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Bigger than you would think

By June 4, 2018Features

By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor

For some time I’ve been beating the drum to argue that railway preservation in North America is now an honest-to-goodness industry with a real economic impact. In a previous post and a TRAINS Magazine article I estimated that the industry spends $400 million a year. I’ve since upped that estimate to $500 million. And that’s just straight expenditures.

HeritageRail Alliance has hired Stone Consulting to estimate the economic impact of railway preservation. That goes beyond direct expenses to quantify suppliers’ salaries, hotel and food purchased  by passengers and other ripples into the local economy. It will certainly reach $1 billion and probably more.

This post contains another indicator of the industry’s size–route miles. By conventional railroading’s definition, tourist railroads and museums are short lines. By my count, 216 of them own or lease railroads and operate trains. Add all those route miles together and they total 2734 miles. That’s the equivalent a good sized regional railroad.

But aren’t tourist railroads just the frosting on the cake, with freight really keeping the railroad alive? In some cases that’s true, but only 28 percent of that mileage is shared with freight trains. The rest exists solely to carry railway preservation passengers.

The table gives the detailed breakdown. The right-hand column shows the miles shared with freight service.

When you start to think about economic impact, tourist railroads and museums tend to have different profiles. The amount of rolling stock and train starts at most tourist railroads resemble traditional freight short lines, with the exception of large operations like White Pass & Yukon, Durango & Silverton, Grand Canyon and Strasburg. Because museums are in the business of preservation and restoration, they tend to have more operational pieces of rolling stock per route mile. Consider Illinois Railway Museum and Shore Line Trolley Museum, for example. The more pieces that are restored and kept in operating condition, the greater the economic impact.

At some point we should compile a roster of active rolling stock, but for now, check out these route miles.

Tourist Railway & Museum Route Miles
State/ Province Route Miles Shared with freight
Alberta Railway Museum AB 5
Alberta Prairie Ry. Excursions AB 24
Aspen Crossing AB 14
Edmonton Radial Railway AB 2
Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum AB 5.5
Heritage Park Historical Village AB 1
White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad AK 67.5
North Alabama Railroad Museum, Inc. AL 5
Eureka Springs & North Arkansas AR 2
Fort Smith Trolley Museum AR 1
Grand Canyon Railway AZ 65
Verde Canyon AZ 38
Alberni Pacific BC 6
BC Forest Discovery Center BC 1.5
Fort Steele Heritage Town BC 1
Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society BC 3 3
Kamloops Heritage BC 3 3
Kettle Valley Steam Ry. BC 6
Nelson Tramway BC 1
West Coast Railway Association BC 1
California State Railroad Museum CA 3
California Trolley & Railroad Corp. CA 1
California Western CA 40
Fillmore & Western Railway CA 18
Napa Valley Wine Train CA 25
Orange Empire Railway Museum CA 2
Pacific Locomotive Association CA 9
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum CA 6
Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad, Inc. CA 34
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park CA 3
Roaring Camp & Big Trees NG  RR CA 7
Sacramento River Train CA 19
Sierra Railroad Company CA 10 10
Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources CA 0.5
Western Pacific Railroad Museum CA 1
Western Railway Museum CA 5
Western Railway Museum CA 5
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad CA 2
Colorado Railroad Museum CO 1
Cripple Creek & Victor CO 2
Durango & Silverton NG Railroad CO 45.2
Fort Collins Municipal Railway CO 1
Georgetown Loop CO 3
Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad CO 11
Manitou & Pike’s Peak Cog RR CO 9
Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation CO 0.1
Platte Valley Trolley CO 1
Pueblo Railway Museum CO 0.2
Rio Grande Scenic CO 108 108
Royal Gorge Route Railroad CO 12
Connecticut Electric Railway Assn. CT 1.5
Danbury Railway Museum CT 1
Railroad Museum of New England CT 19.6
Shore Line Trolley Museum CT 1.5
Valley Railroad Co. CT 7
Wilmington & Western Railroad DE 10
Florida Railroad Museum FL 6.5
Gold Coast Railroad Museum FL 1
Tavares, Eustis & Gulf FL 10
Blue Ridge Scenic GA 13
Roundhouse Railroad Museum (Savannah) GA 0.5
SAM Shortline GA 45 45
Southeastern Railway Museum GA 0.5
St. Marys Railroad GA 10 10
Stone Mountain Scenic GA 5
Hawaiian Railway Society HI 6.5
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad IA 7.5
Midwest Electric Ry. IA 1
Midwest Old Threshers IA 1
Alder Gulch Shortline ID 1.5
Fox River Trolley Museum IL 2
Illinois Railway Museum IL 6
Monticello Railway Museum IL 12.5
Silver Creek & Stephenson IL 1.7
Hesston Steam Museum IN 1
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, Inc. IN 10
Indiana Railway Museum IN 31
Nickel Plate Heritage RR IN 12.4
Whitewater Valley Railroad IN 19
Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad KS 5
Midland Historical Railway Association KS 10
Big South Fork Scenic Railway KY 8
Bluegrass Railroad Museum KY 5
Kentucky Railway Museum KY 11
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train KY 16 16
Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum MA 5
Cape Cod Central MA 23
Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum MA 0.5
Prairie Dog Central MB 18
B & O Railroad Museum MD 2
Baltimore Streetcar Museum MD 0.5
National Capital Trolley Museum MD 1
Walkersville Southern MD 4
Western Maryland Scenic MD 16
Boothbay Railway Village ME 1
Downeast Scenic Railroad ME 5
Maine Narrow Gauge Museum ME 2
Seashore Trolley Museum ME 1
Wiscasset, Watervill e& Farmington Railway Museum ME 3
Coopersville & Marne MI 7
Greenfield Village MI 1
Huckleberry MI 4
Little River MI 4
Michigan Transit Museum MI 1
Southern Michigan MI 11
Toonerville Trolley MI 5
Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad MN 5 1
Minnesota Streetcar Museum MN 1.5
Minnesota Transportation Museum (Jackson Street Roundhouse). MN 0.5
North Shore Scenic MN 27
Minnesota Transportation Museum (Osceola & St. Croix Valley). MN/WI 15 15
Western Steam Threshers MN 2
Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad MO 2.5
Branson Scenic MO 20 20
Museum of Transportation MO 0.5
Craggy Mountain NC 3
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad NC 53
North Carolina Railway Museum NC 5
North Carolina Transportation Museum NC 1
Tweetsie Railroad, Inc. NC 1
Fort Lincoln Trolley ND 4.5
Conway Scenic Railroad NH 50
Hobo/Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads NH 54
Mount Washington Cog RR NH 3
Black River & Western NJ 5 5
Cape May Seashore Lines NJ 15 15
Delaware River RR NJ 7
New Jersey Museum of Transportation NJ 0.5
Whippany Railway Museum NJ 5 5
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR NM 64
Santa Fe Southern NM 18
Nevada Northern NV 32
Nevada Southern NV 6
Virginia & Truckee Railroad Co. NV 21
Adirondack Scenic NY 120 25
Arcade & Attica NY 7 7
Catskill Mountain Railroad Co., Inc. NY 3
Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley NY 8
Delaware & Ulster NY 12
Medina Railroad Museum NY 17 17
New York Museum of Transportation NY 1
Trolley Museum of New York NY 2
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic OH 47
Hocking Valley Scenic OH 11
Lebanon Mason Monroe OH 5 5
Northern Ohio Railway Museum OH 0.5
Ohio Railway Museum OH 1
Oklahoma Railway Museum OK 3
Elgin County Railway Museum ON 0.5
Halton County Radial Railway ON 1
Huntsville & Lake of Bays Railway Society ON 1
Port Stanley Terminal ON 15
South Simcoe Railway ON 4
York-Durham Heritage Railway ON 12
Mount Hood OR 22 22
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad OR 40
Oregon Electric Railway Museum OR 1
Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration OR 5
Willamette Shore Trolley OR 6
Allentown & Auburn PA 4
Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society PA 5 5
Colebrookdale Railroad PA 8.6
Electric City Trolley Museum PA 5
Everrett Railroad PA 5 5
Kiski Junction PA 5 5
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway PA 8 8
Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society PA 3
Middletown and Hummelstown PA 5 5
New Hope & Ivyland PA 12
Oil Creek & Titusville PA 13
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum PA 2
Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine PA 0.75
Railways to Yesterday (Rockhill Trolley) PA 1.5
Reading & Northern PA 70 70
Steam Into History PA 18
Steamtown National Historic Site PA 53 53
Stewartstown PA 2
Stourbridge Line Rail Excursions PA 9
Strasburg Rail Road PA 4 4
Tioga Central PA 12 12
Wanamaker Kempton & Southern, Inc. PA 3
West Chester PA 8 8
Exporail QU 1
Train Charlevoix QU 69
South Carolina Railroad Museum SC 5
Black Hills Central Railroad SD 10
Prairie Village Herman & Milwaukee RR SD 2
Southern Prairie SK 25
Tennessee Central Railway Museum TN 108 108
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum TN 85 85
Three Rivers Rambler TN 5.5 5.5
Austin Steam Train Associetion TX 35 35
Grapevine Vintage Railroad TX 21 21
Historic Jefferson TX 2
McKinney Avenue Transit Authority TX 3
Museum of the American Railroad TX 0.5
Texas State Railroad TX 25
Golden Spike National Monument UT 0.5
Heber Valley Railroad UT 15
Green Mountain VT 13 13
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum WA 15
Chelatchie Prairie WA 3
Issaquah Trolley WA 1
Lake Whatcom WA 3
Mount Ranier Scenic WA 8
Northwest Railway Museum WA 5
Yakima Valley Trolleys WA 5
Chippewa ValleyMotorcar Assn. WI 9
East Troy Electric RR WI 7
Laona & Northern WI 2.5
Mid-Continent Railway Museum WI 4
Nationa Railroad Museum WI 1
Wisconsin Great Northern WI 9
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park WV 10
Durbin & Greenbrier Valley WV 135
Potomac Eagle WV 20
Total 2733.6    774.5

 

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