As a Waterville native, I was disappointed with the vote by the city council and mayor to sell, with conditions, Maine Central’s 470 steam engine on upper College Avenue. One should realize the important role this company has played in Waterville’s illustrious past. An article in the Morning Sentinel on July 17, 1941, stated “the 470 will be dedicated in August as a permanent memorial for the important role it contributed in the industrialization of this area.”

In 1947, Maine Central shops serviced 128 steam locomotives. The company had barely survived the Great Depression, but bloomed during World War II with more than 600 workers in the rail yards. In 1951, the 470 made its last run from Portland to Bangor. E. Spencer Miller, president of Maine Central, noted in 1962, the company’s centennial year, that “Waterville is the historical, geographical and mechanical heart of the company’s system.”

Steam engines had come here as early as 1849. Waterville became a city in 1888 and adopted a city seal that shows a steam engine crossing the Ticonic Bridge. Councilor Fred Stubbert was correct in saying that “the 470 belongs to the people of Waterville.” This city was considered the rail hub for the state during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and one of the largest in New England.

I am not suggesting that the 470 be restored to running condition because of the prohibitive cost. By maintaining only the exterior with paint every seven to 10 years, and whatever else is necessary, possibly by interested assistance from railroad personnel, an historic artifact would be preserved. Many families in the area have ancestors who proudly worked for Maine Central Rail Road.

Let’s save the 470 as a tribute to those who contributed so much to the development of our community.

Willard B. Arnold IIIWaterville

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