Posts Tagged ‘New River Train’

New River Gorge Excursions Canceled

September 24, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic concerns have led to the cancellation of the 2021 Autumn Colors Express excursion trips through the New River Gorge of West Virginia.

Rail Excursion Management, which is sponsoring the excursions, said the trips have been rescheduled for 2022.

 “An overwhelming number of customers have expressed concern about this year’s event,” said Railexco CEO Adam Auxier.

He noted that a surge in COVID-19 cases in West Virginia has local hospitals operating at emergency levels,” making postponement our best and only option this year.

Ticket holders will automatically be transferred to equivalent dates in October 2022. Questions about tickets, credits, or refunds can be directed to

The excursions were to be run in cooperation with Amtrak and the cities Huntington, Charleston and Hinton.

Passengers were to board in Huntington or Charleston and travel to Hinton for that city’s Railroad Days festival.

The Autumn Colors Express uses the same route as Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal.

Steam Saturday: Steaming that New River Train

October 24, 2020

This weekend would have seen the annual fall excursions from Huntington to Hinton, West Virginia, through the New River Gorge. But this year’s excursions were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 1966 and 2018 the trips were sponsored by the Huntington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Following the 2018 trips, that group opted out due to rising costs. A new operator was found and the trips resumed.

Many New River Train trips were pulled by steam locomotives. In 1977 and 1978 Reading 2101 and the Chessie Steam Special were the stars.

Chesapeake & Ohio 614 pulled trips in 1980 and1981. Nickel Plate Road 765 was a regular from 1983 to 1988, and again in 1992 and 1993.

However, in 1993 the 765 was dressed as C&O 2765.

In 1994, NKP 765 was down for its 15-year rebuild so Milwaukee Road 261 was available.

That year turned out to be the last year for steam due to CSX’s reluctance to host it.

In this post are some highlights from 1987 and 1994. 

The 1987 images of NKP 765 pulling the train were made at Hurricane, East Bank, Montogomery, Cotton Hill and Thurmond.

The 1994 images of MKE 261 were made at Scott Depot, Montgomery and Prince.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

2021 Dates Set for W.Va. Excursion Train

August 19, 2020

The sponsors of the New River train in West Virginia have announced that its 2021 dates of operation.

The Autumn Colors Express between Huntington and Hinton has been canceled for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rail Excursion Management Company said the 2021 trips will operate Oct. 21-24.

The trains will made an intermediate stop in Charleston.

W.Va. Fall Excursion Train Canceled

July 22, 2020

The New River excursion train in West Virginia has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now known as the Autumn Colors Express, the train had been scheduled to operate over the CSX New River Subdivision between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia, on Oct. 22-25.

Operator Railexco said that pandemic rules announced by Gov. Jim Justice led to the cancellation.

The same rules also prompted the scrapping of the annual railroad festival in Hinton held at the same time as the excursion.

Railexco said it will seek to operate the train in 2021 between Oct. 21 and 24.

Fabulous Fall Fun in 1987

June 23, 2020

Nickel Plate Road 765 at Clarksfield, Ohio, on Sept. 27, 1987.

My passion for steam was evident in the Fall of 1987.

In the 1980s Norfolk Southern was still operating between Orrville and Bellevue. For several years Nickel Plate Road No. 765 pulled trips sponsored by the Orrville Railroad Heritage or Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum.

Also during the ’80s the East Broad Top still had four operating 2-8-2s. Usually Nos. 12 and 17 were out just for specials as the Fall Spectacular. The regular tourist train was No. 14 or No. 15.

Finally former Pennsylvania Railroad  K-4 No. 1361 was operating crew training trips from Vail to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

I caught one on a spectacular autumn day not knowing the following year would be the last time it would be in steam.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

East Broad Top Nos. 14 and 17 at Orbisonia, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 10, 1987.

EBT Nos. 12, 14, 15 and 17 at Colgate Grove during a rare quadruple-header.

EBT 14 and 17 at Colgate Grove.

Nickel Plate Road No. 765 pulling a New River trip at Montgomery, West Virginia, on Oct. 18, 1987.

Pennsylvania Railroad No. 1361 at Vail, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 25, 1987. That’s steam impresario Doyle McCormack in the SP cap.

PRR 1361 at Milesburg, Pennsylvania, which is the junction of the branch to Bellefonte with the Bald Eagle Valley branch.

PRR 1361 at Bellfonte, Pennsylvania, the county seat of Centre County, on Oct. 25, 1987.

New River Gorge Train Schedule Set for 2020

January 18, 2020

The Autumn Colors Express will operate in 2020 through the New River Gorge of West Virginia.

Rail Excursion Management Company, which sponsors the train, said there will be four round-trip runs between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia, from Oct. 22 to 25.

Tickets go on sale Monday at Ticket prices range from $599 (chairman’s class) to $225 (coach).

The train will stop in Charleston to pick up passengers and will operate during the Hinton Railroad Days Festival.

The consist of the train is expected to be 25 to 30 cars. Last year’s train was made up of private rail cars pulled by Amtrak locomotives.

Foliage Train to Make Stop in Charleston

August 28, 2019

The Autumn Colors Express has announced that it will make a stop in Charleston, West Virginia, during its Oct. 25-27 excursions.

Formerly known as the New River Train, the train will be stopping in West Virginia’s capital city for the first time in 30 years.

Previously, the New River Train stopped in St. Albans, located 12 miles west of Charleston.

Rail Excursion Management Company, which is operating the excursion in West Virginia between Huntington and Hinton, said it has sold about 35 percent of the 4,000 available seats.

Most of the sales have been to residents of Ohio and West Virginia.

Adam Auxier, president of Rail Excursion Management, said ticket sales have been steady for the Saturday excursions compared to Sunday while a Friday trip is showing promise.

Most of the tickets sold have been in coach class but the most expensive seats, chairman’s class, also has seen brisk sales.

W.Va. Group Moving On From New River Train

August 6, 2019

The West Virginia organization that operated the New River Train for several years is moving on working to recover from the financial difficulties that led it to bow out of operating the long-running excursion train.

The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society in Huntington is working to get its insurance policy reinstated so it can resume offering commentary aboard Amtrak’s Cardinal and reopen its museum.

The Society is also looking to continue paying off its bills and might seek a smaller office building for its headquarters. It currently owns a two-story building in Huntington.

In an interview with Trains magazine, Society President Skip Reinhard said he wishes the new operators of the New River Train, which has been renamed the Autumn Colors Express, all the best.

“I hope everything works out  . . . and people have a good time,” Reinhard said.

Reinhard was reluctant to comment further about the New River Train situation other than to say he wished his organization had received more political support.

The Society said earlier this year it was cancelling the New River Train in 2019 due to having suffered a financial loss on the October 2018 excursions.

That led to cost overruns and cash flow issues that Society officials said stemmed from increases in Amtrak charter and tariff rates.

The Autumn Colors Express will be operated by Minnesota-based Rail Excursion Management under an agreement with Amtrak on Oct. 25-27 between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia.

2 Group to Provide Staff Support for Fall Excursions

August 4, 2019

The two partners that are helping Rail Excursion Management Company operate the Autumn Colors Express this October are primarily providing car hosts and other personnel support.

The groups are the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, both of which are known for their steam preservation and restoration efforts.

Formerly known as the New River Train, the Autumn Colors Express will operate on Oct. 25-27 between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia.

Even Rail Excursion has a steam tie in that its CEO is a former excursion director for Norfolk & Western No. 611.

Ft.WRHS Vice President Kelly Lynch said his organization will provide car hosts for first class passengers and provide administrative and marketing support.
Chris Campbell, president of KHSC said that organization will provide car hosts and other staffing support for the excursions.

2019 New River Train is Now Set to Go

August 2, 2019

The long awaited announcement of the return of the New River Train will be made Friday by Rail Excursion Management Company.

The train will operate under the name Autumn Colors Express on the weekend of Oct. 25-27 between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia.

Ticket sales will begin Aug. 5.

Amtrak agreed earlier this week to a contract with Rail Excursion for the 2019 trains after some prodding by West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

Manchin had said on Twitter in May that the New River Train would return, but various operational issues had to be ironed out before it was official.

The former operator of the train, the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, had in February canceled the train, citing financial issues.

Rail Excursion said it believes it can reduce the cost of the excursion by keeping its operations to one weekend, therefore avoiding car storage costs.

It also plans to replace a commissary car with additional seating and serving food to all passengers in their seats.

In previous years the New River Train operated over two weekends.

As in past years, private rail cars will be used as part of the excursions.

Providing support for the excursion will be the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society.

The latter has operated excursions behind its 2-8-4 Nickel Plate Road No. 765.