LOWVILLE — A train enthusiast’s dream of developing a scenic railroad from Lowville to Carthage is on track to become a reality with the delivery of a locomotive by truck from Pennsylvania on Thursday morning.
Railstar Corp. Chief Executive Officer Ronald J. Trottier, having operated tourist train lines in Maine, Colorado and Florida, hopes to develop a local scenic railway similar to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in the Saranac Lake area. Mr. Trottier, owner of River Marine Inc., Cape Vincent, owns the railway yard in Lowville and recently purchased the former train depot on Mechanic Street in Carthage.
He plans to lease the railway lines between the two villages and utilize them for tourist trains and rail bikes — pedal-powered vehicles that ride on railroad tracks.
Mr. Trottier said the rail bikes have steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes and pedals for each seat. Running at 12 to 15 mph, the rail bikes don’t require “top-notch rail,” he said during a presentation to the River Area Council of Governments in June 2018.
The delivery of the General Electric 44-ton diesel switching engine went smoothly Thursday, according to Mr. Trottier, despite a downpour and road construction. The locomotive will sit on the railway next to Lowville Farmers Co-op on Shady Avenue until the railroad across Shady Avenue is complete and it can move down the track to the rail yard. The working locomotive can pull 10 empty cars, but Mr. Trottier said the proposed scenic railway will most likely only utilize three or four passenger cars.
Mr. Trottier, who’s also the president of Railway Historical Society of Northern New York in Croghan, said he’s always had an interest in trains and boats. He said he operated a tourist train in Colorado for 10 years and had a dinner train in Florida.
If not for the pandemic, Mr. Trottier said he would’ve had the rail bikes on track, but now hopes to have them operational by next spring. He’s also working on several projects to connect the railway with area attractions, including reopening the former Memories restaurant in Beaches Landing.
The railway organization owns a passenger car and locomotive stored in Lowville at this time, but may be relocated to Croghan. Its membership plans to work with Mr. Trottier to achieve the scenic railway line.
“We look forward to developing tourist participation in the railroad,” said Donald Mooney, a member of the Railway Historical Society. “We hope the line also goes west to Croghan where the museum is. We hope it becomes a viable tourist destination to help the economy of the area.”