BROWNVILLE, Maine — After nearly two years of hard work, snowmobile enthusiasts were celebrating in Brownville on Saturday.
The New Brunswick Southern Railway/Eastern Maine Railway and Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway gave their permission for snowmobile crossings on the Wildwoods Trail. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Saturday on the New Brunswick Southern Railway line.
The crossing, located on a new trail which connects Schoodic Lake to Route 11, was constructed to get snowmobilers off the camp roads and the lake, which freezes later than most lakes, according to Cheri Szidat, co-owner of Wildwoods Trailside Cabins, Lodge and Restaurant in Brownville.
“This was a collective effort by four snowmobile clubs to promote a quality, safe trail system,” Szidat said Saturday. The Milo, Jo-Mary, Ebeemee and Brownville snowmobile clubs participated in the project.
Szidat said to complete the trail, the clubs had to get permission from both railroads, which was quite an undertaking.
While American railroads require a $1 million liability insurance policy for snowmobile crossings, New Brunswick Southern Railway/Eastern Maine Railway requires a policy of between $5 million and $10 million, according to Szidat. Since Szidat and the clubs had worked for nearly two years on the project, the railroad grandfathered the liability amount to $3 million.
It took many calls and e-mails to find a company that would insure the crossing, and the cost was hefty, Szidat said. In addition to the $2,700 for the policy, the project included $750 requested from the railroad for documentation and annual fees, the purchase of the timbers and the installation cost.
To raise those funds, Szidat said, club members and the Schoodic Pirates, a close-knit group of snowmobilers who have camps on Schoodic Lake, held a fall festival at Wildwoods.
“The worst part of it is we got the money in September but it took us until November 11 to secure the insurance policy,” Szidat said.
Then the clubs encountered a lengthy wait for the contract from New Brunswick Southern Railway/Eastern Maine Railway until Sen. Douglas Thomas, R-Ripley, intervened on their behalf.
The new trail is definitely a boost for the region, according to Szidat.
“If someone rides on a trail and it’s an enjoyable ride, they’re going to come back,” she said. And when they do come back, they get their gasoline at the local station, dine at local restaurants and stay in local lodges, she added. “This trail provides that enjoyable ride.”
CORRECTION: This story previously referred to permissions needed from railroad companies incorrectly. Certain permissions were required from New Brunswick Southern Railway/Eastern Maine Railway.