696 Sanford Road Wells, ME 04090
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Facility Ownership||Maine Turnpike Authority|
|Parking Lot Ownership||Maine Turnpike Authority|
|Platform Ownership||Pan Am Railways, NNEPRA|
|Track Ownership||Pan Am Railways|
|96 Long Term Parking Spaces||ATM||Accessible Payphones|
|Accessible Platform||Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Ticket Office|
|Accessible Water Fountain||Dedicated Parking||Enclosed Waiting Area|
|High Platform||Pay Phones||Quik Trak Kiosk|
|Restrooms||Short Term Parking Spaces|
(301) 564-5760 (ph)
Local Community Links:
- Town of Wells, ME
- Amtrak Downeaster
- Sanford Ocean Shuttle and Shoreline Explorer Trolley (seasonal)
- Wells National Estuarine Reserve
- Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
The Amtrak stop in this town for the Downeaster is the modern Wells Regional Transportation Center, a sturdy masonry construction, which also serves intercity buses, carpools and the local trolley. At one and a half stories, the cream-colored brick building with its wide, green hipped double tin-style roof with a short central tower sits in a neatly landscaped open area. Tall trees of a forested lot stand on far side of the platform and a matching green canopy on the platform provides some shelter from the elements as well. The center is located directly off an exit to Interstate 95 and on one of the main roads leading into the town.
The Wells Transportation Center opened in June of 2003, having been designed and built by the Maine Turnpike Authority. As early as 1993, the town had voted in favor of building a new transportation center, thanks in part to the efforts of the TrainRiders/Northeast organization. Originally envisioned as a multi-use complex with a restaurant and shops, the current less ambitious building was constructed after the Maine Turnpike Authority won a $1 million federal grant to build it, which it combined with $400,000 of state funds.
The town of Wells and its Chamber of Commerce sponsor the Transportation Center waiting area and restrooms, with an ATM, vending machines, pay phone, and information. Train Hosts are also available to assist with travel needs and connecting transportation. The Boston and Maine (B&M) Railroad arrived in Wells in the 1840s and the B&M passenger depot, was also once sited on Depot Drive. It was moved to a private museum further north on U.S. Route 1.
The return of passenger service to Portland and northern New England began as a grass-roots movement with the founding in 1989 of TrainRiders/Northeast, a non-profit volunteer organization, by Wayne Davis, who possessed a strong vision of what that passenger service could be. On July 14, 1989, the Maine State Legislature enacted the Passenger Rail Service Act directing the Maine Department of Transportation to take all actions necessary to establish regularly scheduled passenger rail service within and outside the State of Maine. The Act further directed that the expenditure of funds to carry out this mandate would be spent first to restore passenger rail service between Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass. In 1995, the Maine Legislature further established the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) to develop and provide passenger rail service between Maine and Boston and points within Maine. Davis’s work came to fruition with the beginning of the Downeaster service in 2001, which is applauded for providing relief to traffic congestion, high gasoline prices, and parking scarcity. Main’s Governor Angus King and Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as well as Amtrak officials and many of the train-riding public attended the Downeaster’s inauguration. TrainRiders/Northeast today also provides volunteer train hosts on the Downeaster.
On February 26, 2010, NNEPRA announced a $35 million grant, awarded as part of the High-Speed Intercity Rail Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to restore service between Portland and Brunswick along 30 miles of track owned by Pan Am Railways, the successor to the B&M. Work on the extension of the Downeaster began with its kickoff on August 2, 2010, in Brunswick, Maine.
Wells was one of Maine’s earliest English settlements, being the third to incorporate in the state. Located in the portion of Maine awarded to Sir Ferdinando Gorges in 1622 by the Plymouth Company of England, the area was granted to agents from Exeter, New Hampshire in 1641 by his young cousin and agent, Thomas Gorges. By 1643, Edmund Littlefield, who is recognized as the town’s founder, had erected a sawmill on the Webhannet River near the center of the present-day town. Following Gorges death and upheavals in English politics, the Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed all of Maine; however Wells incorporated at that time to retain some of its independence. Wells was named for Wells, Somerset, a small cathedral town in England.
Wells was originally somewhat larger. When Maine became a state in 1820 Kennebunk, on the north, separated from the town to become its own municipality. Ogonquitt, on the south side, separated in 1980 to become its own town as well.
The Webhannet River provided an inlet past the coastal barrier islands and through the salt marshes for the settlers, and its several tributaries made good mill streams. By the time of the French and Indian wars, due to the ravages from the French-backed natives on the coast, Wells became the northernmost English-speaking outpost in coastal New England, having held out despite repeated attacks. The town’s Storer Park commemorates the town’s successful resistance in those conflicts with from Lieutenant Storer’s garrison. Hostilities continued on and off until after the Battle of Louisburg in 1745. Unlike other towns in the area, Wells was never abandoned.
The town has largely made its living with farming, hay production from the marshes, ship building, and fishing. With the arrival of the railroads in Maine, the barrier island’s beaches became an attraction for summer vacationers. Beach tourism and the town’s commercial shipyard and recreational fishing still provide a livelihood for the townspeople. Visitors may also wish to visit the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, which provides walking trails and various activities, in addition to being a center for research in estuaries and coastal salt marsh habitats. The Wells Reserve monitoring program collects, analyzes, and makes available weather, water quality and nutrient data from all National Estuarine Research Reserves. This small preserve to the north of the town is sited next to the much larger Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the state of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth, and will contain approximately 14,600 acres when its land acquisition is complete. The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. Major habitat types present on the refuge include forested upland, barrier beach/dune, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and the distinctive rocky coast.
The Downeaster is financed primarily through funds made available by the NNEPRA. Amtrak provides neither ticketing nor baggage services at the Wells station, which is served by 10 daily trains.
Station photo courtesy of Bill Lord