PHILLIPS — With a Confederate encampment, Union and Rebel forces facing off around the train, flags flying and guns at the ready, followed in the evening by lantern-illuminated coaches, train riders can expect an exciting day on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad on Saturday, Aug. 19.

The railroad’s Civil War reenactment – with scenarios that will involve the train and its passengers – is one of a number of events during Phillips Old Home Days, Saturday through Sunday, Aug. 12 to 20.

There will be soldiers in uniform, both North and South; interaction with passengers as one side or the other searches the train for loot or deserters; a bit of gun play as a struggle for the train unfolds.

“Some of what will happen will be spontaneous,” said organizer Todd Olson. “Since Maine saw no such battle or skirmish, we’re making this up, but we’re making it up with as much authenticity as we can muster.”

And that means more than uniforms and gunfire: several women in period costume will be passengers on the train. Before or after the rides people may visit the soldiers’ encampment and talk with the reenactors; and on Sunday, Aug. 20, though no direct involvement with the train is expected, it’s quite possible visitors and train riders may witness what Todd calls “lingering battles” in the surrounding woods as the reenactors play at being soldiers.

While Civil War events have been staged at the SR&RL RR for the past five years, the last several have been under the coordination (together with the railroad) of Todd and Becky Olson at The Little White Church Antiques and Eats and Treats Café on Main Street.


Both have experience as reenactors and have taken part in Civil War events in New England and the South. Those joining them for the Aug. 19 event hail from all over New England.

Trains for the Aug. 19 reenactment will run from Sanders Station on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fares are $6 for age 13 and up, $1 for under 13, and children 5 or younger ride for free.

Trains will also run Friday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sanders Station is on Bridge Street.

FMI on reenactment: Todd or Becky at 207-639-2889.

The evening Lantern Trains will take riders into another kind of past Friday and Saturday evenings, Aug. 18 and 19. Riders will experience that bygone era when railway coaches were illuminated by oil lamps as the train traveled through the Maine woods. The softly-lighted trains will leave Sanders Station, both days at 8:30 and 9 p.m.

A three-day weekend run of steam-powered trains will take place over Labor Day weekend, Saturday through Monday, Sept. 1 to 3.

Trains will run on the hour, Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday and Monday, Labor Day, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Railfest, a model train and hobby show, will be held Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Phillips Area Community Center. It will include model train layouts and train-oriented vendors. More will be coming in the September newsletter.

The Ghost Train, too, has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30, but that could change. The exact time will be determined soon and will also be featured in the September newsletter.

A Confederate encampment, with battles taking place around the train, will take place on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad on Saturday, Aug. 19.

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