Jim here:

I noticed walking home around Back Cove here in Portland that there are pilings in the sand and muck in Back Cove. They follow where I-295 crosses Back Cove at its narrowest point where it opens in to Casco Bay. From the trail the pilings look too narrow to be train track, but maybe they’re narrow-gauge.

I know that at one point in its history Back Cove was actually much more of a commercial/industrial point for the city, with docks, quays and canals on the peninsula-side where Bayside flattens out on to Marginal Way. This kind of stuff showing how urban places have evolved fascinates me.

Portland’s unique in that its city spaces have devolved somewhat over time. There used to be a trolley line running out to Riverton, and there was a pretty well-developed urban park there on the Presumpscot with a casino and amphitheatre. Now it’s a densely wooded park.

I know why the trolley lines in the city disappeared — though sometimes I wish I lived here in the early part of the 20th Century when one could take a streetcar from Portland to Saco — and reducing urban parks with cobblestone sidewalks and benches into rustic wood lots is interesting — and certainly as with Back Cove removing the commercial/industrial applications perks my curiosity.

Updates

This map from Maine Historical Society shows two roalroad crossings where Back Cove opens in to Casco Bay. The pilings in the picture and in my long-ish comments about them appear to be for the rail line to the west.

Here’s a somewhat confusing map from Maine Historical Society showing how Back Cove and the Bayside neighborhoods have been land-filled.

Here’s a fantastic old map of Portland that makes the peninsula look straight out of a JRR Tolkein book.

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