The Thompson Historical Society has recently completed a documentary film about a Maine Narrow Gauge train that spent nearly 60 years in Thompson, Connecticut.
In 1937 Connecticut farmer Frank Ramsdell and his well-heeled accomplice William Monypeny bought the remnants of a defunct narrow gauge railroad in Wiscasset, Maine and relocated it to Thompson, Connecticut with the notion of getting it up and running as a train ride attraction on the farm. Their project moved right along – until it didn’t.
The Nine Lives of No. 9 examines the events that brought the locomotive to Connecticut, the mystery of the project’s collapse, the locomotive’s decades “hidden” at the Ramsdell farm in Thompson, Connecticut and the threats that almost destroyed it: a wartime scrap-drive, historic flood, the loss of the farm and a widow’s lawsuit. It delves into the cast of characters – from Frank Ramsdell, his daughter Alice, and her nephew Dale King in Connecticut, to Harry Percival and his protégé Jason LaMontagne in Wiscasset, Maine, and the dream they all shared – to see No. 9 run again.
The story is told through interviews with those who were there and archival interviews with Alice and Harry, and follows the tale through No. 9’s eventual return to its former home where it is now restored and operating as the centerpiece of the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway Museum in Alna, Maine.
The film was produced by media and research professionals working as volunteers for the Thompson Historical Society and sheds light on a story that has long been part of local legend.
The Nine Lives of No. 9 premiered on CPTV on Sunday, November 7, 2021.