At the turn of the 20th century, the island’s transportation system was reliant on carriages, boats and bicycles. When automobiles began appearing, Bermuda had a decision to make. Stable owners were definitely against these noisy, new-fangled contraptions, which would scare their horses; but so were visitors, who’d come to our idyllic “Isle of Rest” to escape the hustle and bustle. In fact, two famous American visitors, Mark Twain and Woodrow Wilson, actually started a petition in 1908 to encourage the Bermuda Parliament to ban the motorcar. It worked.
And so it was that, as Bermuda’s resident population and tourism industry grew, the island began to struggle with transport. By 1924, a decision was made to build a train system, and the 22-mile track was finished in 1931, complete with over 30 bridges and trestles. The Bermuda Railway Company trains carried passengers across the island until 1948. By then, the lifting of the motorcar ban in 1946 and the train’s high operating expenses made it an untenable enterprise.
Forty years later, the Government of Bermuda transformed the former route of the railway trains into a hiking and cycling path, closed to motor vehicles and known as the Bermuda Railway Trail. In the past few years, funds raised by a new charitable initiative called Friends of the Bermuda Railway Trail have built bridges and new paths to connect trail segments. It’s a unique outdoor experience that shouldn’t be missed.
You can pick up the trail in several spots in most parishes. Ask for a Railway Trail map at any of the Visitor Information Centres or from your hotel concierge. Highlighted with special markers and peppered with informative signage along the way, you’ll walk along the gorgeous coastline, into isolated lush areas and past historic old train stations. The trail also goes near several attractions, beaches and restaurants, so detour off to visit a fort or lighthouse, go for a swim and get a bite to eat before continuing your adventure. Whenever you’re ready to call it a day, you’re never far from the main road where you can pick up a bus or taxi.
Armed with your map, water, sun-screen and some comfortable shoes, get ready to explore Bermuda in a whole new way. For more information, visit bermudarailway.net.