Over the last ten years, my family and I have developed a tradition. The tradition? Trains. More specifically, trains, trolleys, and anything to do with rails. While we love attending festivals, concerts and family dinner nights, we also enjoy the quieter side of life. When the weather is warm the bikes are out on the trails, hikes are preferred and, when we have the time, a good ride on the rails offers a much needed respite. Here are four great railroad experiences to enjoy in 2023!
The Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad
Location: Titusville, Pennsylvania
Operations: Oil Creek Railway Historical Society
Depot Address: Perry Street Station 409 S Perry St, Titusville, PA 16354
Website: Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad | Come Ride the Rails
Owned and operated by the Oil Creek Railway Historical Society, this train experience offers some of the best restored cars we’ve seen. The open air car is connected near the engine, so train enthusiasts can see what’s going on even more. If you’re looking to get out of the fresh air, then the variety of cars behind it provide much room for exploration.
The Oil Creek and Titusville operates over tracks that were originally built as the main line of the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railroad in the 1880s; trackage in Titusville was originally owned by the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad.Source – Wikipedia
To get to this excursion one can take a drive through historic oil boom town, Franklin, Pennsylvania. Franklin is a history buff’s dream, especially since it, in fact, has connections to not only oil and coal mining history, but the name John Wilkes Booth. This particular railroad also continues operating to this day as a Railroad Post Office. How cool is that?!
Regular tours will not resume until June 11th of next year, so you have plenty of time to plan your Spring outing! Don’t have time for a Spring excursion? They offer plenty more events throughout Summer and Autumn as well.
Tracks & Yaks Rail Bike Tours
Location: Frostburg, Maryland
Operations: Founded, owned and operated by Adam and Julie Forshee
Depot Address: 18 Depot St, Frostburg, MD 21532, USA
Website: Tracks & Yaks
What’s really cool about this excursion is that both train and rail bike utilize the same depot, so it offers something for everybody: fans of trains and those looking to try out something new. My parents have done rail bikes several times, but I didn’t get my chance until the 4th of July last year. My one suggestion to anybody looking for a day out on the rails? Wear sunscreen! I got pretty bad sunburn that day, but that’s due to my own stupidity. If you’re looking for something to do that’s not in your normal routine, then I definitely suggest taking this day trip to Frostburg, Maryland!
The Frostburg Train Depot: Built in 1891 by the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the station saw regular business for the two daily trains between Cumberland, Maryland and Piedmont, West Virginia, via Frostburg. The C&P was a small local railroad, but it connected these communities to the B&O, Western Maryland and Pennsylvania railroads. Service was discontinued in 1942, when the Second World War and increased car travel on the National Road made the rail service unsustainable.Source – Passages of the Potamic
If you don’t feel like taking a rail bike – but you’ll go through a really cool tunnel! And you’ve got some great video/photo opportunities along the way too – then the depot’s long train and stagecoach history is where it’s at. Go check out Frostburg!
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Location: Peninsula, Ohio
Operation: Operated in conjunction with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Unfortunately, I couldn’t dig up any photos from our trip with this railroad, but we really enjoyed this particular excursion. It is a bit of a drive from where we live here in Pittsburgh, but if you go into it knowing it’ll be a full day kind of trip, then that’s perfectly good as well. Sadly, their website currently displays this message:
Due to ongoing issues of erosion along the Cuyahoga River, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has limited use of rails that run through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Out of abundance for safety, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will resume limited runs during February 2023.
My family and I took a summer excursion and was absolutely gorgeous. I cannot imagine how moreso it would be in the winter! As with everything else on this list, I also highly recommend taking this trip.
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
Location: Washington, Pennsylvania
Operation: A dedicated group of staff, operators, volunteers and board of trustees
Address: 1 Museum Road, Washington, PA 15301
I know this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum on this site, but as the granddaughter of one of the site’s founding members, I can’t help but include it! The following comment may also be a bit biased, but I really love the updates they’ve made to their website and did a great job bringing the look and feel of the site to our modern century.
Even though they have a myriad of kids events throughout the year to choose from, they offer just as many experiences for adults who love trolleys as well. One can even be a trolley operator! To learn more about the museum and my family’s connection with it, please visit this blog post.
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum came to Chartiers Township, Washington County in February 1954 with three trolleys and a dream that was born in 1941. Today, that dream is a reality. PTM now boasts a collection of nearly 50 cars, over 600 members worldwide, 150 active volunteers, and over 30,000 visitors each year. With your support, we can fulfill our mission to keep the Trolley Era alive for generations to come.Source – The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum website
From Ohio to Maryland, there are four great railroad experiences to enjoy in 2023! Do any of them strike your fancy? I think we’ve found another steam train trip to enjoy down in West Virginia next year.