1871: The End of the Line for a Railroad Entrepreneur in Maine  

September 6, 1871

John A. Poor, whose accomplishments included helping to develop and enrich Maine’s railroad network, died in Portland, Maine, at the age of 63. A lifelong Mainer, Poor had a deep appreciation for the potential of railroads within that state. This appreciation could be traced as far back as 1834, when he first saw a steam locomotive of the Boston & Worcester Railroad in operation. 

Poor dedicated himself to leveraging the best rail-based opportunities possible for his home state. He brought to that task effective speaking skills, a commanding presence, first-rate organizational abilities, and a great deal of persistence. The Boston Journal proclaimed at the time of Poor’s death, “In season and out of season — before meetings of merchants and in remote towns, often in the most inclement weather of a Maine Winter, through the Press and by individual persuasion — he urged his ideas, until he had the satisfaction of seeing them embodied in the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Road, the nucleus of what is now better known as the Grand Trunk Railway.” 

In short, Poor’s dogged efforts to bring the Atlantic & Saint Lawrence Railroad into existence during the 1840s provided the Montreal-based Grand Trunk Railway with access to Portland as an ice-free winter seaport while giving that Maine city the commercial advantage of handling Canadian exports. Poor’s other achievements included launching the Portland Company to manufacture equipment for the Atlantic & Saint Lawrence Railroad; promoting the creation of the European & North American Railway between southeastern Maine and Canada’s maritime province of New Brunswick; and serving as president of both the York & Cumberland Railroad and Penobscot & Kennebec Railroad. 

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on John A. Poor, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Poor

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