Edaville Railroad Gets New Operators

Brian Fanslau and Shervin B. Hawley are the new operators of the iconic narrow gauge railroad. Edaville 3 (Really Monson Railroad 3) and 11 are seen in April of this year leading an excursion for Edaville’s 75th-anniversary celebration. Photo Courtesy of Maine Locomotive & Machine Works. 

Edaville Railroad Gets New Operators

By Justin Franz 

SOUTH CARVER, Mass. — Massachusetts’ Edaville Railroad has new operators and will be running steam excursions this holiday season. 

Earlier this year, owner Jon Delli Priscoli announced that he was putting the 2-foot gauge railroad up for sale. This month, the railroad announced that two new people were coming to take over the operation: Shervin B. Hawley, managing partner of Sudbury, Mass., and Brian Fanslau, operations partner of Alna, Maine. Fanslau also runs Maine Locomotive & Machine Works, which rebuilds locomotives and cars and has done extensive work with narrow gauge equipment. 

While some serious railfans might dismiss the attraction, officially called the Edaville Family Theme Park, as nothing more than an amusement park ride, they would be sorely mistaken. Edaville was founded by Ellis D. Atwood in 1947 after he had purchased all of the equipment he could find from the recently defunct Maine two-footers. Initially, Atwood planned to use the narrow gauge trains to serve his extensive cranberry bog operations, but people kept showing up asking for rides. By the 1950s, Edaville had turned into a full-fledged tourist railroad. The railroad operated until the 1990s when the equipment returned home to Maine to form the core of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum. In 1999, Delli Priscoli reopened the park after leasing it from the Atwood family. A few years later he purchased the entire park. The railroad currently has 18 passenger cars and two steam locomotives. 

The pandemic kept the railroad closed for most of 2020 and 2021. It reopened in November and December 2021 for its annual Christmas Festival of Lights excursions and again for a weekend this past April to celebrate its 75th anniversary. As part of that event, one of the original Edaville locomotives, Monson Railroad 0-4-4T 3, returned to South Carver. 

Fanslau tells Railfan & Railroad that they plan on operating this November and December for the lights festival and they’re currently in talks with Maine Narrow Gauge about having Monson 3 partake in that. What the 2023 season will look like is unknown at this point, but Fanslau said he’s optimistic that Edaville has some bright years ahead. While the amusement park will still be a big draw, Fanslau said he hopes to put a bigger emphasis on the railroad and bring Edaville back to its roots. 

“Our goal is to keep Edaville going for a long time,” he said. 

For more information, visit Edaville.com


This article was posted on: August 26, 2022