Posts Tagged ‘excursion trains’

In Search of Keystone State Steam: 1

November 1, 2016


First in a series

Over the Columbus Day weekend, Ed and Ursula Ribinskas drove to Pennsylvania in search of steam.

The highlight of the trip would be seeing Reading Blue Mountain & Northern No. 425, a 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotive build by Baldwin in January 1928.

The 425 departs from the R&N headquarters city of Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, and takes passengers on a two-hour trip to Jim Thorpe, where it lays over for three hours.

The locomotive was built in Pennsylvania for the Gulf, Mobile & Northern, later renamed Gulf, Mobile & Ohio.

Retired in 1950, No. 425 had a series of owners until it was purchased by Andrew J. Muller Jr., to pull excursion trains on the RBM&N.

Muller later painted the locomotive dark blue, in part because the Reading once had a dark blue steamer of its own.

The 425 was out of service between 1997 and 2008 during which time it underwent restoration. It also underwent repairs in 2011 and 2012.

Ed and Ursula chased the 425 on one of its trips, getting it at Zehners, Haucks, Atlas, Nesquehoning and the Pennsylvania Route 93 tunnel.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas












Hoosier Southern Leasing Passenger Cars

August 9, 2016

The Hoosier Southern Railroad is preparing to offer excursion train service using passenger cars that it has leased from the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

IndianaThe excursion being sponsored by Scenic Lincoln Way, a non-profit tourism advocacy group based in southern Indiana.

The cars involved are coach No. 664, Fort Oglethorpe, a former Central of Georgia car; coach No. 663, a former Central of Georgia car; and No. 543, a St. Louis Car built for Southern Railway express service in 1943.

The cars have been idle since the Tennessee tourist railroad suspended its 2016 season earlier this year.

The 25-mile Hoosier Southern is based in Tell City, Indiana, and owned by the Perry County Port Authority.

ITM Excursion Trains Still Not Operating

July 1, 2016

The Indiana Transportation Museum has yet to launch its summer excursion train schedule, continuing to be mired in the aftermath of a dispute between the museum’s current administration and group of seven volunteers who have filed various complaints about alleged improprieties in operations and finances.

The museum, based in Noblesville, runs excursions on a 37-mile former Nickel Plate Road route that is owned by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.

Indiana Transportation MuseumAside from weekend trips, the ITM also operates shuttle trains to the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis in August.

An online report by Trains magazine said the museum is still awaiting permission from the port authority to use its tracks.

ITM chairman Jeffrey Kehler told Trains that the museum has completed all paperwork required by the authority and hopes to get approval to resume excursions no later than July 11, which is when the port authority’s board will next meet.

Port authority executive director Rhonda Klopfenstein said her agency is still reviewing information provided by the museum as to the condition of the railroad and ITM’s operating plans.

In the meantime, the Indiana attorney general’s office is looking into the complaints filed by the volunteers and the Federal Railroad Administration said it is reviewing the museum’s operations. However, an FRA spokesperson said the FRA’s inquiry is not an investigation.

Kehler in a statement issued in June termed the allegations made by the volunteers as false.

The volunteers in turn have characterized Kehler’s statement as false and misleading. They have also claimed that their dismissal was illegal and contrary to the museum’s own rules.

ITM suspended excursion operations in March and it is not clear how soon it could get back into operation once it receives the go ahead from the port authority.

Kehler told Trains that museum workers were unable to undertake the annual spring weed spraying, brush removal and spot track repairs.

Not being able to operate excursions has cost the museum ticket revenue, which it needs to survive. Kehler acknowledged that the dispute has damaged the museum’s reputation.

The museum is also facing the prospect that the FRA might reclassify it from a tourist-train operator to a short-haul passenger railroad. That change would impose on the museum more comprehensive rules and regulations.

Steamtown Releases 2016 Excursion Schedule

May 4, 2016

Steamtown National Historic Site has announced its 2016 excursion schedule.

Reservations are available by calling 570-340-5204 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Online ticket sales are not available. Descriptions of the trips are as follows.

Park serviceJune 25: Delaware Water Gap. “Join us for the Founder’s Day celebration including restaurants, shops, historic displays, a car show, and a historic program about the resorts in and around this small town. Departs at 9 a.m. and returns at approximately 5 p.m.”

July 30: East Stroudsburg. “Get a taste of the history of the mighty DL&W Railroad with tours of the historic East Stroudsburg tower. Enjoy the hospitality of East Stroudsburg with food and music. Departs at 9 a.m. and returns at 5 p.m.”

Aug. 20: Carbondale. “Tickets for the Heritage Explorer Train, sponsored by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, can be purchased at any branch of the Lackawanna County Library System. For more information about the train, contact the Carbondale Public Library at 570-282-4281. Departs Steamtown at 10 a.m.”

Oct. 8: East Stroudsburg. “View spectacular fall colors on this trip over the Pocono Plateau for East Stroudsburg’s Fall Foliage Festival and Fireman’s Picnic. Departs at 9 a.m. and returns at 5 p.m.”

Oct. 16: Delaware Water Gap. “An all-day excursion to the old resort town of Delaware Water Gap includes fall activities and a tour of this historic town. Departs at 9 a.m. and returns at approximately 5 p.m.”

New River Train Excursions Set

April 19, 2016

Four excursions of the New River Train have been set for 2016. Operated by the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, the train will travel from Huntington to Hinton, West Virginia, and return over the former Chespeake & Ohio mainline.

West VirginiaNow owned by CSX, the C&O mainline traverses the New River Gorge. The train will have coaches, lounge cars, dome cars and a business car on the rear, all pulled by Amtrak locomotives.

Trains will operate on Oct. 15, 16, 22 and 23 and include a layover in Hinton.

Tickets are $149 for adult coach, $99 for child coach, $179 for heritage, $269 for premium, $319 for dome car and $550 for the business car.

To purchase tickets or obtain information call 866-639-7487 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Or visit

The New River Train is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

October Fall Foliage Excursions Set in Michigan

September 23, 2015

The Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Michigan, will offer three fall foliage trips next month.

The trips include Cadillac to Boyne Falls on Oct. 3, Petoskey to Fife Lake on Oct. 10 and an hour-long trip near Cadillac on Oct. 17. The latter is being run in conjunction with an excursion from Mt. Pleasant to Cadillac that day that is already sold out. There will also be an hour-long countryside trip out of Fife Lake.

All trains will offer snacks, beverages and a limited selection of adult beverages for purchase.

The Boyne Falls trip coincides with that city’s annual Harvest Festival. A shuttle will also be available for those wishing to attend Boyne Mountain’s Skitoberfest.

Tickets for the all-day trips are $79 for coach seating and $39 for economy seating plus a processing fee. Tickets for the Cadillac and Fife Lake countryside trip are $20 plus a processing fee.

To purchase tickets online: or call 989-399-7589.

Sept. 20 Excursions to Cross Quincy High Bridge

September 12, 2015

The Cincinnati Railway Company will operate two public excursions on Sept. 20 from Lima to Quincy on the Indiana & Ohio Railroad.

The highlight of the trips over tracks of the former Detroit, Toledo & Ironton will be crossing the Quincy High Bridge over the Great Miami River.

Trains will depart Lincoln Park in Lima at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The trip sponsor is the Allen County Historical Society, which reports that all tickets for the excursions have been sold.

In a Facebook posting, the Cincinnati Railway group said it is leasing two locomotives from Norfolk Southern for the trips, No. 7136 (a GP60) and No. 3170 (an SD40).

The trains will stop just short of the diamonds with CSX in Quincy.

Steamtown Sets 2 Trips to Delaware Water Gap

May 23, 2015

Steamtown National Historic Site has announced that it will operate two-diesel powered excursions between Scranton and Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, on June 27 and Oct. 18. Trains will depart at 9 a.m. and return around 5 p.m.

The June 27 trip is being held in conjunction with Founder’s Day in Delaware Water Gap. The town will have a car show and a historic program about the resorts in and around the town.

The Oct. 18 trip includes fall activities and tours of the town.

The excursions will use former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western tracks over the Pocono Summit.
For more information, go to

N&W 611 Excursion Train Consist Announced

April 30, 2015

The consist that Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 will pull on May 30 will have 18 coaches and first class cars representing an array of railroad heritages.

The manifest will include cars from eight railroads, including Norfolk & Western, Great Northern, New York Central, Chesapeake & Ohio, Southern Railway, Florida East Coast, Seaboard Air Line and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The front half of the train will have eight Tuscan-red Norfolk Southern coaches rebuilt in the past four years for excursion service.

Then will come two Watauga Valley National Railway Historical Society coaches, one an N&W-painted car.

Following those will be six first-class cars, including a full-length ex-Great Northern dome, two standard domes and ex-Seaboard Air Line lounge Hollywood Beach.

Three original N&W cars, including Watauga coach No. 539 in original lettering and colors and NS 28 and 29 in NS lettering and colors, will be in the consist.

Former New York Central tavern-lounge No. 43, and Southern Railway sleeper-lounge Crescent Harbor are among the first class cars.

The tool car that the 611 carried on excursions from 1982 to 1994, the Roanoke Chapter’s Norfolk & Western mail-storage car No. 1407 and a merchandise car, Paul Revere, will round out the consist.

Preston Claytor of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the 611, said that five suites will be available for four people – three drawing rooms on the Crescent Harbor and two on the Hollywood Beach with the partition removed.

Excursion tickets went on sale Monday to donors of more than $611 to the restoration effort. Public sales begin May 6 at

The streamlined 1950 Roanoke-built Class J is nearing completion of its restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

Painting of the locomotive began this week, and it should be attached to its tender soon. The 611 will return to its home in Roanoke, Va., on May 30.

Everett RR Expansion to Benefit Excursions

January 30, 2015

The Everett Railroad is planning a $1 million expansion that will benefit its excursion train service.

The railroad is expanding along Loop Road near Hollidaysburg, Pa. Plans are to build structures for public excursions.

The Everett is a 23-mile Class III railroad serving Blair County. Its uses former Pennsylvania Railroad tracks passing through Duncansville, Hollidaysburg, Roaring Spring, Martinsburg and Claysburg. It connects with the Norfolk Southern.

The company website says that the excursions pass by “the farmlands of Morrisons Cove, historic Roaring Spring, and along the banks of the Juniata River.”

Excursions operate throughout the year and include fall foliage specials and Santa trains. The trains are pulled by one or more of the three diesel locomotives that are used in regular freight service.

Coaches include three former Delaware Lackawanna & Western multiple-unit cars owned by the Horseshoe Curve Chapter of the National Railway Historic Society.

Major commodities handled in freight service include grain and feed ingredients, pulp, paper, lumber, industrial raw materials and manufactured goods.