West Virginia

Riding the Rails: Vintage Trains in the West Virginia Mountains

Explore West Virginia aboard classic trains, including the historic Shay and Heisler steam engines, and stop at a steam-engine repair shop.
Rating (4.9)
Program No. 5230RJ
6 days
Starts at
10 Reviews
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4.9 Average

What a great trip for any age! We had such a great time. From the start, contacting the staff at Road Scholar, receiving the materials about the trip, the experience itself, to the end, departing from all the new friends made, IT IS GREAT!!


If you like trains and mountain scenery, this program is for you. You will a once in a lifetime train traveling up the side of a mountain to the top of one the highest mountains in West Virginia.


Trains, Trains, Trains what could be better.


A great program for anyone who likes vintage trains. Good mix of technical info and actual riding on the trains. Added value of presentations on the area history and way of life.


This was a great trip with the wonderful opportunity to ride some very interesting tourist/historic railroads using some unique types of steam locomotives and old passenger cars. There was significant learning about rail operations and logging, as well as about West Virginia history, culture, and music. The lodgings were comfortable in a typical Holiday Inn with decent hot breakfast, good wifi, free parking, fridge/microwave/coffee in room and indoor swimming pool. Meals were fine if somewhat limited in scope, and featured standard American fare. Transportation was in a comfortable big bus and nobody seemed to get sick on the windy, narrow, mountain roads. The longest bus ride was about 90 minutes each way. The Branson-style dinner theater show at the Gandy Dancer was a hoot and a holler. One dinner was in a fascinating old mansion at the local college. This was not at all an active program, and for those who struggled to manage the up to two-block walks needed at times, transportation was usually available. The group numbered 44, which seemed a big large and meant that getting on and off the bus took up to 4 minutes. Buffet serving lines at lunch and dinner took a good 25+ minutes from first person to last. The congenial group ranged in age from 55 to 95 (average about 75) from a dozen different states, and was well-traveled with an overall rail-fan leaning. The train rides were spectacular, going up and down real mountains, using switchbacks, past mountain streams and waterfalls, and using both closed and open cars so that photo opportunities were unlimited. The rides lasted up to four hours, with some stops here and there. The dinner train ride was the best meal of the trip and a great fun experience in a historic dining car. I recommend this trip to anyone who can get on and off a bus and train, walk a block or two and who has an interest in historic trains and learning the true facts about West Virginia, Mountain Mama.


I would highly recommend the "Riding the Rails" program offered by Road Scholar. All who were involved in making this trip were wonderful and the food was great. A very instructional and learning adventure!


For the train buff, this is a great chance to learn about the importance of trains in the logging industry. I was amazed to learn that trains with gear shaft drives were uniquely designed for twisty train tracks and for slopes with grades up to 12%.


I strongly recommend this program for everyone who loves first-hand experiences and likes to learn new information about US history. Road Scholar programs are well-run, interesting, and fun. I've been on 12 of them and have never been disappointed.


It is the place to go if you want to ride trains with varied engines and have a blast doing it. What a way to see West Virginia's verdant forests, rushing waters, and stunning views in places where roads fear to go!


This is a super way to get "up close and personal" with steam motive power and the people who run and maintain it.

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