You Can Ride Through the West Virginia Mountains on This Historic Railroad

All aboard! This 100-year-old railroad might be the ride of a lifetime.

Ladies, don your best swing dress and put on your peep-toe pumps. Gents, pull on that sports coat and dust off your fedora. You're about to take the ride of your life…in a vintage locomotive running on a hundred-year-old railroad.

No, this isn't Gare du Nord with Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 hit Funny Face. It's the Potomac Eagle railroad in the South Branch Valley of West Virginia.

Potomac Eagle
Potomac Eagle

The train, which runs 53 miles from Green Spring to Petersburg, parallels the Potomac River and serves the towns of Romney, Moorefield, and Petersburg. The backbone of the operation are the locomotives, which, built in the 1950s, previously transported iron ore pellets from the Ohio ore docks to the Pittsburg steel mills.

Hop aboard and you'll be instantly transported to a world reminiscent of Wes Anderson, with rich, rust-colored banquettes; vibrant, creamy orange paint; and ruby red benches. Pick a seat—really, any seat as the windows are abundant—and prepare to enjoy the view. Maybe you'll even be the protagonist of a Wes-inspired plot. Darjeeling Limited, anyone?

The Potomac Eagle runs four routes: the Trough Trip, Sunset Trough Trip, All Day Trip to Petersburg, and the Green Spring Special.

Potomac Eagle the Trough
Potomac Eagle

The Trough Trips run through the canyon all the way to the Sycamore Bridge before looping back around. The Trough, which was the site of the Battle of the Trough during the French and Indian War, is accessible only on foot, by river, or by the Potomac Eagle excursion train. It's also an area home to the bald eagle, and there's a likely chance you'll see at least one soaring above the trees as you breeze by along the river. At sunset, be prepared for a spectacular show of fiery oranges and reds that saturate the sky.

More adventurous travelers may prefer the all-day excursion to the town and Grant County seat of Petersburg, with service from May to October at the end of each month. A generous layover leaves ample time for exploring the charming shops and restaurants. You know we can't pass up the opportunity to peruse a 100-year-old general store or discover historic delights like this 1840s parsonage.

The Green Spring Special is as light and cheerful as the name implies. In just an hour and a half, you'll have zipped along the water up to Green Spring and back, having enjoyed the views of the rolling farmland and rock formations along the way.

Potomac Eagle train tickets allow passengers to choose the retro experience they desire, from a simple (but no less breathtaking) ride to the glory days of luxury train travel in the vintage dining cars complete with railroad china. Either way, one thing is guaranteed: a feast for the eyes. All aboard!

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