‘Greenport Express’ makes its public debut at Maritime Festival

10/01/2017 6:00 AM |

All aboard!

The “Greenport Express” made its public debut over the weekend in the annual East End Maritime Festival parade, where the Greenport Rotary Club put the miniature train’s locomotive and three cars on a trailer and paraded down Front Street.

“This is kind of the kickoff right here,” Rotarian Joe Cherepowich said afterward.

The Rotary plans to purchase the locomotive, three cars and about 1,500 feet of track from Rotary member Frank Field, who ran the miniature train on his Greenport property Sundays and holidays from 1985 to 2012, and build and operate a new miniature railroad on a site at Moore’s Lane. Mr. Field had agreed to sell some of his surplus equipment to the Rotary, according to Mr. Cherepowich.

Working with Greenport Village and the Railroad Museum of Long Island, the Rotary plans to restore the train and set up a track and miniature station on village-owned land on Moore’s Lane, between the skatepark and the water tower.

Mr. Cherepowich, who hopes to have the train running in about 12 months, said they now plan to begin fundraising efforts to make the “Greenport Express” a reality.

Their first event will be a kickoff fundraiser at the Hellenic Snack Bar on Main Road in East Marion on Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The project is expected to cost about $250,000, according to Mr. Cherepowich, although he said that price could be lower depending on the amount of in-kind services they get from volunteers.

The miniature train station will have ticket office, bathrooms, a mechanic’s shop and a souvenir shop.

“It’s a great spot,” Mr. Cherepowich said. “All the utilities are there for water, electricity and sewer and the players on the nearby ballfields can use the restrooms as well. There’s also plenty of parking.”

The train will be able to pull into the station under a covered roof, he said.

Since Greenport Mayor George Hubbard Jr. first announced the plan in late December, it has generated nothing but enthusiasm, Mr. Cherepowich said.

“I have not heard one negative thing about it,” he said. “Anytime there’s something on Facebook about it or in the paper, people stop me in the supermarket and say, ‘That’s a great idea. What can we do to help?’”

The Railroad Museum of Long Island also donated the use of its trailer for the Greenport parade.

“We’re honored to be assisting the Greenport Rotary in this,” said museum president Don Fisher. “It’s going to be great for the village. We celebrate it here at RMLI. We just think it’s going to be the cat’s meow for Greenport.”

The locomotive was built around 1950 and needs to be converted from six volts to 12 volts, Mr. Cherepowich said. The train was made by the Allan Herschell company, which made a similar miniature train on display at the Railroad Museum of Long Island’s Riverhead location.

That train was built in the early 1960s and used for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Queens. It went to the Grumman Corporation in Calverton after that and was acquired by RMLI in 1999, Mr. Fisher said.

The Greenport train was owned by a collector in New Hampshire before Mr. Field purchased it, Mr. Fisher said.

Each car can carry six adults or 12 children, so the Greenport Express will be able to accommodate 18 adults or 36 children at a time, Mr. Fisher said.

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Photo: Members of Greenport Rotary took its miniature train on the road Saturday for the East End Maritime Festival parade. The group hopes to set the train and its station up on Moore’s Lane. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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