PORTLAND – The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. and Museum may be headed for Gray.

Last week, the board of the nonprofit organization, located on the Portland waterfront, decided to go to Gray to hunt for land for its new home, bypassing Bridgton, Monson and Portland.

Board President Jerry Angier said Gray stood out from the rest because of its existing right of way along a defunct high-speed trolley line that linked Portland to Lewiston in the 1920s and 1930s. He said the museum will need to negotiate with several property owners, including Central Maine Power Co., which controls the trolley line.

He said his organization has also met with Gray landowner Dan Craffey, who owns Gray Plaza on Route 100 and Moose Landing Marina in Naples.

Angier said the museum has yet to sign any options for land or work out any permanent solutions.

“This is in the very early stage,” said Angier.

He said the museum plans to stay in Portland for the next three to five years and is working with city officials to help it do so.

The organization started searching for a new spot for its museum, railyard and 1.5 miles of track a year ago after its landlord, Phineas Sprague, put the Portland property up for sale. Angier said as tenants at will, they could be told by new owners to leave at any time, putting the museum in a precarious position.

The group asked potential host communities for proposals and started to meet with officials from the four that responded. Angier said the museum is also trying to figure out how to come up with the $2 million to $3 million it will cost to move.

“Where is the money going to come from, that is going to be the big nut to crack,” said Angier.

Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavodones said he was disappointed that Portland didn’t get the board’s vote.

“We are still open to discussing what the city can do to keep them in Portland,” said Mavodones.

The museum houses and operates railroad equipment from the state’s 2-foot-gauge railways, used between the 1870s and 1940s along 200 miles of line serving smaller Maine communities.

The museum operates an antique rail car powered by steam and diesel locomotive engines along a track that follows part of the Portland waterfront. The museum’s 19th-century building, the former home of a metal products manufacturer, holds displays of railroad equipment, models, photographs, documents, maps and other artifacts.

The museum’s more than 100 volunteers maintain the track, operate the trains and run the museum. About 25,000 people visit the museum annually.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]