When George McEvoy opened Boothbay Railway Village in 1965, it became Maine’s first public railway museum. The Village, spanning 1850-1950, now encompasses 30 acres and over 25 historic buildings. To commemorate McEvoy’s vision and passion for preserving Maine’s history of railroading and daily life, BRV’s board of directors created Founder’s Day, an annual event to be celebrated the first Sunday following his Aug. 31 birthday.
McEvoy’s youngest daughter, Kate Rice, is on the BRV board and brought the idea to her fellow members. “I wanted to honor Dad in some way – his vision for this place and the gift he has given us,” Rice said at the event. “Everyone agreed: Why not offer a day for the community to come for free to enjoy the exhibits, the grounds and the train? And, I didn’t want to wait. Dad’s getting older and I wanted it to happen when he could enjoy and appreciate our honoring him.”
And so the first Founder’s Day celebration was held last Sunday, Sept. 3. Residents of the Boothbay Region, from Edgecomb to Southport, were admitted free of charge to enjoy the grounds, ride the steam train, check out the exhibits, and enjoy the sunny, late summer day. Refreshments included beverages, mac and cheese, burgers, hot dogs and popcorn.
Community booths included signing up to order a blue Emergency 911 sign with the homeowner’s house number on it. Signs are picked up at The Community Center. Boothbay Harbor Police Officer Larry Brown was heading up that table assisted by Sheyenne Upham, daughter of Boothbay Harbor Fire Chief Nick Upham. Brown said even though some residents have been at one address for decades, there are new officers in town who do not know all residents and/or where they live. So, everyone is encouraged to get one of the new blue reflective signs.
“The Maine Birthday Book” author Tonya Shevenelle was at the event, as were some of the book’s characters. The book, illustrated by Laura Winslow, was published in 2019.
Wildlife Rehabilitators Dan and Luanne Weeks, rescuers and “parents” of tiny screech owl Willow L. Moon, were there teaching visitors about what they do, and about screech owls and more. Willow will be with them at BRV’s Family Harvest Day, Sept. 30.
Musical entertainment by Dave Gagne and Jack Hartford rounded out the afternoon. The duo sang classic sing-a-longs, many with train themes, like “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” and “City of New Orleans.”
“I was a baby when Dad started building this place and it has become a part of me,” said McEvoy’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth McEvoy Henderson. “I was so excited when I heard about this. We are all so proud of what he’s accomplished here, keeping an integral part of our history alive for everyone to enjoy. It’s not just for children, it’s more than the steam train. We need to remember, going forward, that there was a different time and you really get to experience it here at the Village, not just read about it. Every time I come here, I love it.”
BRV is at 586 Wiscasset Road/Route 27 in Boothbay. For more information on events, exhibits and more, visit https://railwayvillage.org