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Hospitality & Tourism

Oct. 7 - St. Marys Excursion Railroad Another Tourism Drawing Card

The romantic notion of riding the clicking rails is one that most Americans only read about. Now, catching a short ride and watching the world slide is a little easier for visitors to St. Marys.

The St. Marys Railroad began excursion train service between Theatre by the Trax in St. Marys and a turnaround north of town. The first excursion was Oct. 5 during the annual Rock Shrimp Festival in St. Marys.

Paul Pleasant is at the controls as the general manager and engineer of St. Marys Railroad, which also hauls freight and makes heavy deliveries to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

The Trustee, the 1,200-horsepower switch engine pulls the freight cars and will be the locomotive for the first passenger excursions. Soon, a larger locomotive, The Admiral, will pull the train.

Most people experience the St. Marys Railroad as passersby on Georgia 40. But as the tracks veer away from the highway, there are several picturesque views for train passengers.

All rides will leave the Theatre by the Trax, 1000 Osborne Road, and last about 90 minutes, with a stop at the midway point. Visitors will travel through woodlands and over Borrell Creek, with beautiful vistas of marshlands and tidal creeks.

At the midway point, passengers will disembark, where they will participate in different activities as the conductor turns the train around for the return trip.

Open passenger cars will pass over the marsh and Dark Entry Creek, past homes and through the woods. At the western turnaround, deer and wild turkey are common sights. A stop atop the trestle allows passengers a rare angle for photos.

The cars can accommodate 158 people for each 1 1/2-hour trip, Ryan said.

Boatright Companies, which owns the railroad, sees the train as a way of giving back to the community, said Katherine Marsh, a spokeswoman for Boatright.

“The themed train excursions will be something that can be shared by families and, at the same time, will fuel the legacy of one of America’s most revered forms of transportation,” Marsh said.

Onboard, narrators will tell about the history of the railroad and hobo stories. There will be other characters onboard as well, such as zombies. All attendants will be dressed in railroad costumes.

Other scheduled events include: The Santa Express on Nov. 23 through Dec. 7, the Wild West Express, at a time to be announced, and the Peter Cottontail Express near Easter.

Other excursions will be planned around themes that could include pirates and patriotism.

"Concepts for the St. Marys Railroad Express excursions are limited only by our imagination," said Barbara Ryan, chair of St. Marys Little Theatre. "And we have a pretty big imagination."

The St. Marys Railroad Express Excursion Train is a joint effort between St. Marys Railroad, St. Marys Little Theatre and Theatre by the Trax.

The next scheduled excursion, on Oct. 12, will leave at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $11 for ages 3 to 12 and free for ages 2 and younger.

Lean more, see schedules and buy tickets online.

 

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