To commemorate Amtrak’s 40th anniversary, Amtrak created a special history train with photos, uniforms, china and memorabilia from America’s railroading past. The train visited Boston August 6 & 7, 2011, at South Station, and Freeport August 13 & 14.
Amtrak put together interesting information about each town that the train visited. As it turns out, Freeport was shaped by both its seafaring communities in South Freeport and Porter’s Landing, and the place we now know as Freeport, which started out as Freeport Corner. The following is info from the Amtrak website.
Although settlement began in the late 17th century, Freeport was not incorporated until 1789 when it gained its own church. Accounts vary, but it seems that the town’s name was chosen in recognition of the fact that its harbor remained free of ice during the winter. Freeport developed as four complementary villages, with the three by the sea focused on shipbuilding and fishing activities. Saw, grist, and fulling mills were constructed along a portion of the harbor.
The inland village of Freeport Corner found itself thrust into a new role as the area’s commercial hub when the Kennebec and Portland Railroad arrived in town in 1849 as part of a project to link Portland and Augusta. In 1874, the line was purchased by the rival Maine Central Railroad (MEC) and permanently absorbed into a system that covered most of southern Maine while also extending into neighboring states and Canada.
With rail access to national markets, Freeport developed a manufacturing sector centered on shoe production. Referred to as the “Pine Tree Route” after the region’s dense forests, the MEC further opened the state to tourists who came to spend the summer in seaside cottages and resorts. Passenger service ended in 1960, and the fate of Freeport’s depot remained unclear until it was purchased by the Boothbay Railway Village Museum in 1964 and moved to its campus in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. In 2010, the state of Maine received $35 million under the federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. It will be used to extend Amtrak Downeaster service more than 30 miles from Portland to Brunswick, including a new station stop in Freeport.