New Leadership + New Direction: Gives “Hope” to Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum Supporters

Museum director, Allison Tevsh Zittel with board president, Brian Durham

By Carol McCracken (Post # 568)

A recent change in leadershiip at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum together with the intent to move from its current location at 58 Fore Street has boosted hope for the future of the “two-footers” and its supporters.

The new Museum Director is Allison Tevsh Zittel. Until earlier this summer Zittel served as an assistant to the former director, who left on August 4th. Meanwhile, Brian Durham, president of the board, is sharing leadership roles with Zittel. On June 26th, Durham was one of two volunteers elected to the Board. Durham said this afternoon at the Museum: “The board needed to be more closely aligned with the membership and the volunteers. Now, the vast majority of board members are active volunteers. Volunteers have a vested interest in the organization. The board will be taking actions supported by the members and volunteers. Those of us who were involved in the transition think that is the best for the organization.”

Durham, a retired attorney for the US Coast Guard, said there are three priorities as of today. The first priority is to look for a new location since factors supporting their remaining at 58 Fore Street are not favorable. Jeff Monroe, a former city official and head of the relocation committee sent out letters of interest to communities in the area. Portland and six other communities have shown interest so far. Soon, RFP’s will go out as well to narrow down the interested parties.

The second priority is the 3rd annual holiday Polar Express which is the Museum’s major fundraiser. Zittel has assumed that responsibility since the departure of the former director in August. The third priority is improved communications between the community and the Museum employees and volunteers. That is expected to be improved by the regular publication of the museum newsletter – “Two Foot Flyer,” and internet communication with the museum staff.

September 19th marks the 17th anniversary of the arrival of the “two-footers” in Portland. Formerly, it had been known as the Edaville Railroad, South Carver, MA. It was also known as the Cranberry Line because it became a major tourist attraction on a cranberry plantation belonging to Ellis D. Atwood, a principal in the Ocean Spray Cranberry business and the individual remembered for saving many of the two-footers from total destruction following World War II.