posted by Neil Myers
Train buffs and nature lovers alike agree that the Potomac Eagle out of Romney, West Virginia, is an ideal way to see West Virginia at its best, particularly in October’s fall foliage season. The operators don’t guarantee that you will see an eagle, but say that eagle sightings occur on over 90% of their trips.
Fortunately for our guests here at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, the train’s starting point in Romney is only a little over an hour away, making the 11:00 a.m. departure time quite doable following our delicious breakfast that starts at 8:30. We can get you on the road by 9:00 a.m. See directions to the train station from the inn here.
The 3-hour narrated excursion winds past historic farms and through the narrow mountain valley created by the South Branch of the Potomac River, rather inelegantly named “The Trough”.
The train is hauled by a vintage 1950’s locomotive. There are open air cars with benches, open air covered cars, passenger coaches with seats that reverse for the return trip, cars with seating at tables, a snack bar, and first class dining cars complete with Chesapeake and Ohio china and tableware.
The TripAdvisor reviews are overwhelmingly positive, although there are a few grumblings that the “gourmet” food isn’t really, that the train was too hot, too cold, too basic, etc. Just don’t expect the Orient Express — it IS West-By-God-Virginia after all — and “Wild and Wonderful” is what it’s all about. Tips gleaned from Trip Advisor:
- sit on the left for best views,
- bring a picnic lunch if you are picky about food,
- bring warmer clothing in the fall than you might think you would need, and
- travel mid-week if you want to avoid children and just generally have a better experience.
In addition, our suggestions are:
- plan on staying at the inn two nights (the nights before and after your trip), and
- if you are still up for more scenery after your train ride, return to the inn by way of routes 220 and 55–it’s only 30 minutes longer than the shorter route and takes you past entirely different scenery.
The Potomac Eagle runs on a Saturday-only schedule through September, and starts October daily service on October 3. Check their website for more information including schedules and prices.