Creation of Local Scenic Railroad

By SUSAN BAUTZ, Special to the Dorchester County Department of Economic Development “People love trains,” according to David Owens, vice president of the Eastern Shore Scenic Railroad (ESSR) volunteer group. If the numbers riding the train at the Hurlock Fall Festival are any indication, he is right. Once a year an engine and two restored passenger cars make six round trips between Hurlock and Federalsburg. The trips are sold out. About a thousand excited children, parents, and grandparents wait eagerly for a ride. Older folks remember train travel fondly; but for most children riding the rails means watching Thomas the Tank Engine. The success of the one day event and the popularity of scenic railroads in Western Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania encouraged the ESSR volunteers to pursue the creation of a scenic railroad on 6.4 miles of Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) owned track between Hurlock and Preston. For the past nine years the group has worked with MDOT’s railroad division to obtain rights to the short, unused and deteriorating track through leasing or ownership. The project promises to be an incredible boost to heritage tourism and translate into tens of thousands of dollars in terms of economic impact not …

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