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“Memorial Day”
Review of St. Marys Railroad

St. Marys Railroad
Ranked #1 of 4 Tours in St. Marys
Certificate of Excellence
Type: Rail Tours, Tours
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Reviewed May 24, 2014

We just completed the train ride and it was very uplifting. Every volunteer and actor made everyone laugh and smile. About 1 1/2 hours, passed quickly. The Memorial presentation was fantastic. Bring your camera and recording device.

1  Thank Tanya60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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75 - 79 of 92 reviews

Reviewed May 24, 2014

My family had the pleasure of taking an American Hero's railroad trip. We had a wonderful time while hero's from previous wars told their stores. This was interesting and entertaining. We had a special treat from the VFW and the USN had a flag presentation while a sailor told the story of 'Old Glory'......it was so special to see the ceremony. We look forward to going back.

2  Thank LifeIsGoodMomma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 21, 2014

A group of us went up from Jacksonville for the America's Heroes train ride, had a blast of a time rail-fanning :-)

2  Thank Steven B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2014

We took the "American Heroes" trip around Memorial Day 2014 as a treat to our elderly father who is both a retired rail employee and a WWII veteran. What a delight! The events are clearly community driven, with mostly volunteer staff, rail cars that I'm sure were built as a community project out of old flat bed trailers, and local charities running the snack booths. I believe our ride was the first for the Memorial Day series, so things were a little rocky getting started, but it just added to the character of the trip. Here are a few observations:

First, what to expect: You are arriving at the rail yard of a former paper mill (closed 10 years or so). As the railroad's primary customer, the loss of the mill left it in limbo. The nearby navy submarine base (as I understand it) felt the rail service to be critical to their needs, and supplement it's needs to keep it running. The train (that we rode on) consists of a small locomotive that I think would generally be called a 'switch' engine'. It was never designed to do 70 miles an hour between cities, and that makes it perfect for this task. There were three identical passenger cars. The seats are rough-hewn lumber where you sit facing the outside of the cars. Get a seat facing left for a better view. While the side view seemed a little strange at first, it all made sense then the train backed all the way back to the station to go home. The floor is also rough timbers, with lots of gaps and uneven spacing. Don't wear heels! It appeared that accommodations for the disabled are rudimentary at best, though the theater next door appeared to have ramps to the restrooms. Speaking of restrooms, there are none on the train, and the ride was about 1.5 hours. When you arrive, you'll need to find your way into the theater to claim your will call tickets if you ordered in advance. The process was painless, other than having to ask where to go. They began boarding the train about 15 minutes before 'go' time, and the train left right on time. The ride is a peaceful cruise, never exceeding a brisk walking speed. The tracks would be quite rough at higher speed, so the docile pace was perfect. The path winds through wooded areas, behind some residential areas where the residents enthusiastically wave. All the while the characters for the theme ride give 2-3 minute histories of who they are playing. Each had something you had never heard about before, and were well worth the listen. The train eventually stopped at clearing where we were greeted by a moving memorial day ceremony hosted by veterans and active duty personnel from area bases. The speech given by the sailor about Old Glory rumbled like thunder it was so powerful. On the return the train stopped for a few minutes on a trestle over a waterway for photo opportunities. Once back underway, our ride was interrupted one more time by a necessary car switch of some sort, but it was quick and fun to watch (tho an explanation of what was happening would have added to the experience). You never really noticed we were going 'backward'. The last 10 minutes or so those that brought tiny babies regretted that decision as they grew tired of the ride. I would put this being a positive trip for about age 6 and up when they can understand a little more about a train.
Here are some thoughts for the wonderful team that puts on a terrific show.
1. The trip we were on was nearly full (they sell up to 180 tickets per ride), so there were a lot of cars. There didn't seem to be anyone directing traffic, and several of us pulled into the wrong spot. There was no signage to speak of either.
2. Overall the strong 'local' flavor led most of the people involved to seem to forget that they had guests that didn't have idea what they were referring to (The Mill=the former paper mill that stood on the site, and the railroad served; The Base=The large nuclear submarine base that is the primary industry in town). We would have liked a little more 'briefing' as we boarded. The terrific cadre of performers went right into the 'script' about heroes, but never discussed any history of the railroad, the town, or any safety discussions. Don't get me wrong, we felt very safe, but there was some ambiguity on when we could stand, etc. Later, the familiarity of the cast led to some 'inside jokes' that left the audience a little left out.
3. The length, content, and entertainment value was all just about perfect. It was clear the planners and performers had all worked very hard on their parts, and wanted to make it 'special'. They very much succeeded in that goal.
4. In terms of scope, the extra work I saw going on to get the audio going was well worth it. I was impressed that the people at the 'stage' at the end of the ride were also mic'ed up to the train-borne system. I'm a little hard of hearing, but I found it simply way too loud throughout. The emcee was terrific, and clearly experienced, but his booming voice was painful at times. I would encourage the hard working sound crew to get some guest feedback early in the ride. Our elderly father who hears little expressed that it was a bit loud for him as well.
5. Closing - Again, it seemed that the show 'ended' just before we got to the station. There really needed to be a 'close' that included egress instructions. Might I suggest that (like many airlines do now) you ask everyone to remain seated while vets and uniformed military depart first.
6. Promoting tourism - There was a nice effort to encourage people to visit the local area, but again it felt like a 'local talking to locals'. There was discussion of 'come on downtown, take the ferry to 'the island' (I knew what they meant, but many didn't). I would think maybe offering a trolley downtown would be beneficial for all.
All and all the trip was a terrific outing, including my grandson getting to ride on a real train with his great grandfather. We had a wonderful, pleasant morning and look forward to coming back for another ride soon. We wish the effort much success!

1  Thank zjxtinpusher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2014

My family and I enjoyed the train ride!! We have been on several rides over the last several months and always enjoy it. The actors are excellent, and the history shared is always a joy.

1  Thank mrivera1017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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