For as far back as I can remember the arrival of September and October meant it was pumpkin train time. My grandfather, who has gotten many mentions in this blog of mine, took his love of all things trains and a lifetime of savings and put it into creating the place of his dreams. After years in the military and a long, successful career behind him, my grandpa used his retirement as a chance to spend his time with his family doing something he loved. My grandma, uncles, mom, and all of their families came together over many years and brought the New Haven and Lake Erie railroad to life.
Each September and October people would literally line up outside the gates waiting for their chance to ride our train back to the pumpkin patch and pick out their pumpkins, gourds, and treats for the fall season. Grandpa and Uncle Greg were the engineers, grandma ran the ticket office, and myself and the rest of the family took turns doing the other jobs. Adults, children, families, school groups, and everyone in between loved the railroad and it became famous in the area.
For a little kid the place was magical. We got all the free train rides we wanted, our pick of the best pumpkins, and a woods to explore, build forts, and play make believe in. We even had our own Tarzan vine to swing on. After my grandparents passed away Uncle Greg took over the railroad, but living far from the property and having all of us scattered across various colleges and cities, and the cost of upkeep growing it became harder and harder to keep NH&LE alive. So with a heavy heart he made the decision that everyone knew was coming – it was time to let the railroad go.
Yesterday we had our last hurrah at the railroad. The big steam engine Arnold unfortunately still couldn’t run, but we had all of the other cars out. Friends and family came together to bid farewell to a place where we’d all spent so many countless hours.
It was a sad day, and I genuinely wish we all could have kept it going, but it was so nice to have the chance to have one final crisp, fall day at the railroad. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect final farewell to NH&LE railroad.