Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad
Elkins, West Virginia
From all-day excursions and multitrain adventures chugging through the well-preserved spruce forests of Cheat Mountain to dining and entertainment options that will satisfy the group’s most ardent locomotive appetites, the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad provides many options to make group trips customizable and memorable.
Opened by husband and wife team John and Kathy Smith, both self-proclaimed engine enthusiasts, the railroad has grown to include a collection of four unique and historic trains operating out of two separate locations: Elkins and Durbin. From April to December, groups can board the train for themed rides, such as the Polar Express during the holidays, the special murder mysteries throughout the season or the Star Gazing Special in September, or simply take in the stunning West Virginia views from their one-way seat in a dining or passenger car aboard a rare steam locomotive.
“Durbin is located in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, so it’s not really a heavily populated place at all — there’s no cell phone service out here,” explained Shane Yeager, reservations manager for Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad Inc. “John and Kathy built up the scenic tours with the Durbin Rocket, which is the Climax locomotive-powered steam train and is one of only three in the world. But I think people are just drawn to the natural beauty of the area; it just has sort of a going-back-in-time feel to it. When you ride the train, you really only hear the sound of the train and nature sounds, so it’s really peaceful.”
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train
Even though the Bardstown train dates to 1860, when it was used to provide freight and passenger services to the region, it wasn’t until 1988, one year after R.J. Corman bought the 20-mile branch, that My Old Kentucky Dinner Train performed its inaugural run as a full-service dining and scenic-tour experience for guests and groups.
Onboard one of these historic cars, groups can bear witness to unwrought wilderness and historical architecture, with special rides such as the lunch, dinner or murder-mystery experiences.
“Some customers’ favorite aspects of My Old Kentucky Dinner Train are enjoying the five-star meal as the breathtaking view of the beautiful Kentucky scenery rolls by the large window of each dining table,” said Gil Logan, executive chef onboard My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. “The dinner train blends a romantic past with a luxurious present and invites its riders to experience a lost time of train car dining and traveling.”
Scenic tours have been an important part of My Old Kentucky Dinner Train from the onset. But the train has played host to a number of other historic scenes, from transporting the body of President Dwight Eisenhower to his funeral to shipping handcrafted bourbon from the local distilleries across the globe.
“Regardless of the event, all customers can expect to be immersed in a historically enriched voyage,” Logan explained, “from the dinner cars built in the 1940s to the scenery and stories scattered across the Kentucky landscape.”