Commercial Street in Portland is a very busy area, especially during tourist season. Can you imagine what it would be like if trains were running right down the middle of it? They did up until the 1980's.

Back in the days when the docks along Commercial street were serviced by rail, it wasn't uncommon to be driving down the street to see a train coming right at you. There's a great Facebook page called Portland History 1786 to Present that shared these photos of how things used to be on Commercial.



On one rare occasion in the 1970's, a long Maine Central Railroad train had to detour all the way down Commercial street due to a derailment on their main line.

Usually though, it was only a few cars at a time that would travel the street to service the docks, or exchange cars between the Grand Trunk Railroad on the east end and the Maine Central on the west end of Commercial.

If you look closely on certain parts of Commercial street you can still see some of the rails leftover. They're easily visible down on the west end near the International Marine Terminal, while some are still there just covered by pavement.

After the Back Cove rail bridge burned in 1984, rail traffic diminished significantly to the point that today you no longer see trains on Commercial. You can learn more about the bridge and how it burned at the link below.

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