CONWAY — A 2.5-mile section of an old railroad in Myrtle Beach could be a tourist attraction in the future if a Pennsylvania businessman can convince Horry County and city officials.
Stephen Lane, a self-proclaimed railway history buff, recently met with a sub-committee of Horry County Council to pitch the idea of converting the old Atlantic Coast railway lines between the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge and the Myrtle Beach train depot into a business where customers could ride antique trains or streetcars.
Lane said the 45-minute round trip will end at the historic Broadway Street Train Depot in downtown Myrtle Beach, where he is offering to lease space from the city for a gift shop, restaurant and desks. The city currently uses the 85-year-old building as an event space.
Horry County owns the railroad where the proposed route is located, but the attraction would operate in Myrtle Beach, so the proposal would also need the city’s blessing.
While Lane told the subcommittee that he only had preliminary talks with Myrtle Beach city officials, he said he would not seek any funding from the county or the city at the meeting. of March 7. He will provide his own money although he declined to say how much.
Currently the owner of Allegheny Feed and Milling in North Cambria, Pa., two hours east of Pittsburgh, Lane said he went through a similar process three years ago when he looked for a way to preserve a 33-mile-long railroad that ran through His hometown.
“It took about a year and a half to do it, but we got the job done,” Lane said.
Lane said he got the idea for the Myrtle Beach business after reading an online news article about the unused railroad. He visited South Carolina three times, he said.
The attraction, according to Lane, would be the second in the state, with the South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro also in operation. He said there will be themed events such as Thomas the Tank Engine and the Polar Express.
Lane said he would start by using a lighter antique streetcar to see if he would be able to successfully run a locomotive on the existing tracks. But either way, he said he’ll have to shore up the line first to allow a train to run 10 to 15 miles per hour.
“There really wouldn’t be anything too intense about it, just a slow steam train coming out of town,” Lane said.
Prices would range from $10 to $15 for a ride and Lane told officials he hopes to average 150,000 riders after five years with an overall economic impact to the local economy of nearly $4.3 million. .
“Sounds like a great idea, I always thought they needed something like this,” said Horry County Councilor Bill Howard.