Gorham Historical Society & Railroad Museum

Grand Trunk Railroad Station, Gorham, NH early 1900s, from an early 1900s postcard.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The town of Gorham was incorporated in 1836, after having been in existence since 1771 as Shelburne Addition. In its early years, the town contained little more than poor rocky farms, small logging operations, a few stores and stables. The arrival of the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad (later to be known as the Grand Trunk Railway) in 1851, had a profound and lasting impact upon this part of the Androscoggin Valley. Suddenly, other White Mountain towns that had enjoyed the bulk of the fast growing tourist trade found their stagecoach connections eclipsed by Gorham and its railroad. Tourists from the East coast and Canada flocked to the railroad owned White Mountain Station House (later known as the Alpine House), to the nearby Glen House, the summit of Mt. Washington, and other scenic spots.

The Grand Trunk Railway, which later became known as the Canadian National and, more recently, the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, opened the area to tourist trade, which is now the principal industry of the community. At first, Gorham, midway between Montreal and the Portland, ME, was a major rail yard and repair center, but, gradually the significance of Gorham to the GTR diminished, as did the importance of the railroads to the country. Logging for timber, exemplified by the once famous Libby and Peabody lumber companies, has likewise declined though trees are still harvested for the paper mills in Gorham and Rumford, ME, chip burning energy plants and sawmills.

In 1973, the existing railroad station (built in 1907) was saved from destruction by the Gorham Historical Society. The architecturally unique building, contains displays on area and railroad history. The GHS continually works to expand museum exhibits about the railroads, tourism, the forest products industry and it's residents. The White Mountains are a most scenic and interesting part of New England!

A 1911 Baldwin 0-6-0 steam locomotive, rescued from the scrap pile in 1986, is a key part of our railroad exhibit. Other railroad equipment on display includes: 1949 F-7 B&M diesel locomotive, two 1929 boxcars, a 1951 Russell snow plow, a 1924 boxcar and a 1942 caboose.

Come visit our unique Model Railroad, found within a boxcar, and also the special Quinn-Crocket Railroadiana collection, also located within a boxcar. GT-CN Historian John Davis, from Maine, oversees this special exhibit. Work on the diesel restoration project continues, converting the B&M locomotive into a picture gallery and movie theater, with a locomotive simulator in the cab. Donations and a NHDOT grant helped us complete phase 1 work. We are developing plans to try to fund and finish the diesel project. In 2012 we built stairs to allow visitors to look into our caboose. Eventually it'll become a walk-through exhibit.

We are developing plans to try to fund and finish the diesel project. In 2012 we built stairs to allow visitors to look into our caboose. Eventually it’ll become a walk-through exhibit. For 2020 we have applied for a $10,000 NH Historic Preservation Grant, to do various repairs to the unique 1907 GTR depot, which serves as our seasonal museum. We’ll know about the grant in April. If you’d like to contribute to this effort you can send donations to the GHS, attention “Depot Restoration Project.”

Gorham Historical Society
Located at 25 Railroad St., Gorham, NH 03581
Mailing address is P O Box 351, Gorham NH 03581.

2018 Officers of the Gorham Historical Society:
President - Reuben Rajala
Vice President - Tim Sappington
Secretary - Vacant
Treasurer - Carla Lapierre
Membership Director - Nathan Corrigan
GHS Facebook Coordinators: Derek Palmieri and Ann Evankow

Monthly meetings are usually held in the Vestry of the Gorham Congregational Church.  Due to schedules of Board members, we have dates that are subject to change from month to month.

We hope to be open for the 2020 season from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day, with some earlier and later weekends, depending upon weather and volunteer availability. Hours are normally 10 AM-3 PM but they sometimes vary depending up availability of volunteer guides. Typically, we'll be open Wednesday thru Saturday.

If you wish to become a member or supporter, have questions about our museum or wish to donate a family story, photo or artifact, contact us by mail, call us at the museum (603) 466-5338 (winter months contact Reuben at 603-723-1455 cell) or email us at gorhamhistoricalsociety@gmail.com

2020 is the 47th Anniversary of the
Gorham Historical Society!

Whales on the Railroad T-Shirts Available - Your purchase supports GHS.

We welcome the donation of artifacts or funds to support our work. You can also volunteer or become a member or corporate sponsor. Contact us for details.

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