Edaville traces its roots to the late 1930s, and early 1940’s when cranberry grower Ellis D. Atwood of South Carver, Massachusetts discovered the two-foot narrow gauge railroads of Maine. He made frequent visits to these little roads and watched them go out of business one by one due to the ongoing great depression. When the Bridgton & Saco River RR was sold for scrap in the fall of 1941, Mr. Atwood stepped in and purchased as much of the remaining rolling stock as he could. He constructed a railroad around his 1800-acre plantation for the sole purpose of hauling cranberries to the screenhouse and supplies to the bogs. With the onset of World War II, Mr. Atwood had to wait to move his new railroad (which he was to call the Bridgton & Saco River) until the war was over.
With the war’s end, Mr. Atwood moved all of his 2-foot gauge railroad equipment to South Carver, started rebuilding it, and laid the tracks around his bogs. April 1947, Mr. & Mrs. Atwood held a golden spike ceremony, marking the railroad’s completion. Early on, the Atwoods would offer train rides for free to friends and interested parties, even though the original intent of the railroad was to haul freight. They soon found that the historic train rides through the beautiful cranberry country were very popular and began offering them on a regular schedule. Mr. Atwood also changed his mind about the name of the new railroad, choosing Edaville Railroad, using his initials. The slogan ‘Cranberry Belt Line’ was adopted and used in those early years. Christmas became the most popular time of year as folks from all over New England would come to ride the historic trains and see the lights.
Unfortunately, in the early ’50s, Mr. Atwood died from a furnace explosion on site. However, the railroad would continue to run, overseen by his wife Elthea and her nephew, until another distant relative of the Atwoods purchased it. Nelson Blount, a successful businessman and railroad fan, kept Edaville going and growing until his untimely death from a plane crash in the late 1960s. His business manager and childhood friend Fred Richardson kept Edaville Railroad running until purchased by George Bartholomew in the early 1970s. George operated the railroad until the early 1990s, when Edaville closed, and much of the original railroad equipment was returned to Maine. Edaville reopened in the late 1990s, with Jon Delli-Priscoli and Brenda Johnson leading the way, adding more attractions, rides, and railroad equipment.
In 2022 Edaville operations were transferred to a new locally run operating team. This team intends to advance the Edaville customer experience while upholding its deep history and traditions for future generations. We plan to use steam locomotives on our trains as much as possible, giving a rare experience as the only currently operating steam locomotives in Massachusetts.
The current steam engine, Edaville #11 was built in 1925 by HK Porter company for the Raritan Copper Works in Perth Amboy New Jersey. This steam engine was on static display at Edaville until the early 1990s. Many visitors to Edaville have relayed their stories of climbing on this engine as children.
Originally three-foot gauge, #11 was regauged to two-foot gauge and rebuilt for Edaville by Maine Locomotive & Machine Works. Aside from regauging, ML&M built this engine a new boiler to ASME code standards and built a tender to carry coal and water behind it.
#21: built by Hudswell-Clarke of Leeds England, 1936, undergoing restoration.