Grand Trunk Railway station, Bethel, ca. 1880

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The arrival of the Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad in 1851 transformed Bethel, almost overnight, into a center for trade and tourism.

Completed between Portland and Montreal in July 1853, the rail line was the main transportation route south for hundreds of Civil War recruits departing Bethel and other western Maine towns. During the war years, guards were positioned in strategic locations along the railroad--notably at major bridge crossings--to prevent sabotage by Confederate sympathizers.

Constructed in 1865 as the town's second railway terminus, the Grand Trunk (later Canadian National) station was demolished in 1968.

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