The Walkersville Southern Railroad is chug, chug, chugging into another season of pistons pumping and train whistles blaring. The nonprofit, supported mainly by volunteers who manage the railroad, will begin offering regular excursions starting in May and running until October rain or shine.
Train rides last about an hour and 10 minutes. The train itself travels about 10 mph along a line first used by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1872. This line runs by Fountain Rock Park, where folks can see the ruins of historic lime kilns and Heritage and Walkersville Community parks. At a stop near Wegman’s, guests get a view of the Catoctin Mountains.
Passenger cars used by the railroad date to the 1920s and have been painstakingly restored by dedicated volunteers. One of the most popular cars is the open-air flat-bed car, which offers guests the chance to see the picturesque countryside unencumbered by walls. Seating for all parts of the train are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Regular excursions occur twice on Saturdays from May to August and twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays from September to October.
While regular excursions are a fun way to spend part of the day, many guests buy tickets to attend the railroad’s special events. Two of the most popular train events occur around the holidays: the annual Santa Trains and Winter Express with Santa and Friends. New events this year include Wizard Express for those who are fans of the Harry Potter series, a history train discussing facts around the railroad and a pirates and pixies event. Some other beloved returning favorites are steam train rides in November, sensory-friendly excursion on July 30 and a Star-Spangled Fireworks special on July 8 with views of the local fire company’s carnival fireworks.
Dinner trains, running on the first Saturday of every month from May to November, and murder mystery trains, running the third Saturday of the same months, are also quite popular. Guests can enjoy a four-course meal catered by the Emmitsburg-based Carriage House Inn and table service in one of two dining cars. The railroad does not serve alcohol for the dinner trains, but adult guests can bring a favorite bottle of wine if they like.
If you’re thinking about booking a special event train ride, be sure to get your tickets early. The Mother’s Day lunch and four murder mystery trains have already sold out.
No matter which train ride fits you and your family’s desires to travel back in time by rail, the Walkersville Southern Railroad has an experience that will fit your needs.