Making Tracks to History

On The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway 

Family fun is only a train ride away on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway (HVSR). Passengers will make tracks to history when they ride this historic tourist railroad located in Nelsonville, Ohio, near the Hocking Hills.

The HVSR is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that offers historic train rides between Nelsonville and Logan along a section of the former Hocking Valley Railway. The Nelsonville area was once rich in coal mining and brick production.

The railroad offers diesel-powered trains each Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day Weekend to the end of October. There are even special steam-powered trains scheduled multiple times throughout the year. There are also specialty trains such as Robbery Trains, a Halloween Train, a Caboose Train, and the popular Santa Trains in November and December. Reservations are recommended for most of the special trains because they tend to sell out.

The railroad also offers various dinner trains, from elegant dinners to barbecue trains. Anyone interested in when dinner trains will be should watch the railroad’s Facebook page. Tickets for all trains can be purchased at hvsry.org or by calling (855) 32DEPOT.

Passengers on the HVSR are treated to vintage passenger cars from various railroads. The cars were built between 1916 and the early 1960s. One car was built for branchline trains, while three others were built for commuter trains. Some of the railroad’s cars were built for

long-distance trains and currently feature air-conditioning. There is even a 1950 dining car used on the dinner trains. Three passenger cars are former freight cars that have been converted to open-air cars.

The railroad owns six vintage diesel locomotives and one steam locomotive. The diesel locomotives were built between 1944 and 1957, and three are currently in operating condition. One diesel, Chesapeake and Ohio No. 5833 is identical to locomotives that likely operated in Nelsonville during the 50s and 60s. In April, the HVSR purchased a 1956 diesel switcher from an industry in Columbus, Ohio. The locomotive will soon be moved to Nelsonville by rail and will receive some minor repairs upon arrival. Once repaired, it will begin a new career hauling passengers.

The railroad’s steam locomotive, No. 3, was built in 1920 for Beech Bottom Power Company in West Virginia and was in service until 1968. The locomotive was donated to the HVSR in 1982, and its restoration commenced 19 years later. The volunteer-led restoration was completed in 2015, and No. 3 is currently the only regularly operating standard gauge steam locomotive in Ohio.

Aside from the steam locomotive, restoration projects have ranged from rebuilding a diesel locomotive to restoring passenger cars. The current major shop project is converting an ex-Canadian Pacific coach into a table car for use on the dinner trains.

The railroad’s history dates to the mid-1800s as the Nelsonville area’s coal industry developed at a fast pace. The Hocking Canal could not keep up with the coal industry’s rapid development. Ground was broken for the railroad in Columbus in 1867, and it reached Nelsonville in 1869. The railroad’s arrival helped bring an economic boom to the coal-rich region. Nelsonville once had over 40 mines and mining communities. Brick production was also a prominent industry in the Nelsonville area that thrived with the railroad. On board the train, passengers will see several historic sites, such as brick kilns, a canal lock, and an old company town named Haydenville. Haydenville was named after industrialist Peter Hayden, who incorporated the Haydenville Mining and Manufacturing Company to produce clay products from the rich clay. Many company houses are still standing and can be seen from the train. A round silo brick house and the Haydenville Methodist Church can also be seen from the train. The Church incorporates more than 24 types of brick and tile pieces.

Plan your rides at Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.

See Our Sponsors

Share this with: