Casting about for a new adventure? Have you ever been lured by the romance of riding the rails? Whether crossing our beautiful country or just traveling to Aunt Martha’s in the next state, rail travel has long captured man’s imagination.
Who doesn’t enjoy reading of rail adventures like Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, or movies of train robbers in the Old West, or real-life tales of hobos?
As autumn bursts upon us with her vibrant palette, a scenic train excursion through the Ozarks or the Smokies might be just the remedy for boredom, a ticket to fall’s panorama, and for snapping some frameworthy photos.
Branson Scenic Railway, just 5-1/2 hours away in Branson, Missouri, offers a scenic 40-mile round trip through the Ozark foothills. You’ll enjoy seating in restored antique passenger cars, crossing 100-year-old bridges, having a guide point out wildlife, landmarks, and interesting historic facts about the region. You’re free to walk from car to car, three of which are dome cars with panoramic views. Buy snacks and refreshments.
The Branson Railway gives you a choice of taking the Northern route through Missouri and the James River Valley, or the Southern route through Northwest Arkansas and over the Barren Fork Trestle. Each round trip takes about 1-3/4 hour, with a price tag of $27.50 plus tax per person. A 10% discount is available for AAA members.
Through October you can take advantage of a special dinner train on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. You’ll be served a 4-course candlelit meal. Tickets for this trip are $62.00 plus tax per person.
For those willing to travel a little further to their rail adventure, the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad offers a 3-hour, 70-mile scenic tour through the Ozark Boston Mountains. The train leaves Van Buren, Arkansas, traveling to Winslow and back. The trip is offered on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through mid-November.
Crossing three valley trestles and passing through the 1,700-foot long Winslow Tunnel, this excursion train utilizes a present-day working railroad, so you may encounter an occasional delay. Passenger car choices include: Coach Class in a 1920’s-style car at $50.00 per passenger; Bronze Vintage, also a 1920’s-style car at $60.00; Gold Class in a 1950’s-built car for $84.00; and the Silver Feather Premium in a 1940’s Zephyr Vista Dome with two levels and 360-degree views for $94.00. Lunch is included in the ticket prices.
Planning a group trip? A&M will hook up the caboose for a party of 1015 people at a cost of $500.00.
For further information on these trips and to purchase tickets, check out the websites at: www.amrailroad.com; and www.bransontrain.com. For Smoky Mountains trips, visit www.gsmr.com.
Autumn is going to pass by. Why not let it be on a train?
Article by Constance Watkins