Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

About Us

The Train Ride

A trip on the Downeast Scenic Railroad not only takes you back to a time of elegant travel in lovingly restored rail cars but also travels through a truly beautiful part of Maine.

From canopied forest where the light sparkles through the treetops as chickadees and nuthatches bounce from limb to limb to open marshland where beavers, herons, turtles, and moose might be seen, the restored section of the Calais Branch Line gives you a view not seen since the wealthy rusticators traveled from the cities to their summer homes on the line.

You travel over bridges, roll past schools and houses, hear the clack of the rails muffle on the thick woodland moss, and delight in the sound of the horn at the crossing. Watch as the powerful engine moves from the front to the back of the train to take you to Washington Junction rail yard, where you can see the heavy equipment that keeps the rail running and pass train components and cars currently being restored for use on the Downeast Scenic Railroad, before coming back to the Ellsworth depot.

On the way, be sure to look for the nests of the giant osprey and the big beaver hutches in the wetlands! Enjoy exceptional views of wetland marshes, glacial erratic including massive boulders, and river and stream crossings. While traveling and working on this stretch of the line, we have also observed many forms of wildlife, including blue herons, bald eagles, moose, deer, snapping turtles, and even bears!

The current traveling time is roughly 1h and 45 minutes and traverses a 6-mile section of the restored railroad, a 12 mile round trip.

At the core of the Downeast Scenic Railroad Project is the rehabilitation of the Washington Junction/Ellsworth to Green Lake section of the Calais Branch Line to create a 24-mile round-trip excursion ride. Other project components include the construction of storage/repair facility at Washington Junction.

downeast train

Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust

The mission of the Trust is to celebrate and preserve the railroad history of Downeast Maine. Our immediate and primary goal is to develop the Downeast Scenic Railroad for the education, enlightenment, and enjoyment of future generations.

“There are very few heritage railroad projects—new or existing—which have the strengths and potential that the Downeast Scenic Railroad has.” John Hankey, Former Curator, B & O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.

Analysis of the DRHPT’s potential by Stone Consulting, Inc. shows that upon the start of full operations from Ellsworth to Green Lake, the Downeast Scenic Railroad is projected to:

  • Generate $5M per year for the local economy
  • Create approximately 200 combined direct and indirect jobs
  • Become self-sustaining after the second year of full operations
  • Have ridership totals of approximately 72,000 people per year

The Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. All donations to the DRHPT are tax-deductible to the extent the law allows. Our office is located in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust, Inc., does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.