Our History

Two Great Railroads, Three Amazing Locations

The Granite State Scenic Railway in Lincoln, NH and the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad in Meredith and Weirs Beach, NH share something in common, 54 miles of historic railroad track between Tilton and Lincoln, NH that dates back to 1848 – a period in time when President Zachary Taylor resided in the White House, trains were pulled by steam locomotives and steam-powered automobiles were becoming all the rage.
During the mid-1800’s, this track  was owned by the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad.  At the time, it served as one of the primary routes north through New Hampshire for tourists making their way from cities like Boston, Hartford and New York to the pristine lakes and mountains of northern New Hampshire as well as to points further north including the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and Montreal, Canada.
In the early 1900’s the rights to the rail line were sold to the Boston & Maine Railroad who kept the line active between the Lakes Region and Lincoln, NH in support of the paper mills and other businesses that depended on passenger and freight service.  Passenger service faded as automobiles and highways became more popular in the 1950’s. Once the last of the paper mills closed for good in the mid 1970’s, freight service came to an end as well.  The rail line was then purchased by the State of New Hampshire and eventually offered for lease.
This unique opportunity caught the interest of Ed & Brenda Clark from Lincoln, NH in the mid-1980’s.  After reaching an agreement with the State of New Hampshire, the Clarks created the Hobo Railroad – a tourist railroad –  which they opened in Lincoln, NH on June 15, 1987.  The Clarks continued to operate and grow the railroad operation successfully until 2024, when Hobo Railroad joined the Patriot Rail Scenic Excursion family and was renamed Granite State Scenic Railway.  Located at 64 Railroad Street in Lincoln, NH they operate from late May through late October and again from Thanksgiving until just before Christmas.
In the early 1990’s the Clark family had a unique opportunity to operate another section of the same rail line from the State of New Hampshire along Lake Winnipesaukee.  This new lease gave the company access to the track between Tilton, NH at the south, and Lincoln, NH at the northern most end – a total distance of 54 miles.
The addition of the new opportunity allowed the Clarks to open a second tourist railroad in 1991 – the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.  With their main station located at 154 Main Street in Meredith, NH, and a satellite ticket booth located on the popular Boardwalk at 211 Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach, NH, it’s become one of the most popular attractions in the Lakes Region. Operations in Meredith and Weirs Beach begin in late May and continue through late October each year, although train rides are available on weekends-only after Labor Day.
On June 25, 2021, another rail operation opened as a member of Granite State Scenic Railway – Rail Bike Adventures! Located in the historic Laconia Railroad Station at 15 Veterans Square in Laconia, NH, Rail Bike Adventures offers 5-mile round-trip rail bike tours from downtown Laconia along Lake Winnisquam to Belmont, NH and back from early May through late October. Utilizing custom-made rail bikes that seat up to four (4) riders, Rail Bike Adventures offers guests a unique opportunity to “explore the rails” and take in the sights and sounds along the shore of New Hampshire’s 4th largest lake.
These days, The Granite State Railroad proudly belongs to the Patriot Rail Family. While the historic rail line between Tilton and Lincoln, NH, no longer moves freight as it did in the late 1800s and early 1900s, our dedicated team is committed to preserving this heritage. Today, our trains offer guests an opportunity to experience rail travel as it used to be. Instead of hauling freight along this route, modern trains allow passengers to relax and enjoy the beautiful regions of New Hampshire from the comfort of restored vintage coaches or state-of-the-art, 4-passenger rail bikes.