Do You Remember The Short Lived Ski Train From Portland to Bethel, Maine?
On December 26, 1993, a ski train carrying passengers and their ski gear from Portland to Bethel on the way to Sunday River had its inaugural run. Unfortunately, it wouldn't last for very long.
This dedicated train ran along the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad starting in Portland with stops in Yarmouth, Auburn, and finally Bethel where passengers disembarked to board a bus that brought them the remaining six and a half miles to Sunday River. Ski equipment was loaded onto a truck and followed the bus to the resort.
The train left Portland at 6:45 a.m. and arrived in Bethel at 8:45 with the round trip just $15 for skiers and a little more for those just going along for the ride. It was the first time a ski train had run in all of New England in 40 years.
Sunday River owner Les Otten came up with the idea and purchased passenger rail cars and contracted with the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad to operate the train. It seemed like the perfect setup to get more people to the slopes.
Otten also got a sponsorship with Coors to name the train the "Silver Bullet Express" to coincide with an ad campaign they ran for a few years featuring a CGI Silver Bullet Express.
The actual train wasn't as elaborate, but it did have silver rail cars.
This video of the Silver Bullet Express shows it traveling from Portland to Bethel with some shots from inside the train and from inside the locomotive.
It was hoped that the Downeaster and the Silver Bullet Express would be able to meet with the Amtrak Downesater to transfer skiers from points south, but delays with the Downeaster service getting underway may have prevented that from ever happening.
The Silver Bullet Express only made it for four seasons with the last run in the spring of 1997.