Ride The Rails This Summer

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Hocking Valley Scenic Railway has unique offerings not available at any other whistle stop.

Tucked back in the rolling hills of Southeast Ohio Appalachia, there’s more than just nature’s beauty in the midst of this leisurely scenic railway. Nearby the Nelsonville depot, there’s an eatery where train enthusiasts like to grab a bite before boarding time. Sometime the air is filled with lively railroading stories. Go ahead, interrupt and ask your questions, they don’t mind. It’s all part of that Hocking Valley charm.

Before crossing the tracks to the old-time depot to purchase your boarding pass, be sure to take advantage of the photo ops that abound. Stroll among railroad history and see lines of coaches, cabooses and engines depicting the eras of railroads past. But before time slips away, or the train sells-out, be sure to get your ticket.

Inside the old depot is a mini museum displaying railroad artifacts. In addition to specialty trains offered throughout the year, two excursions are offered regularly from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Roundtrip to Haydenville spans 1 ½ hours, departing at Noon. Roundtrip to Logan spans two hours, departing at 2:30 pm. There are also preseason weekend trains starting Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 1pm. Also, enclosed coaches with heat and open air cars are both available.

Enjoy the relaxing ride through the countryside. The narrator will let you know when to look left or right for the points of interest and share railroad and area history. In the meantime, gaze at the forest and lakes and the backdrop of rolling Hocking Hills. You even get to go over rivers and streams on a couple of train bridges. Near the halfway point, the train will stop, no it isn’t being robbed by bandits, that treat is saved for the robbery trains. Instead, it is to treat everyone to a sight not often seen. The train is about to reverse direction but instead of traveling backward, the engine is detached, slowly riding along side everyone on adjacent track and reconnected.

Now about those specialty trains (make your reservation well in advance):

Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery trains are family-friendly and feature a group of bandits on horseback making an attempt to rob the train. Everyone is given play money before the train departs. The “robbers” then come through and collect the play money once they’re able to stop the train. Guns are used but only with blanks. It is a safe atmosphere for everyone aboard! These trains tend to sell out quickly, so make sure you reserve your seat as early as possible! Robbery Trains are scheduled June 11, July 9 and August 6, 2016. All three Robbery trains depart the Nelsonville Depot at 6:00 p.m. and last approximately two hours.

Another favorite specialty train is the All Caboose Train. On September 3, 2016, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway gathers as many cabooses together as they can to make the All Cabooses Train. It usually consists of five cabooses in all. If you think that sounds unique, wait until you see it!  The All Caboose Train leaves the Nelsonville Depot at 11:00 a.m.  Since this is definitely a rare photo op, everyone has the opportunity to de-train and photograph the train passing by before re-boarding. The ride lasts approximately three hours. Seating is incredibly limited as each caboose only holds ten people or less. Make reservations well in advance.

While you’re in town, you may want to also make time to see:

  • Historic Dew Hotel, where President Roosevelt, President Taft, President McKinley, and President Harding all made campaign stops. Guess how they got there?
  • Stuart’s Opera House, built in 1879.
  • Restored Nelsonville Public Square. If there’s a shopper in the group, you may never see them again.
  • The Rocky® Outdoor Gear Store.
  • And of course there’s nearby Hocking Hills Area State Parks – the hot-tub capital!

If you plan to ride the rails this summer, visit http://www.hvsry.org for the latest fares, specials, operating times, how to charter a private train and other details along with directions. Make your next whistle stop, Nelsonville, Ohio to board the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway!