Ride the rails in West Virginia for great scenery, adventure.
By Hope S. Philbrick
“Trains are time capsules,” says Robert Van Camp, creator and producer of Great Scenic Railway Journeys, PBS’s longest-running travel show.
Riding a train is invigorating, exciting, relaxing and more. “You don’t need a shrink,” he says. “Just get on a train.”
“There’s a mystique about trains,” he says. “They take us back to a time that none of us grew up in.”
The train travel industry is “exploding,” he says. Great news if, like Sheldon Cooper on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, you like trains. And, really, what’s not to like?
West Virginia boasts several scenic train journeys on several different historic trains and tracks. Some offer adventure, some are themed (like a Murder Mystery, dinner train or Polar Express) and all are fun.
Some of what’s in store:
- Ride the highest mainline railroad east of the Mississippi
- Navigate two of the sharpest railroad curves east of the Rocky Mountains
- Climb a grade of up to 11 percent, or 11 feet in altitude for each 100 feet of track—2 percent grade on conventional railroads is considered steep!
- Reach Bald Knob, the third highest point in West Virginia—the overlook is at an altitude of 4,700 feet
- Ride a train pulled by a steam engine
- See a logging camp with a Lidgerwood tower skidder—one of only two remaining in the world
- Climb to over 4,000 feet in a powerful diesel
- Burrow under the mighty Cheat Mountain (via an 1,800 foot tunnel featuring an “S” curve of the track inside)
- Choose a climate-controlled or an open-air ride
- …and much more!
Odds of Encountering Children: High. For the lowest odds, opt for a romantic dinner train when children aren’t allowed. 21 Plus Salute!
– Photo courtesy West Virginia Tourism
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.