CROGHAN — ALL ABOARD! The Railway Historical Society of Northern New York gave visitors the opportunity to ride the rails during the annual Iron Horse Day on Saturday.
For the cost of a one-day membership, the public could ride the fully restored 1945 Kalamazoo speeder car from the Croghan Depot to just outside Beaver Falls.
The open railway cars were originally used to transport workers and equipment to maintain the rails.
Along the approximately two-mile trip, riders could experience the sights, sounds and feel of the open rails. Clickety-clack, the steel wheels rolled over the trucks hitting speeds of about 10 to 12 mph. The vibration of steel on steel vibrated one’s teeth as they sat on the wooden benches.
Engineer Floyd “Junior” Graves, who along with his son Brian Graves restored the speeder car in 2010, skillfully guided the train cars along the tracks, coasting down the hills and chugging up the inclines. He estimated the speed of the car was 10 to 12 miles in second gear but admitted, “I don’t know how fast she’ll go — we’ve still got another gear.”
Slowing along at points during the 20-minute ride, the engineer pointed out the Beaver Falls along the Beaver River, sites of former mills, the round table which was used to turn the engine around on the railway line and the future of the tracks — a rail bike. The railway society president Ronald J. Trottier, who is the CEO of Railstarusa, plans to lease railway lines on which to use pedal-powered vehicles that ride on railroad tracks. Mr. Trottier owns the railway yard in Lowville and the Carthage depot. He is hoping to have the rail bikes available next year for trips from Carthage to Castorland and Lowville to Castorland.
“We need to cut trees and do some road work,” he said.
Returning to the depot, Laurie Halladay, a member of the railway society, asked what people thought of the ride. “Awesome,” “cool” and “great” were the responses she received.
Although they had previously visited the museum, Amber Oakes of Croghan and her daughter Zoe rode the speeder car for the first time Saturday.
Ms. Oakes said her favorite part of the ride was seeing the “spinning thing” referring to the railroad turntable. Her little girl liked “seeing the waterfalls.”
With the one-day membership, rail riders could tour the Croghan Depot Museum which has memorabilia of the Lowville Beaver River Railroad and a model of what the area railroads once looked like.
Genesee Valley Transportation now owns the railway but allows members to ride along the tracks.
The railway historical society plans to offer rides during the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce Fall Foliage event.
The museum, 9781 Route 812, is open for the summer from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.