Sunday, August 29, 2010
The route climbs through the Monongahela National Forest in the mountains and along the shallow Cheat River, passing through a tunnel, and by many campgrounds along the way.
For most of the route it follows the line of the former Coal and Iron Railroad that ran from Elkins to Durbin. An older man announced landmarks and told stories as we passed.
Lunch was served on board during the outbound trip: a buffet of potato chips, hamburger buns, cold cuts, pasta salad, and assorted drinks.
After an hour and a half of climbing, the train stopped and the two locomotives used a siding to move from the front to the rear of the train. Another fifteen minutes of climbing with the locomotives pushing, and the train stopped to offload passengers at a small shelter. A short walk downhill led to the High Falls of Cheat, a wide waterfall (the railroad's brochure tells me that it is 18' high, and 150' wide). The surrounding rocks there are slippery, as the boy discovered when he slipped, falling into a mud puddle. Not wanting my son to feel embarrassed for being the only one to slip and fall, I slipped and landed in the same mud puddle right after he did.
On the return trip downslope, we were treated to cookies and brownies.
The ride was fun. The train creeped up the slope on the outbound trip, but went faster on the return. The scenery was attractive mixing the natural with the historic. The food was nothing to get excited about, but we all appreciated being well-fed on a long trip over lunch time.
Elkins, West Virginia is a four hour drive from the Washington, D.C. area without traffic (which there won't be at 6 am on a Saturday when you leave to make it in time for an 11 am departure). The drive is very scenic through the mountains, and lots of fun if you enjoy winding mountain roads.
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