Even though Fiddles and Vittles closed several years back, Captain Bart’s didn’t open for the season, and the tourism world is drenched in “golf product,” there are still some classically Island tourist attractions — things that, by all rights, shouldn’t exist in a sensible universe, but that have delightfully squeaked through.
King’s Castle Provincial Park is one example: a free, giant children’s playground created and maintained by the Province of PEI.
The latest addition is the Elmira Miniature Railway, a new addition to the Elmira Railway Museum.
Leaving aside that the project cost $237,000, which seems, well, insane, the resulting little railway through the forest is wonderful: Oliver and I visited on Saturday, paid our fare, got our tickets, and had the train to ourselves as we sped through the wilds of rural Elmira. This is no carnival ride: there’s a mile of tracks through the woods, and the ride takes about 20 minutes to complete. It’s perfectly child-sized, and because this is PEI and not Orlando, there are no superfluous seatbelts or roll cages: you just sit in an open carriage and enjoy the ride.
This is one of those great times when political need — funnel money into Eastern Kings — results in a crazy hare-brained scheme that is probably doomed to fail (great as it is, I don’t see the railway as the key to the revitilization of Eastern PEI) but that also results in something that is actually a lot of fun, and will become, I think, a favourite destination for Island families.
My girlfriend and I stumbled upon Kings Castle this past weekend. It was almost like discovering a foreign land! We even scored a couple of Parks PEI T-Shirts for 10 bucks!
And the best part…
It’s completely free, without cost.
The miniature railway is quite a treasure — the community has been quite active in promoting and enhancing this railway museum — I hope more Islanders take the opportunity to explore the Eastern part of King’s County including Basin Head (Beach and Museum), East Point Lighthouse and see tuna being landed at North Lake.
Granted it is good for Elmira (that’s where the museum is), but it runs through a pretty uninspiring landscape compared to where Mr. Maloney had it operating on his property along the Kildare River where he had a trestle, a tunnel, several villages, and appropriately scaled landscaping — all handbuilt.
Elmira apparently hired some students to put their track down, and it shows — there isn’t a single straight section, even on the straight sections! That $200k was a lot of money for what they received in the end.