October in West Virginia By Rail

1 This post is by Joe Stephens

In case you don’t know this, I like trains. I have a model train set that I hope to grow into a true display when I retire. But I really like to ride trains, and in my home state of West Virginia, this month is the perfect time to do it. There are several scenic railroads to choose from, all of which do the bulk of their business in October when the leaves of our tree-covered state are in their full glory. Here are a few of the best choices.

  1. Cass Scenic Railroad The old town of Cass was at one time the headquarters of some
    logging companies that nearly denuded much of southern West Virginia of the bulk of its old growth trees. Happily, that deforestation has been reversed and all that still exists of those days

    Train Season Begins May 20. Get Onboard!  Visit Cass in 2014.

    are some old company houses, which now serve as overnight cottages for tourists, and the spectacular coal-fired Shay locomotives that take riders to the top of Bald Knob, where, especially at this time of year, they can hop off and take in one of the most spectacular views in the entire world. Layer after layer of mountain covered in reds and yellows and oranges as far as the eye can see. The ride up and down is just as beautiful in a much more intimate way. Just be careful not to get coal smoke in your eye! For more information, go here: http://www.cassrailroad.com/

  2. The Potomac Eagle Boarding in the small town of Romney, also well known for its apples, The Potomac Eagle takes riders through a unique area called the trough. What makes it so singular is that the terrain is so steep that there are no roads in or out. It’s literally sheer mountains on either side, with just enough bank for camping areas on one side of the Potomac River and the railroad on the other. So the only way to traverse the trough is by canoe or train. The train American Bald Eagle, as seen from the train: is a lot less work. And October is the time to do it. Because it’s so secluded, a population of bald eagles lives there and you haven’t fully lived until you see a bald eagle swoop down and take a trout out of the water right before your eyes. For info on this train, go here: http://www.potomaceagle.info/
  3. The New River Train Excursion  This one is on my bucket list. The trip starts in Huntington and passes by many of the beautiful sites of WV, ending in Hinton, where there’s a street fair. After that is the return trip. Much of the ride is along the New River, one of the oldest rivers in North America. It’s a full day trip. Here’s where you go for more information: http://www.newrivertrain.com/nrt.shtml. While you’re there, you may want to check out the other excursions the railroad offers.

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his newest book on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

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27 thoughts on “October in West Virginia By Rail

  1. Love it. I will be going on one of these the last week in October. I also want to go to the Island. I have always wanted to. I’d love to see the Eagles. Thanks for the reminder. I hadn’t thought about it for a long time. Cher’ley


      1. I have been there at Christmas on the Island that was fun. I use to be set up at the craft house where I painted while wearing period clothes. It was fun.


  2. Those train rides sound like wonderful excursions. You made me add them to my bucket list if I am ever in the area. My husband had a model train set when we were first married–n guage–and it was neat. However when we moved to a farm in another state, he sold it and now has pictures of trains and watches a show on TV weekly that features old steam locomotives. We rode the old train in Alaska to the Klondike gold fields several years ago and a train in the Blackhills, all now strictly for tourists. I rode a passenger train when young to get from one place to another a ocuple times, not Amrtak either. They are fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, trains! Like West Virginia, Colorado has those spectatular rides. There is nothing like sitting back and watching a beautiful world roll by before your eyes. West Virginia is a beautiful state and those lucky enough to get to see it on train rides like these are blessed. Thanks and enjoy those rides. Doris PS Going cross country can be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I checked out the New River Train excursion website and it looks like a beautiful trip! It’s the perfect time of year to go too. I’ve never been to West Virginia but seeing it by train would definitely be a treat. I have driven from Massachusetts to the fall foliage in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It’s breathtaking and would be even more special by train. Great post, Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Trains, the big ones and the model trains, have always been a fascination for me. The men on my dad’s side of the family were railroad men. My Grandpa Bud was a train master at a depot in the Akron area, my Great-Grandpa Lou operated depots in Ohio and Indiana. As a teenager dad worked summers laying track. He loved model trains; about 10 years ago I bought him a Smithsonian model, the first train in America. Like you, I’ve thought about building model train layouts. One Christmas friends gave me a couple of books on how to build proper layouts. Fascinating stuff. When I lived in the Wilmington area of North Carolina, I covered the cities of Burgaw and Wallace for a weekly newspaper. Both were stops on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad back in the mid-19th century, and had historic depots that had been converted into museums and chamber of commerce headquarters. I’d like to someday take the New River train excursion trip. Back in the late 1970s, I went whitewater rafting on the New River.


    1. I’ve rafted the New as well. It’s quite fun, but you spend so much time concentrating on not dying that I think it’s hard to really enjoy the scenery, which is why I want to do the train soon.


  6. Beautifully written, Joe. I’ve never been through West Virginia, although I’ve been close. I love train rides too and know I would really enjoy the excursions you have portrayed. Hopefully, someday I’ll get there! We have a lot of Bald Eagles here. We have to watch our for our small dog constantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. They sound fabulous trips, Joe. I’d love to do your old steam train rides. You can feel really into nature when you are in place where there’s an absence of roads and cars. We have some ‘special excursion’ trains around northern Scotland but they’re quite short return trips.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am not really a train buff, however I have experienced your numbers 1 & 2. Although I prefer the areas surrounding the train trips, Number 2 especially. I have made several trips into the trouth and enjoyed viewing and attempting to photograph the Bald Eagles from a canoe or the river bank. Yes the train is a lot less work, but the canoe option is much more up close and personal.

    My hubby is a bit of a train buff and is working on his own model train set up. After years of collecting a car here and an engine there he now has 5 trains that run though a set up that encompasses an entire room. Keep adding to your collection and hopefully one day you will have a train room of your own.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve never ridden a train but I have taken river boat cruises and LOVE THEM! Maybe a train some day, too. I’d certainly love to visit your area during autumn one day — it’s on my bucket list!


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