Sunday, June 1, 2014

Service Change: Bermuda, Part 3 - The Sea Express and the Bermuda Railway Trail

This is the final post on Bermuda, then we'll head back to Boston. If you're wondering about why posts have been so infrequent, it's because I have an algebra final coming up and have been working hard for that. In two weeks there should be more frequent posts. Also, this one will be mostly pictures, just because they mostly speak for themselves.
I wanted to take some form of ferry at some point during the trip, but it turns out that the one that goes to St. George's is "seasonal." All hope seemed to be lost, but no! There was a single ferry trip operating because of an event in St. George's that would take people attending back to the Dockyard! Well, we had to ride that. And we wanted to do some of the Railway Trail, too. Taking the ferry to Dockyard then taking the bus to Somerset is faster than doing the entire journey by bus.

Unfortunately, there was a cruise ship docked at the ferry terminal, so the boat was leaving on the other side of town. That's not a long walk, but we barely made it anyway. Fares on the ferries are exactly the same as the buses - there's even a fare slot right on the boat.

The massive cruise ship that was taking up the dock.
This is where the ferries usually leave.
And the entrance.
Hahahahahahaha.
The ferry, looking very crowded.
The inside was very luxurious.
The outdoor seating on the second deck was less comfortable.
A view of St. George's.
An area close to town.
That weird sunken ship seen previously in Part 1.
A buoy sneaks into the picture.
The boat has to go through a tiny cut to get out of St. George.
Fort St. Catherine.
Somewhere...
Somewhere else...
Another fort. I don't know the name of this one.
A big cruise ship.
The bathroom was actually kinda nice! That's a first.
The outside.
Another view of the inside.
This one doesn't have the great pun...
The ferry at Dockyard.
Sorry there's not much written content on the ferry, it's just that there's not much to talk about that's not already explained in the pictures.

In 1908, motor cars were actually banned in Bermuda. People needed a way to get around, because the horse-drawn carriages were way too slow and potentially dangerous. There had been proposals for a railway since 1899, and finally the building started in 1924 for one from Somerset to St. George's via Hamilton. Progress was extremely slow, though, mostly because landowners didn't want to sell their property for the railway. This meant that much of the track was laid on bridges, and even then there were still a number of "privilege halts" as compensation for building on people's land.

By 1930, only three miles of track had been laid, but the rest of the single-track line (there was a number of passing loops, though) was ready, and complete in late 1931. It was the most expensive railway per mile in the world at the time. The railway ended up being very useful during World War II - 1945 saw the highest amount of ridership in any year (1.5 million people), but even then the operator didn't make a profit.

In 1946, motor cars came back, which was one of the factors of the demise of the railway. The bus system was also created in this year. And when consulting engineers from New York surveyed the railway system, it was found that it was in very poor condition. To get it up to snuff would cost $850,000 (nearly $11 million in today's money). This was much too expensive, especially since the operator never made a penny, and thus, the last train ran on May 1, 1948.

A train in Hamilton.
Image Source
The railway has since been converted to a trail, and we did the section from Somerset Bridge to Barnes Corner. Once again, the pictures pretty much speak for themselves.

I'm not a nature photographer by any means, but this crow we saw was just dying to get its picture taken.
The remains of the old Somerset Bridge.
The view from the current Somerset Bridge.
A very leafy area.
Somerset Bridge again.
A beautiful cutting.
The former White Hill station building.
This is the little-known Bench Station. It's still in remarkably good condition.
Some sort of army base? If the signs are to judge, it seems we'll never find out.
Another rocky cutting.
A huge farm.
And again.
Another cutting.
You can't really tell how close to the ground these telephone wires were.
Nice view.
An old buttery, which was used to store food.
Another view.
A leafy area.
And another.
Another.
People wrote messages on this plant, interestingly.
That top one is both disturbing and grammatically incorrect.
The former Evans Bay Station.
Yet another cutting.
Another little-known station, Bench Station, can be seen on the right.
A beautiful view.
The remains of Franks Bay Trestle.
And again, from a different angle.
These signs mark the trailheads. This is in St. George's.
The former St. George's Station, now a beauty salon.
The former Somerset Terminal, now a bus station (this was taken from the bus).
Even if you're not interested in railways (although if you're not, you should probably find another blog), the Bermuda Railway Trail still makes for a nice walk. It lets you see the part of Bermuda that's not along the main roads - the quiet and beautiful suburban and rural areas. But you should probably do it in stages; the whole thing is over 20 miles!

So, this concludes the trip to Bermuda. A Boston-related post will come out at some point, but again, I'll be posting infrequently until the algebra final's done. See you next time.

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