Riding on the platform of a vintage private railroad car is like no other travel experience. As Eleanor Robson Belmont said, “A private railcar is not an acquired taste. One takes to it immediately.
This is particularly true through the New River Gorge in West Virginia.
The national parkland, known as "Grand Canyon of the East" runs along the New River, a rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons. The New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land. The roaring rapids, sheer cliffs and spectacular views can only be seen from the river or the railroad tracks.
The train traverses the former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline from Huntington, WV to Hinton, WV. It follows the Kanawha River all the way to the mouth of the New River at Gauley Bridge. The tracks then follow the New River for the remainder of the trip into Hinton. Landmarks and scenic locations on the route include downtown Charleston and the State Capitol building, Institute of Technology, of West Virginia University in Montgomery, Kanawha Falls, Hawks Nest Dam and bridge, the famous New River Gorge Bridge at Fayetteville, Grandview, Stretcher Neck Tunnel, Sandstone Falls, and numerous historical artifacts and towns from the New River's rich coal mining era.
Amtrak’s cardinal follows this route from Chicago to Washington DC but for those who don’t wish to spend two days on the rails, there is a one day excursion for two weekends during the peak of the fall foliage.
The Collis P. Huntington Chapter of the National Railroad Historic Society has been running the New River Train since the 1960’s. In the beginning, they worked in conjunction with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. When the C&O was merged into the Chessie System Railroads in 1980 the chapter took over sponsorship of the trip. The trips operate in October of each year during the peak of the fall season in Southern West Virginia. 300-mile, one-day, round trip rail excursions. From Huntington or St Albans, WV to Hinton WV. Passengers travel though the 65 mile long Gorge. There is a three hour visit in Hinton, WV at the Annual Railroad Days Festival with arts, crafts, food and entertainment.
The New River Train has hosted persons from all around the world. The train runs up to 30 private vintage railcars ranging from coaches to dome to lounges, with the 1925 Dearing platform car on the rear. It is pulled by three Amtrak engines.
More information about the trip is posted at http://www.newrivertrain.com/