BELFAST, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On a track usually reserved for train traffic, pedals are on the metal.
Unlike the locomotives that run on the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad, railcycles are tadum bikes built for train tracks, and they're powered by two people and their muscles. They move along the four and a half mile stretch from Belfast to Waldo without disturbing the surroundings.
Tour leaders say railcycles allow you to slowly experience some of the beauty that Maine has to offer while also getting in a good work out. There’s a two percent uphill grade when you leave City Point Station in Belfast, but the downhill trip back is a breeze.
“That’s when you throw your hands out and scream," says railcycle guide James Thomas. "It’s really fun!”
Thomas says the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad is the only place in Maine where you can experience a railcycle excursion. The track remains train-less for those trips, but not all the time.
“A lot of people are under the impression that the railroad is closed, it’s shut down, and it is not," says Joe Kelley, station agent for the railroad.
Since 2009, Brooks Preservation Society has run the trains on this stretch.The railroad carries kids and families all summer, and also into the fall for special foliage trips through Waldo County. It’s an all-volunteer non-profit group, and proceeds from the train trips like these, and from the newly added railcycle tours, fund the maintenance of the equipment and railroad infrastructure. Necessary, since these tracks have seen continuous action for almost a century and a half.
Kelly says Civil War hero and former Maine Governor Joshua Chamberlain put pen to paper 150 years ago to establish the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad in 1867. It opened three years later, and has been keeping Mainers smiling ever since.
“We think that people will come up, they’ll see the cycles, take a ride on those, be exhausted after the ride, and come back and take a ride on the train to relax. We think we’ll derive some benefits as a result of both programs.”
For a complete schedule of events happening to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad charter, visit brookspreservation.org.