â?– don heimburger
All Aboard for an Unforgettable
or something completely out of the ordinary, a train trip over historic rails can be a memorable group event. In 2012, with noisy jet planes overhead and roads clogged with traffic, a leisurely ride on an excursion train is a unique experience that can be just the ticket for your group. Many train museums and companies offer special group accommodations; these listed below have the capacity and capability to handle small to large groups, and can tailor their equipment to special needs.
From dense woods to tall mountain peaks, these trains offer great scenery and a unique experience 18 June 2012
Durango & Silverton Railroad
ooking for a truly spectacular train ride through some of the most beautiful country in the United States, an adventure where your group can rent its own private passenger car, a train pulled by an old-fashioned, coal-fired steam locomotive? The D&S narrow gauge line, built in the 1880s, runs through the rugged Animas River Gorge to the silver mining town of Silverton, Colo., where you can lunch on a buffalo burger, shop for Native American jewelry and experience the ambience of an old Western town. Several ride options/packages are available, and groups will love the authentic sights and sounds on this 45-mile ride. The Rocky Mountains provide the backdrop to this excursion line, which twists and turns its way along the river, travels over trestles that span mountain streams and runs along precipitous gorges. (durangotrain.com)
Western North Carolina
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
rom the historic depot in Bryson City, train routes follow the Tuckasegee or Nantahala rivers, past bucolic farmland, deep forests, waterfalls and sheer rock faces near the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On the 4.5-hour Nantahala Gorge excursion, passengers can watch whitewater rafters, and the railroad offers train/raft packages. On the four-hour Tuckasegee trip, riders are momentarily enveloped in total darkness in the 836foot Cowee Tunnel, hand-dug by convicts more than 100 years ago. The trip includes a shopping/dining stop in the quaint town of Dillsboro, and The Lone Ranger saves the train from bandits on June, July and August excursions. (gsmr.com) Alberta and British Columbia
his Canadian rail tour company offers a variety of scenic excursions from Vancouver to Jasper, from Vancouver to Banff or Calgary, from North Vancouver to Whistler and from Whistler to Jasper. Just mentioning these intriguing destination cities is enough to start you packing for one of its 45 train offerings. Goldleaf and Redleaf Service are available on all routes, each with its own level of comfort and convenience. Running through the Canadian Rockies, this luxury transportation features comfortable seats, panoramic windows, onboard attendants, superior food service and commentary along the way. Groups can request a lounge car with options like LCD screens, conference tables and a hosted bar. The Rocky Mountaineer is a fivetime winner of the Worldâ€™s Leading Train Experience Award. (rockymountaineer.com)
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Chicago to Seattle or Portland
Amtrak’s Empire Builder
naugurated in 1947 as the first new postwar passenger train, the famous Empire Builder travels daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, following major portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail. From a comfortable Superliner coach or sleeping car, passengers cross Wisconsin and over the Mississippi River before arriving in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They awake the next morning on the North Dakota plains, skirting the Missouri River and continuing to the Big Sky Country of Montana and Glacier National Park area. From Spokane, travelers can go to Seattle or head down the Columbia River Gorge toward Portland. From Seattle or Portland eastward, the Empire Builder glides on its way to Chicago over the same route. Besides a dining car, the train has a special sightseeing lounge car. (amtrak.com)
Toronto to Vancouver
VIA Rail’s The Canadian
or years, rail fans having eagerly lined up to ride The Canadian, one of the world’s most popular long-haul journeys. Whether for its breathtaking landscapes, attentive service or outstanding dining, this streamlined passenger train has inspired decades of fond memories for as many as 100,000 travelers each year. Between 2010 and 2012, more than $22 million has been invested in its modernization. This trip explores cosmopolitan Toronto before heading west through the lake regions of Manitoba and the grain fields of Saskatchewan. Once in Alberta, passengers embark on a tour of the Canadian Rockies; the journey continues through some of the most spectacular areas in Western Canada en route to Vancouver. A sample rail package might include four nights onboard the train, two nights in Jasper and two nights in Vancouver. Savor meals in the train’s completely refurbished dining cars, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared by an onboard chef. (viarail.ca)
Elkins and Durbin, West Virginia
Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad
his railroad operates five distinctive passenger trains through scenic West Virginia. From April to December, the mountains and valleys come alive with the welcoming wail of train whistles from refurbished and historic locomotives that depart from the line’s Elkins and Durbin depots. D&G Valley Railroad trains roll through a potpourri of West Virginia mountain wilderness areas. Choose to chug alongside a clean mountain river and take in the sights of rolling meadows of wildflowers and sounds of a genuine steam locomotive, or climb to more than 4,000 feet in elevation behind a diesel, burrow under the mighty Cheat Mountain (via an 1,800-foot tunnel featuring an “S” curve inside) and negotiate the two sharpest main line railroad curves in the country. There’s also the Mountain Explorer dinner train for fine dining; meal/theater packages for groups of 25 are available. (mountainrailwva.com)
20 June 2012
EXPERIENCE CANADA BY TR AIN Take the train and discover Canada’s most beautiful destinations.
Or discover Maritime hospitality and amazing landscapes while enjoying friendly service on board the Ocean™.
For more information or to book travel for your group, contact: Ryan Robutka, Senior Manager, Sales & Marketing – Americas email@example.com – 604-640-3741 – viarail.ca
board the Canadian ® . In Ontario and Quebec, enjoy attentive service and special treats in Business class.
Registered trademark owned by VIA Rail Canada Inc. ™ Trademark owned by VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Discover the Rockies’ magnificent beauty while enjoying outstanding service in Sleeper Plus class on
Huntington to Hinton, WV
New River Train
he Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society sponsors the worldrenowned New River Train excursions through the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia. One of the newest national parklands, the “Grand Canyon of the East” along the New River offers breathtaking fall colors in mid to late October. During this peak autumn foliage time, the train traverses the former Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad main line from Huntington to Hinton, providing a front-row seat to some of the most stunning scenery in the East. Each excursion is a 300-mile-long roundtrip and includes about three hours in Hinton, where passengers can attend the fall festival and visit the railroad museum. Dates this year are Oct. 20-21 and 27-28. (newrrivertrain.com)
Bretton Woods, New Chicago to Seattle orHampshire Portland
Mt. Washington Cog Railway
he beauty of the mountains and the thrill of ascending the Northeast’s highest peak are just as enchanting today as they were in 1869, when Sylvester Marsh opened the world’s first mountain-climbing railroad on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. Nearly 150 years later, the Mount Washington Cog Railway continues to provide a sense of adventure and history as it carries passengers up a three-mile-long trestle and the steepest railroad tracks in North America to the 6,288-foot summit. There, visitors can take in the panoramic views, spanning the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, north into Canada and east to the Atlantic Ocean. Examining the history and memorabilia of The Cog at the Marshfield Station, where the original Old Peppersass engine is on display, or exploring the mountain’s weather and ecosystem at the summit’s Mount Washington Observatory, visitors will find plenty to keep them engaged. (thecog.com)
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
his steam train and steamboat connection is the only one of its kind in the United States. The 2½-hour journey begins at the historic 1892 Essex, Connecticut railroad station for a 12-mile, narrated roundtrip into the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. Chugging along at a leisurely pace, the steamer pulls old-fashioned vintage coaches through the quiet New England villages of Deep River and Chester, past pristine meadows and farms, and over bridges and trestles. In 2012, steamer #3025, which has been rebuilt after extensive work, will be added to the roster with #40, both 2-8-2 Mikados. Now the railroad runs two full-fledged historic steamers out of the few still remaining in the country. At Deep River Landing, passengers are escorted onto the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a 1¼-hour cruise along the Connecticut River. Upon Becky’s return, passengers board the train for the trip back to Essex Station. (essexsteamtrain.com)
22 June 2012
Begin Here. AlaskaRailroad.com/traveltrade
June 2012 23
ompleted in 1923, the Seward to Anchorage and Fairbanks Alaska Railroad today provides a vital visitor rail link between Alaskaâ€™s coast at Seward and its magnificent interior including popular Anchorage and Fairbanks. The Denali Star, the Alaska Railroadâ€™s flagship train, links Anchorage to Fairbanks with stops in Wasilla, Talkeetna and Denali Park. On this route, sparkling salmon streams and stands of birch and spruce come into view, while carpets of fireweed add dramatic purple to the landscape. The Coastal Classic Train is a local favorite that winds through the wilderness between Anchorage and Seward. A string of massive glaciers visible from the track enriches the journey. This train travels to the shores of Resurrection Bay for a convenient connection to Kenai Fjords National Park, whale watching, sea kayaking and tidewater glacier viewing. The Alaska Railroad offers many group amenities, including onboard dining options. (alaskarailroad.com)
24 June 2012
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rhaetian Railway
Train travel in Switzerland. Switzerland’s public transportation network is second to none. Explore Switzerland with a single ticket for trains, busses and boats: the Swiss Pass. Lucerne - in the heart of Switzerland. Lucerne has it all: the great transport museum, the first and the steepest cogwheel railways, a narrow-gauge panoramic train, and historic steamships on Lake Lucerne. Thanks to its attractions, its souvenir and watch shops, the impressive mountainous panorama and the nearby excursion mountains of the Rigi and Mt. Pilatus, the town is a destination for many travel groups: A train buff‘s paradise! Engadin St. Moritz UNESCO World Heritage site. The UNESCO World Heritage recognition of the high-altitude engineering wonderland through Switzerland’s Engadin Valley honors one of the most spectacular, technically innovative and harmonious narrow-gauge railways. Since the extension of the road system through these passes, the construction of the Rhaetian
Railway and the Bernina Express, which reaches as far as Veltlin, Upper Engadin has been accessible to the entire world - and people from all over the world love this valley, which delights visitors with its incomparable nature all year round. The Swiss Travel System. Just imagine - a country where travel by public transport is as exciting as it is relaxing. Whether you‘re heading for the heights, traveling from city to city or off the beaten tourist track - in Switzerland, trains, buses and boats are always ready and waiting to take you to your dream destination. With a single ticket, the Swiss Pass, you can see the most spectacular scenic splendors, enjoy unspoiled natural beauty and explore a myriad of museums. Swiss Travel System takes you on a journey through a promised land of timeless travel treasures, all with one pass.
For information on Switzerland, please visit MySwitzerland.com/steam For bookings, call Rail Source International: 1-800-551-2085 or visit www.rsiworld.com