PORTLAND, Maine — The Narrow Gauge Railroad is staying put in Portland.
The railroad, which was planning to move to Gray, has decided to stay put in Portland and make some big changes.
The railroad company and museum, founded in 1992 with a mission to educate and preserve a part of the city's history, is now more popular than ever.
"Over the last six years, we've grown in ridership from 23,000 to 25,000 to 60,000," Executive Director Wesley Heinz says.
The railroad was being uprooted as part of re-development to the area of 58 Fore Street on the Eastern Waterfront.
The non-profit's original plan was to recreate the railroad in Gray, but there was an issue.
"The permitting for wetlands zoning was going to be prohibitive to us to do what needed to do," Heinz said. So, they started thinking outside the box, which meant staying in Portland.
The plan now, which will be paid for through fundraising, is to relocate the train's storage facility to the end of the track near the East End Treatment facility, to rebuild and move some of the tracks a few steps closer to the water and build a station, something they're never had before.
"We're really excited about having a whole new interaction with the public."
"So much of what we do today is on social media -- always go, go, go," said Heinza. "And for one hour, we get to bring you aboard the train, capture your attention and we can slow down time just for a little bit."
Roger Merrow is an engineer and long time volunteer with the Narrow Gauge Railroad.
"I'm a volunteer, but I would probably pay to do it," Merrow said.
Merrow's grandfather, father and two uncles worked for Maine Central Railroad. He loves trains and the Narrow Gauge's location in Portland.
"Beautiful scenery around the water. We get people all over the world. I love talking to people."
The passengers love it all.
Melkie Boylon and her four-year-old twin sons were on the train. They're visiting Maine from Washington, D.C.
"The boys at this age are crazy about trains and planes and all transportation," Boylon said, "so we thought it would be a great idea to ride along. It's a beautiful view."
Boylon's son, Ernest, said he liked how the train goes "choo-choo."
"I'd like to be a conductor," his brother, Francis, added.
Heinz is excited about the railroad's future.
"We want people to be able to experience, whether it's the Polar Express, whether it's the pumpkin train or the ice cream train -- we want to be able to give them the full experience."
The Narrow Gauge Railroad will be selling 20 thousand tickets this year for their popular Polar Express ride. That is their biggest fundraiser of the year. Those tickets will go on sale at the end of August.
The fundraising effort is underway to pay for the project. If you're interested in making a donation, you can click here.