The GreatRails North American Railroad Photo Archive
Photo of The Highland & Cider River Railroad 1968
The Highland & Cider River Railroad 1968

I took this in the summer of 1968. Here's my 3-yr old son Glen inspecting the workings.

According to an entry on The Highland & Cider River Railroad was a 1/3 scale steam powered tourist line built on the grounds of Highland Orchards in Scituate, RI. This train ran from the 1950s through the late 1970s. It was powered by a steam locomotive called IWONDA 2, a 4-2-2, built by M. J. D. Benoit, based on a Baldwin design.

Update December 2015: I have been in contact with two siblings who worked on that RR during its last years, Beth Ellen and Mark DiLuglio. Mark was the engineer on that locomotive, and is himself a graduate mechanical engineer. Here's what he says:

I am so glad you emailed me. First and foremost... Thank you! What an incredible trip back for me as I look at each detail in each picture over and over. Even though I didn't start working there until 1972 I was (and am) overjoyed to look at your pictures.
The distinctly remember the last time the Iwonda 2 ran and carried passengers... it was Mother's Day 1973. I was engineer and it was mid afternoon. We had just rounded the highest point (around the boat house after the initial 'climb' from the train station) and were heading down towards the curve before the pond and the tunnel. As per procedure I started taking on water and applying the brakes as we headed down the slight incline. Suddenly (is there any other way?) there was a loud sound, the firebox door blew open, and steam started pouring out of the firebox. I noticed pressure gauge dropping rapidly and realizing the brakes were steam operated quickly wondered how rapidly we would accelerate down the hill towards the tunnel and curve and what to do. I jumped off to the right side of the engine and threw the gear lever in an attempt to put the drive wheels in reverse with whatever pressure there was remaining or at least lock them up. I then applied and held the brakes while hanging onto the side of the engine as I dug my heels into the dirt, rocks, and ties. I'm not so sure my efforts helped anything beyond bruising my heels, but we did stop just before the curve and entrance to the tunnel.
We found the culprit had been a rusty plug in the top of the crown sheet. We replaced it and had the locomotive operating later that week. On a following weekend a state inspector came by as someone had complained about the Mother's Day incident. He would not let us operate unless we had a fusible plug in place. We complied but found that after a few runs, due to the incline and boiler design (it had supposedly been rebuilt around 1970 with a higher crown sheet - after your pictures and before I started working there) the crown sheet was exposed for too long and the fusible plug would do it's job. We never came up with a solution that would pass inspection as the inspector insisted on a fusible plug. I later argued that the purpose of the fusible plug was to put out a wood or coal fire in the firebox but in the case of our Number 2 fuel oil it merely spread the hot oil around.
The owners found a replacement, a more modern 'streamlined' locomotive (along the lines of the EMD F Series with a Pontiac straight 6 and automatic transmission under the sheet metal) that would fit the 18" tracks, but it was never quite the same. Later in 1973 after the first 'oil crisis' lead to shortages and lines at the pump with gas prices of around $0.55 per gallon in 1974. Nobody wanted to drive 'all the way' to the country. Expenses soared and business dried up. It took a few years to start get back to 'normal' when the second 'gas crisis' hit in 1979 and $0.90 per gallon gasoline. Again nobody wanted to ride 'all the way' to the country. That was the final year for the train, boats, and other rides. The restaurant and apple stand continued for a while after that.
I am not sure who bought what or when. My brother had a lead (25 or 30 years ago) on the Iwonda 2 engine and caboose. With his information I was able to find the house, but the gentleman's wife said he wasn't feeling well and to come back another day. I could see the caboose outside his garage/workshop. I never did get back nor did I ever find the address that had been scribbled on a scrap of long lost paper. I still drive through the sides roads of Scituate on occasion hoping for that spark of memory, thinking this is it, this is the road... I am still waiting.
I happened on the reference to an 'unusual' boiler plate with the name MJD Benoit on As he had built the Iwonda 2, I engaged in some of the posts there which I think you may have come across.
I spotted one of the two 'River Boats' in the parking lot of a local construction company about 15 years ago and was told the owner had purchased them with plans to refinish them and put them on the lake by his house. I have not seen them since and they company has moved on.
I keep looking for related items (lots of post cards in eBay) some of which Beth has put in the book to help illustrate her story along with your photos I had come across about a year ago.

Photographed by David G. Hawkins, July, 1968.
Added to the photo archive by David Hawkins, December 21, 2014.

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