Adventurers can savor historic train rides all across the Buckeye State.
Ohio’s famous Wright Brothers may have invented the first airplane, but passenger rail also played an important role in the region’s fascinating history. Experience a rolling rendezvous with nature and national treasures on a vintage rail excursion. The nostalgic appeal of train travel has always interested urban adventurers, but these themed tours will also inspire them. Book your tickets to ride and keep your group on track with authentic and alluring rail adventures in the Buckeye State.
Prepare to be transported in Cincinnati as delightfully smooth a cappella sounds from the Queen City Sisters fill the air when you step on board the historic Cincinnati Dinner Train, taking you back to another era. Indulge in a three-hour culinary excursion on the New York Central 447 dining car, authentically and beautifully restored to exact specs from 1947 with comfortable seating for 48 passengers. Relax with a classic cocktail and enjoy an elegant four-course gourmet dinner while traveling 25 miles along a historic route. Take another step back and enter the Oasis Tavern lounge car for a glass of port and a few more retro favorites from the entertaining trio.
Reserve one to four historic dining cars for a private event, accommodating up to 160 attendees. The host suggests encouraging guests to dress in 1940s period clothing to simulate a pampered evening on an authentic rail excursion. The Cincinnati Dinner Train will add the 1937 Silver Fountain, a rear-end rounded observation dining car, to the list of attractions in late 2019 (cincinnatirailway.com/dinnertrain).
Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway features a horseback heist, reenacted by costumed bandits. The train crew distributes fake money for role-playing passengers before departure. Just like Jesse James and his gang, the bad guys stop the train and collect the counterfeit cash at gunpoint. Don’t worry, though. Rumor has it, there is a new sheriff in town. Four robbery trains are scheduled to depart from the Nelsonville Depot in 2019 for two-hour excursions (hvsry.org).
Plan your Grape Escape in Independence. Climb aboard the Grape Escape train for an enjoyable evening of wine tasting as you wind down while weaving through 33,000 acres of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Sip five vintage samples and travel through the scenic valley on a two-hour ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Guests learn about featured wines, which are sampled in a commemorative CVSR tasting glass and paired with delicious appetizers. Various seating options are available for adults 21 and up. Custom group rates are available for 20 to 70 passengers on historic train cars (cvsr.org/grape-escape).
Travel the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail where, from 1827 to 1913, mules pulled canal boats laden with passengers and goods up and down the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. The train can be flagged down at any of the boarding stations by waving both arms over your head (one arm is just a friendly wave to the engineer).
Book your spirited group on one of many themed excursions, like the Bourbon Train. The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad offers historic train rides departing from downtown Lebanon. Ride in vintage railroad passenger cars hauled behind a hard-working diesel locomotive. The premium tasting experience includes seating in an exclusive deluxe car, samples of local spirits and a presentation from the featured distillery. Themed adult events last 90 minutes. Boarding begins an hour early so guests may enjoy early access to the tavern car (lebanonrr.com/bourbon).
Get ready to rock and roll in Wellington. The Lorain and West Virginia Railway introduces a new themed event in July. Rockabilly at the Railroad includes a rollicking ride, retro food and 60s dance music. Attendees are encouraged to dress in vintage attire and arrive in classic cars. Tickets go on sale 30-60 days prior to events and prices vary (lwvry.org).
The 1948 Ohio Railway Museum is one of America’s oldest railroad museums and home to the Ohio Public Service Interurban Car No. 21, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed to educate through displays and demonstrations, the museum offers a glimpse of railroading’s past through exhibits, static displays of steam engines and rides on an authentic Pullman passenger car. The museum is open May-December (ohiorailwaymuseum.org).