Gorham Historical Society & Railroad Museum
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!
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 applied for a but did not get a 2020 NH Historic Preservation Grant. For 2021 we will apply for a smaller NH Historic Preservation Building Assessment grant. This assessment, once completed, will then guide us in applying for a larger NH Historic Preservation Grant to undertake various important exterior repairs to the unique 1907 GTR depot. This includes some repairs to the fascia and eves, priming and repainting the clapboards and trim, repointing and repainting the many windows, rebuilding the deck and repairs to the foundation, especially on the south side where we have a drainage issue. If you’d like to contribute to this effort you can send donations to the GHS, attention “Depot Restoration Project.” Phase 1 will focus on the exterior. Phase 2 will focus on the interior work.
We also have needs for minor repairs to the roofs of a number of the railroad cars in 2021. The green boxcar, used for storage is also badly in need of paint. The three wood sided boxcars used for the Railroadiana Exhibit, the Model RR and for storage need siding replacement.
Long term plans are to finish the diesel project, if we can. The caboose also needs work. In 2012 we built stairs to allow visitors to look into our caboose. Eventually it’ll become a walk-through exhibit but it needs interior and exterior work. The Russell Snowplow and Steam Engine also will soon need to be repainted.
Gorham Historical Society
Located at 25 Railroad St., Gorham, NH 03581
Mailing address is P O Box 351, Gorham NH 03581.
2021 Officers of the Gorham Historical Society:
President - Reuben Rajala
Vice President - Tim Sappington
Secretary - Vacant
Treasurer - Carla Lapierre
Membership Director - Nathan Corrigan
Model Railroad Volunteers: Andrew Card and Connor Welch
GHS Facebook Coordinators: Reuben Rajala, Nathan Corrigan 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. Because of Covid we have done fewer meetings and done others via Zoom.
We hope to be open for the 2021 season from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day, depending upon weather and volunteer availability. Covid will also be a factor. The number of visitors allowed in the depot at any one time will be 8. Masks are required for entry. Typically, we’ll be open Wednesday thru Saturday, depending up on weather and availability of volunteer guides. Hours are normally 10 AM-3 PM but they may vary. On some long weekends we sometimes are open Sunday and Monday too.
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 and in the winter months contact Reuben at 603-723-1455 cell or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2021 is the 48th 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.