Concord would love to see the Flying Yankee train return here – at least, if it’s free 

  • The Flying Yankee makes a stop in Windsor, Vt. Courtesy

  • Wayne Gagnon, one of the leaders of attempts to restore the Flying Yankee, is shown in front of the train at the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln. COURTESY

Monitor staff
Published: 4/13/2016 6:26:07 PM

The city council would be delighted to see the historic Flying Yankee return to the city where it once spent many a weekend in the train yards – especially if it doesn’t cost them anything.

“No money was asked for. No money was offered on behalf of the city,” City Manager Tom Aspell said during Monday night’s council meeting, drawing a laugh from the board.

The council unanimously approved a resolution allowing the city to work with the nonprofit Flying Yankee Restoration Group to try bringing the 200-foot-long train to Concord.

“We would work with them, introduce them to folks we thought would be interested in this type of product or facility and try to build on the history of Concord and tourism pieces associated with this,” Aspell said. “I think there’s something in it for the Yankee Flyer Restoration Group and the city of Concord. . . . I can see a relationship being built up over the next several years.”

The Flying Yankee has been stored at the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln for years, and the hope is to haul it to the former Boston & Maine Railroad Concord Shops, on tracks behind Big Jim’s Home Center on South Main Street.

Eventually, according to the group’s vision, the sleek metallic train could be the centerpiece of a transportation museum that might incorporate Concord Coach and possibly help revitalize the north end of Storrs Street.

All that requires money, however, which is why the Flying Yankee is still in Lincoln. The city’s support is another small step toward changing that.

“The FYRG now has the green signal to proceed ahead with new home planning,” said Wayne Gagnon, one of the directors of the Flying Yankee Restoration Group, using an appropriately train-like metaphor for the council decision.

The train is owned by the state, which bought it from a private owner years ago, but tax dollars are not likely to be spent on its rehabilitation.

The Flying Yankee was famous as one of a very few stainless steel “streamliners” with a sleek futuristic shape and gleaming body. In 22 years of service, from 1935 to 1957, it covered about 3.5 million miles, and for most of that time was maintained at the Concord Shops, which employed thousands of people.

After retiring in favor of diesel trains, it went to the Edaville Railroad museum operation in Carver, Mass., where it was displayed until Bob “Stony” Morrell, owner of Story Land in Glen, bought it in the early 1990s. Morrell had great plans for the train but died of cancer at age 50 in 2006, and the project has been stalled ever since.

The train was called the Flying Yankee, which went south-north between Boston and Bangor, Maine; the Minuteman, which went east-west from Boston to Troy, N.Y.; the Mountaineer carrying ski trains from Boston through North Conway; the Newsboy that zipped to Fitchburg, Mass., and back, and the Cheshire, which traveled up and down the Connecticut River.

One thing it wasn’t called was Yankee Flyer, although you can find that name applied to it in some online sources. You could also have heard that name Monday night, as Aspell mistakenly used it in his presentation.

In New Hampshire, Yankee Flyer most often is used for a famous former diner in downtown Nashua, memorialized in a mural on that city’s Main Street.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek)




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