The Somerset Traction Company
The small 16.8-mile Somerset Traction Company was an interurban that started in 1895 and connected its two namesake towns in the state of Maine. Older topographical maps simply label the line "Electric RR". Its routing was not direct between the two towns, however -- the line wandered northwards from Skowhegan for some distance before turning back southwest to reach Madison. It is believed that the reason for the indirect routing was to reach Lake Wesserunsett, near Lakewood. At this site, the STC created a small amusement park and theater to which their line connected, in order to stimulate passenger service. (This is a tactic not uncommon among interurban companies to increase ridership.)
The entire line was abandoned in the 1930s. Today, most of the abandoned right-of-way serves as the roadbed for automobile highways, such as US Route 201 north out of Skowhegan, and ME Route 43 northwest out of Madison. It is probable that the STC connected with the then Somerset Railroad in Madison; today the Somerset Railroad line is part of the Guilford/Pan-Am railroad system.
One other artifact that remains today is the amusement park area at Lake Wesserunsett, today known as "Lakewood Theater". In 1967, the Maine State Legislature designated Lakewood Theater as "The Official Theater for the State of Maine". Now in ther 109th season (as of 2009), it still remains in operation today, a vague reminder of the legacy left behind by the Somerset Traction Company.
Thanks to Andrew Laverdiere for contributing information.
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