|Just Maine Central Railroad's lines, 1923|
|Steam and sailing ships unloading at Portland waterfront|
Portland was one of Maine's significant "transportation breaks" or places where multiple forms of transportation intersected and transferred people and things from one place to another. Shipping met steam railroads, electric railways, and horse-drawn vehicles.
I remember my mother telling me how, after WWII, she would board a Grand Trunk train on India Street bound for Montreal with her skis thrown over her shoulder. Public transportation to Canada for skiing? It's a marvel to us today.
|Union Station, represented on a postcard|
|Destruction of Union Station, Portland|
|View down 19th c. Commercial Street - note railways and ship masts|
Until recently, those rail lines still ran down the spine of Commercial Street. When I was learning to drive, I remember my father shouting at me to avoid driving parallel to the tracks; he said the rails would cut the tires. Whether they really would or not, I don't know, but I learned how to weave back and forth across the rails, without seeming as though I was an intoxicated driver. The rails were removed or paved over years ago, but next time you're walking or driving down Commercial Street, take a moment. Appreciate the wide straight street parallel to the waterfront. Imagine ships nosed up to the wharves, trains plying their way down the middle of the street, and horse-drawn vehicles dodging to and fro. And don't forget to watch where you step.