The Herald News, Friday, April 13, 2012 – Page B1
What was said to be the first passenger train to go through the city in half a century crawled along the tracks from State Pier to just short of the Fall River Country Club, giving riders on Thursday a view few get to see anymore. At times, the Taunton River seemed to be just outside the window and backyards practically within arms’ reach.
Along the way, people — many armed with cameras — waved from parked cars, back doors and porches, and drivers along Davol Street beeped their horns.
Among the 180 or so who bought tickets for the dinner train, many said they wanted to experience something people haven’t been able to see in Fall River in generations: a view of the city from the seldom-used tracks.
“We wanted to be the first ones,” Terri Messier of Fall River said of the two-hour trip, the first of many passenger trips planned for the route.
Messier has ridden on scenic trains in Newport, R.I., and in New Hampshire, and said she was eager to take a trip once she heard one would take place in Fall River.
Debbie Goetz of Tiverton said the trip reminded her of stories she’d hear about her brother catching trains decades ago before passenger service was halted.
“I think they should have done this years ago,” Goetz said. “It’s nice to see something special like this in Fall River.”
Many passengers took pictures as the train went along past the old train depot, where steps from Pearce Street still stand, over President Avenue, along Weaver’s Cove and along the Taunton River near the Fall River Country Club. Some said they even enjoyed the graffiti right outside the window when the train passed under bridges.
“Look at this,” Messier said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Anthony Cowen, a 21-year-old from Fall River, said he used to ride on scenic trains when he grew up in Vermont and enjoyed the trip for the nostalgia of when people would travel together instead of individually in automobiles.
“It’s something people would do a long time ago, and they just don’t do it anymore,” he said.
Conductor Dana Rowe told passengers as they began the trip, “You’re making history with us tonight.” Passengers applauded at the end of the trip when Rowe thanked them for taking part in the first passenger trip through the city since 1959.
The train, which traveled less than 10 mph for a span of almost four miles, is owned by Cape Cod Central Railroad, which is also running a children’s-themed train for April school vacation. Called the Hobo Express, the train will run from State Pier at 9:45 a.m. from Saturday, April 14, to Thursday, April 19. Tickets are $14 for ages 3 and older.
Thursday’s dinner train was $25 including hors d’oeuvres, with $5 beers and $7 wine and mixed drinks.
On Saturday, April 21, a group called the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts will run a passenger car service into the city for what could be the first time since 1967.
The train will run from Middleboro to Attleboro, then down to Taunton and Fall River. It will stop at the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Museum for a few hours before returning.
Cape Cod Central Railroad is also planning a “Polar Express”-themed train ride for Christmastime. Other dinner trains may be held, but none are currently scheduled.
Jon Delli Priscoli, the CEO of Cape Cod Central, said the company sees the new train offerings as a boost to the city’s tourism and something that can use the train tracks in addition to industrial uses.
Thursday’s run was dedicated to Richard Keane of Gold Medal Bakery, who Cape Cod Central officials said led a push to bring freight service to Gold Medal’s factory in the city’s South End.
Email Grant Welker at email@example.com