‘She came at me in sections, more curves than a scenic railway.’ – Fred Astaire in Band Wagon.
Coopersville & Marne Railway
All aboard for a trip back in time on this vintage passenger train! The Coopersville & Marne Railway is located midway between Grand Rapids and Muskegon in Western Michigan and offers a 90 minute train ride between its namesake towns. The train includes coaches dating to the 1920’s along with 1950’s era locomotives and the right of way followed dates back to an 1848 charter for the Oakland and Ottawa Railroad. The Coopersville & Marne Railway offers numerous EnterTRAINment Excursions, featuring local musicians, as well as several Theme Trains throughout the operating season. These include Bunny Trains at Easter time; a Veterans’ Troop Train on Memorial Day, Great Train Robbery events, Murder Mystery Trains, Famous Pumpkin Trains and Santa Trains. There are also group charter train rides beginning in mid-March each year, which can include pizza or Hobo Bindle lunches, and EnterTRAINment if desired by the group. The season begins in March and continues through Christmas. The schedule can be found online at www.mitrain.net. The station is located at 306 E. Main Street in historic downtown Coopersville, Michigan. tel: 616 997 7000.
St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern
The route goes from 252 E Jackson Blvd in Jackson, Missouri, along a Missouri Pacific branch line. Journeys last one and a half hours (to Gordonville), two hours (Dutchtown) or five hours (Delta). ‘The most daring train robbery on record’ took place here on the Mountain Railroad in 1874 when Jesse James and his gang held up the Little Rock Express at Gad’s Hill. The SLMRR today has a diesel locomotive and promotes its train as a traveling history museum, with rail cars that are 93 years old. Trains operate on a closed privately owned track on weekends from April to December. The Jesse James Gang Robbery is one of the most requested trips and they have murder mystery dinner trains and chuck wagon dinner trains, as well as the Santa Express in December. Mail address: PO Box 244, Jackson, MO 63755; tel: 573 243 1688.
Indiana’s longest scenic railway runs between Connersville and the restored town of Metamora, next to the old Whitewater Canal. The Whitewater River formed a natural trade route for Native Americans and early settlers, and a canal was built in the mid-19th century. In 1863, the Indianapolis & Cincinnati Railroad acquired the right to build on the old towpath and its subsidiary, the White Water Valley Railroad, reached Connersville in 1867. It continued on to Hagerstown in 1868, but passenger service ended in 1933 and freight traffic in 1972. Today’s Whitewater Valley Railroad operates along 18 miles (30km) of track purchased in 1983, plus an additional mile in Connersville. It uses historic diesel locomotives and open-window coaches on a regular schedule from Connersville to Metamora. Another service, the Metamora Shuttle, carries passengers further south on a 2-mile (3.2km) excursion along the restored canal, past the canal boat dock, a working aqueduct and a restored lock. The railroad’s Baldwin Prairie locomotive is currently out of action and awaiting repairs. Trains operate at weekends and on holidays from the first weekend in May to the last weekend in October, as well as at Christmas. Mail address: PO Box 406, Connersville, IN 47331; tel 765 825 2054.