Riding the rails in support of Toys for Tots

Final motorcar run into Lewes in memory of Michael Herholdt Sr.
November 15, 2017

It may not be the last Toys for Tots motorcar run in Sussex County, but it will definitely be the final one from Georgetown to Lewes.

A section of Delaware Coast Line Railroad track is being decommissioned, and the rails and ties will eventually be removed, making way for the Lewes-to-Georgetown pedestrian and bicycle trail. Organizers said while it's the last trip to Lewes, a section of track to Milton could be used for another run.

Railroad owner Dan Herholdt Jr. teamed up with members of the North American Railcar Operators Association Nov. 4 for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots event in memory of his father, Michael Herholdt Sr., who saved the railroad from abandonment in the 1980s.

The run ended at the Lewes library, where children were attending a special Saturday story time. In addition, The Shoreline Garden Railroad Club displayed large-scale train models inside the library.

Motorcar owners went north the following day for a run on the Wilmington & Western rail line. They collected numerous toys and $1,685 in cash for Sussex County Toys for Tots and $1,275 for the Wilmington-area toy drive, said John “Boomer” Schmidt, association member and event organizer.

Hobbyists are saving motorcars

In the past, small motorcars were used to inspect sections of track, while larger cars were used to provide track maintenance. Motorcars were replaced in the 1990s by pickup truck road-rail vehicles that have a separate set of wheels that can he lowered onto tracks.

It's now up to hobbyists to find discarded motorcars and restore them back to use. Most of the motorcars are 5 to 10 feet in length, seat two to four people and run with a lawnmower-like engine.

Motorcars have hydraulic lifts so they can be turned around on the tracks for out-and-back rides.