This good brass key was made by the Slaymaker Company for the Maine Central Railroad.
It is stamped MCRR on one side of the bow in serif Roman letters and on the other is stamped a letter S and the SLAYMAKER name mark. From the dramatic "comma" shape of the bit, we can state unequivocally that this is a New England key, not a very similar Michigan Central key.
Color is a very attractive deepened brass with a brownish cast. There are light surface marks all over from use, but NO metal damage. It would appear this key had only little if any use. It may have been a "Slaymaker replacement" or New Old Stock; it has been documented that Slaymaker in particular made overruns of keys for its railroad customers that while they were railroad-purchased, either were used only a short time before operations shut down, or escaped use completely.
From Wikipedia: The Maine Central Railroad Company (reporting mark MEC ) was a former U. S. Class I railroad that operated in the central and southern regions of the state of Maine. It was chartered in 1856 and began operations in 1862. Headquartered in Portland, Maine, it also ran into the states of New Hampshire and Vermont and the Canadian province of New Brunswick. By 1884, the MCRR was the longest railroad in New England. It had expanded to 1,358 miles when the United States Railroad Administration assumed control in 1917 at the beginning of World War I. Following the war, the Maine Central began retracting. It sold or abandoned lines such as the narrow gauge and logging branches, as well as its hotels, ferries and steamships. In the 1930s it began to change its locomotives from steam-powered to diesel-powered. Beginning in 1933, Maine Central entered into a "joint management" agreement with the Boston & Maine Railroad, with which it shared the Portland Terminal Company.
Faced with increased competition from cars, trucks and buses, Maine Central operated its last passenger train on September 5, 1960, and continued to reduce its freight business to reflect changing traffic. In 1980, the railroad was purchased by U.S. Filter Corporation, which sold it in 1981 to Guilford Transportation Industries. GTI purchased the Boston & Maine Railroad (and thereby the Portland Terminal) in 1983 and the Delaware &Hudson Railway in 1984.
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