GILEAD — Judy Bishop remembers the little train station in Gilead. By the time her father, George Daniels, took over as station agent in 1918, he was in a larger, newer building built in 1893. It was taken down in the early 1950s.

But the station, at 16 by 24 feet, remained as a storage building.

“My dad was a real railroad man,” said Bishop, who lived in Gilead until 1949 when her father was transferred to West Pownal.

She, and her husband, Bob, who now live in Yarmouth, have maintained strong ties with Gilead and the Gilead Historical Society.

So, too, has Ford Reiche, a Portland area businessman who rescued the station in 1991 when vandalism threatened it, and many thought what is believed to be the oldest station building in the state would be torn down.

He or family members have visited Gilead since the 1890s.

In 1991, Reiche brought the c. 1851 station to his business, Safe Handling, in Auburn, where it served as his office for a time.

“It was the first generation of train stations for the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad that was established to connect Portland and Montreal,” he said Monday afternoon.

In 1992, he applied for and was granted National Historic Register status for the building, and now, in 2011, it has been moved back to its home in Gilead where Reiche, with funds from his Presumpscot Foundation, and the Gilead Historical Society, are restoring the station.

“History is a personal passion,” said the man who has been crucial in the writing of the history of the Lewiston/Auburn Railroad.

A few weeks ago, work began on the building, said Lin Chapman, a Gilead Historical Society member. Clapboards and floor boards have been replaced, so far, she said.

“Eventually, it will be painted red and cream colored,” she said.

The train station isn’t exactly where it was originally, but instead, has been located next to what remains of most of Gilead’s other historic buildings along Route 2.

Lined up are the train station, the former school house which was moved from its original location when major road work was done a couple of years ago, the town office, and the historic town hall. The town hall has been pretty much restored and has been in use for many years as the site of the annual town meeting and other functions.

Chapman said the society is looking into grants to restore the schoolhouse.

The restoration of the train station, however, is expected to be completed in time for next June’s annual Friends and Family Day, Chapman said.

“We want to preserve history for future generations,” she said.

This same feeling is shared by Bishop.

“We’re very involved with the Gilead Historical Society. It’s important to save these pieces of history. They can’t be replaced,” she said.

Along with local residents, Chapman said the society includes members from several towns in Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Wyoming.

Once restored, the station will house artifacts from the railroad era such as lanterns, photographs of train wrecks and other topics, schedules and other memorabilia.

Because the station has been moved, the society must now reapply for National Historic Register status.


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