ARCADE — One hundred years in and this business is still chugging along.
In it’s centennial year, the Arcade and Attica Railroad is being recognized as the Tourism Business of the Year by the Wyoming County Chamber.
“We were of course very excited and happy,” said Amber Williams, an office manager at the railroad, about winning the award.
The railroad began in the late 19th century when businesses wanted access to Buffalo and Pennsylvania and they saw Wyoming County as the best opportunity to do so.
But it wasn’t until the early 20th century when what is known as the “Arcade and Attica Railroad” was formed.
Naturally, there were a slew of farms and companies in the area that took advantage of the Railroad. Dairy goods were shipped all over the country as was corn and other crops. The business served as a major hub for agricultural freight and passenger rails for people and goods coming and going in all directions for many years.
The Railroad in its current form didn’t come around for another few decades, though.
The tourism side of the train began in the 1960s when freight business began to slide and the owners purchased an old steam engine for entertainment use.
In the first season, the steam engine hosted thousands of visitors and that business model has carried on through today.
The Railroad today can hold up to 380 people per trip and operates multiple times a day between May and October.
It’s an experience that people travel all over to see. People have visited from states like Texas and Michigan, and even other countries like Canada and from overseas.
“It’s not only a big thing in New York and Western New York,” Williams said. “It’s incredible where people come from.”
Generations of people have worked on and ridden the Railroad and hope to continue that to the future, too.
“More than half the passengers say ‘I rode this as a kid and I had to bring my grandkids,’” Williams said. “It’s very cool that it’s a generational thing.”
Of course, though, the train is most appreciated in Wyoming County for its commitment and value within the community.
As you might imagine, being in business for 100 years is no simple task, so the company has had some ups and downs, even as a unique tourist attraction.
Williams said the past few years have been tough, but the advent of themed rides has really helped.
“We’ve added a lot more special events in past years,” Williams said. “They’re getting people excited for the train ride again.”
The train has served over 1.5 million more and hopes to top that in the next 100 years.