July Highlights aboard the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad
Explore the West Virginia mountains this summer aboard any one of four unique trains operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. These Mountain Rail Adventures depart the historic depots of Elkins and Durbin on a regular schedule from April through December.
Wilderness excursions on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad are many and varied. For the most part these excursions cover areas of the West Virginia wilderness that can only be accessed by foot or by rail. These are Mountain Rail Adventures into regions where automobiles cannot go, places where rail was set a century ago and still exists.
Mountain Rail Options
Explore the Monongahela National Forest in a diesel powered, climate controlled, circa 1950s New Tygart Flyer that makes it way along the Shaver’s Fork of the Cheat River with its final destination the High Falls of Cheat. On this four-hour trip take in the mountain vistas as the train climbs steep grades around the mountains and over cascading rivers. The surprise of this trip is the long “S” curved tunnel! Day becomes night for a time, and if you peer out the window long enough, you can see the tunnel walls! The New Tygart Flyer departs the Elkins Depot at 11 a.m. Thursday thru Sunday throughout the months of July and August. Early September schedule streamlines to Saturday and Sunday only, then gears up again for the autumn leaf peeper season beginning September 18.
In nearby Durbin, the Durbin Rocket chugs along the banks of the Greenbrier River to Heavener Station. This signature steam-driven locomotive and its two-hour ride is a delight for kids since there are lots of fun things to do on the train. Wee ones can watch the fireman shovel coal into the bellowing beast or watch as water is put into the boiler. The Rocket’s cars are for the most part open, so kids and adults alike can meander through the entire train at will. There is also a closed car with a wood stove to ward off the autumn chill later in the season. The Durbin Rocket departs the Durbin Depot twice daily at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. It is scheduled similar to the New Tygart Flyer.
Back in Elkins, the Cheat Mountain Salamander offers longer rides into even more rugged mountain territory. Named for the rare salamander indigenous to the Cheat Mountain region, the Cheat Mountain Salamander reaches into the highly elevated Cheat Mountain region where Red Spruce is common and mighty rivers have their source. The Elkins to Spruce leg opens July 19 with the ceremonial “Great Train Race!” The Elkins to Spruce trip is a nine-hour round trip… just perfect for train buffs!
Blues Weekend — July 18-19
The mountain town of Elkins plays host to the Riverside Blues Train & Riverside Blues Festival. Friday, July 18, the Riverside Blues Train departs Elkins Depot at 11 am. A live on-board music performance by Shirley King, daughter of B. B. King, and Lawrence T, of Detroit, MI highlight this wilderness rail adventure.
Back at the Depot, it’s a Mardi Gras with Blues on the Balcony of the RailYard Restaurant from 3 – 4 p.m. Featuring the Shirley King Band and Max-A-Million, international Gold/Platinum recording artist from Chicago, IL.
On Saturday, July 19 enjoy the Riverside Blues Festival 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. Festival location is 20 River Street, Elkins. http://riversidebluesfestwv.com . Tickets may be purchased at the gate.
The Great West Virginia Train Race – July 19
The Cheat Mountain Salamander meets up with the Cass Scenic Railroad at Spruce to compete in the race of the year! This all-day event features a BBQ picnic and live entertainment.
Since elevation is higher and temperatures cooler, bring a sweater, an umbrella in case of rain, and a blanket since you’ll be out in the “wilds.”
As of press time, most Salamander seats have been sold. It’s best to call for Salamander availability: 1-877-686-7245. Tickets are available for boarding at Cass for the Great Train Race at Spruce, and may be reserved online at www.Mtn-Rail.com .