FRYEBURG, Maine — Critics say it can’t be done, but if the owners of a proposed passenger train service are able to pull it off, it could bring hundreds of jobs and thousands of tourists to Maine. The last time the tracks in Fryeburg were used to carry passengers from Portland to Montreal, Canada, was in 1959. Now, 55 years later, plans are in the works to bring passenger train service back, linking Portland to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and to Montreal.
“I think this area needs that. I think the country needs that,” says Lisa Johnson of Chocorua, New Hampshire.
She’s already imagining how nice it would be to take a train to the Fryeburg Fair instead of fighting all that traffic.
“It’s a more relaxed way to travel,” she added. “You’re not fighting the traffic. You’re sitting back and relaxing, enjoying it.”
Better still, the president of Golden Eagle Railway says the new rail service would generate 200 full time jobs with benefits.
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ELLSWORTH, Maine — As conductor Gary Briggs yelled “all aboard” and passengers began to fill the cars, the train’s engine chugged to life, followed by a plume of gray smoke billowing from the locomotive stack.
The Downeast Scenic Railroad, a four-year labor of love for dozens of rail enthusiasts, made its inaugural run Saturday for volunteers and other guests who helped see the project through.
Tom Testa, president of the board of directors and the driving force behind bringing an excursion train to Hancock County, could not contain his enthusiasm. He talked passionately about the history of rails in eastern Maine and how trains brought that part of the state to the world. And he praised the collaboration of many public and private entities that made the Downeast Scenic Railroad go from dream to reality. More than 75 volunteers logged 37,000 hours clearing the abandoned tracks, repairing the rail bed and restoring old cars.
“No one person should take credit. We’ve all made this happen,” Testa said.
Click for the rest of this story by Eric Russell in the Bangor Daily News.
Tickets can be purchased at Cadillac Mountain Sports on High Street in Ellsworth or by calling 1-866-449-7345. For information about the Downeast Scenic Railroad, visit www.downeastscenicrail.org.