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Ride the Rails with TAP

Tourist Trains of West Virginia

West Virginia

On the Tourist Trains of West Virginia tour, a TAP Guaranteed Departure, U.S. Tours takes groups on several trains, both modern and historic. The New River Train is an Amtrak route that runs from either Huntington or Charleston, West Virginia, winding through the dramatic New River Gorge, a deeply carved canyon that’s known as the Grand Canyon of the East.

Depending on where passengers board, the three- or four-hour trip ends at the Greenbrier Resort’s rail station, where a bus picks up passengers. During the train ride, an onboard narrator describes the passing scenery, including old mining towns and two waterfalls — Kanawha Falls and Sandstone Falls — as well as the New River Gorge Bridge, under which the train passes.

Another day of the tour include two train rides on the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad’s historic trains. The first is the Cheat Mountain Salamander train that pulls passenger cars from the depot in the town of Elkins up the mountain to the High Falls of the Cheat River. There, passengers get off the train to visit the remote falls.

“That site is inaccessible by anything other than rail,” said Bob Cline, president of U.S. Tours. “The nearest road is five miles away.”

Passenger then board the train for a 21-mile scenic trip to the Cheat Bridge over the Cheat River, a trip that promises views of nothing but unspoiled wilderness, Cline said.

“There are no buildings in sight and no roads; you pass one house in 21 miles,” he said.

Travelers then take a bus to the town of Durbin to ride the Durbin Rocket. A 1910 coal-fired steam locomotive pulls historic coach cars and wood cabooses through the tree-filled Greenbrier River Valley that sits below Cheat Mountain.

“It runs up the Greenbrier River Valley, which is about 3,000 feet below the train they had just been on,” Cline said, adding that the trip is “scenic and rustic and just beautiful scenery.”