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Civil War and lantern rides on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad

Civil War reenactors will stage an exciting event on the train on Aug. 19.

PHILLIPS - A Confederate encampment, Union and Rebel forces facing off around the train, flags flying and guns at the ready, followed in the evening by lantern-illuminated coaches – train riders can expect an exciting day on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad in Phillips on Saturday, Aug. 19.

The Railroad’s Civil War reenactment – with scenarios that will involve the train and its passengers – is one of a number of events during Phillips’ Old Home Days, August 12 through August 20. And in a week packed with attractions, Saturday’s Civil War offering adds a different thrill to a colorful and busy nine days.

What to expect? Soldiers in uniform, both North and South; interaction with passengers as one side or the other searches the train for loot or deserters; a bit of gun play as a struggle for the train unfolds. “Some of what will happen will be spontaneous,” says organizer Todd Olson. “Since Maine saw no such battle or skirmish, we’re making this up, but we’re making it up with as much authenticity as we can muster.”

And that means more than uniforms and gunfire: several women in period costume will be passengers on the train; before or after the rides people may visit the soldiers’ encampment and talk with the reenactors; and on Sunday, the 20th, though no direct involvement with the train is expected, it’s quite possible visitors and train riders may witness what Todd calls “lingering battles” in the surrounding woods as the reenactors play, noisily, at being soldiers.

While Civil War events have been staged at the SR&RLRR for the past five years, the last several have been under the coordination (together with the railroad) of Todd and Becky Olson at The Little White Church Antiques and Eats and Treats Café on Phillips’ Main Street. Both have wide experience as reenactors and have taken part in Civil War events in both New England and the South. Those joining them for the August 19 event with the SR&RLRR – both as Union and Confederate soldiers – hail from all over New England.

Trains for Saturday’s August 19 reenactment run from Sanders Station on the hour from 11 to 4. Fares are $6 for age 13 and up, $1 for under 13, and children 5 or younger ride for free. Trains will also run Friday and Sunday from 11 to 3. Sanders Station is on Bridge Street (look for the signs). Anyone wishing more information about the reenactment may call Todd or Becky at 207-639-2889.

And for those looking for another touch of history, the evening Lantern Trains will take riders into another kind of past Friday and Saturday evenings, August 18 and 19. Riders then can experience that bygone era when railway coaches were illuminated by oil lamps as the train travels through the darkness of the Maine woods. The softly-lighted trains will leave Sanders Station, both days, at 8:30 p.m. and again at 9.

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