revolutionary. George Mansfield went on to build the Sandy River Railroad as well as the Bridgton and Saco River Railroad, both of which survived into the 1930s and beyond. After only six years of railroad building, though, Mansfield seemingly vanished from the railroad scene without building another railroad. This is the story of the pioneer two-footer which paved the way for the more successful narrow-gauge lines built in Maine and other locations around the country. It is also the story of the promoter of the Mansfield System of two-foot gauge railroads, who he was, where he came from and what happened to him and his dreams.