McAdam Railway Station has been an extremely important junction point in the history of the New Brunwick railway system. Today it enables railway traffic from Saint John (and through Saint John Moncton and Halifax) to connect with the Maine railway system on the one hand, and with Montreal on the other. While the presence of this huge railway station in a tiny town like McAdam seems somewhat odd today, there was a time in the latter part of the 19th century when the station enjoyed a booming traffic in summer passenger traffic from Boston, New York, Montreal and Quebec City.
Two signal events define the early history of the station. In 1869 the Maine Railway System connected with Houlton on the American side of the St. Croix River. The event was considered important enough for a golden last spike to be driven by President Ulysses S. Grant, hero of the Civil War. It was understood that in a short time the Canadian arm of this railway venture would complete its part of the plan - a line from Saint John to McAdam, with a bridge across the St. Croix River to connect the two. This was accomplished in 1871 and was called the Western Extension, to distinguish it from the railway linking Saint John to Monction, one of the first railways in the province, begun in 1853 and completed 1860.
With all three railway lines in place, freight and passenger traffic from the Eastern seaboard of the United States could connection with Saint John, Monction, and very importantly with Halifax, Canada's premier seaport on the Atlantic.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, having completed its line to the Pacific in 1884, was already snapping up ready-made trackage in the Maritimes, and by 1889 had completed a much delayed short line across Maine from Montreal connecting with Houlton and McAdam. Under William Van Horne, the construction boss of the railway and its second President, a handsome railway station was designed by Edward Maxwell of Montreal, a close personal friend of Sir William's, in Maxwell's trademark chateau style. The station was subsequently enlarged.
McAdam Station was an important junction point not only for traffic to and from the large cities in the Martimes, but also for Van Horne, Maxwell himself, and a host of other well-connected summer sojourners, to tiny St. Andrews on Passamaquoddy Bay. St. Andrews had projected the first railway line in the province (almost the first in Canada) in 1834 but work did not get underway until 1848, and because of a border dispute with Maine, was not able to cross that state in time to snare winter traffic from Quebec City and Montreal, which in 1876 passed on the Intercolonial Railway, connecting with Monction down the Eastern side of New Brunswick. The railway opted to head north to Riviere du Loup on the Quebec / New Brunswick border, but by 1862 had only gotten as far as Woodstock, where it stopped indefinitely. The upside for the CPR and for railway vacationers generally, however, was that the first part of the line connected St. Andrews with McAdam, and so with the assistance of the CPR St. Andrews was set on the way to becoming a premier resort town on the Canadian east coast.