Railway Preservation News

Short Tourist Lines
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Author:  Jason Whiteley [ Fri Oct 08, 2004 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Short Tourist Lines

Of the operating tourist lines in North America, which ones operate with less than say, 3 miles of track? What you they do to bring people in for what I presume would be short ride, still make it an interesting experience, and keep them coming back?


Author:  Erik Ledbetter [ Fri Oct 08, 2004 3:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Well what can I think of offhand. I assume you are excluding trolley museums:

B&O Museum excursion, 1 mile--a small attraction adjuct to a large museum

North Carolina Transportation Museum--same format as B&O

Feather River at Portola--again, adjunct to a museum

White Mountain Central--adjunct to Clark's Trading Post, one of the last great old-style roadside attractions

Midwest Central Railroad--adjunct to Old Threshers Reunion steam show

CT Antique Machinery show--same format as Old Threshers

Georgetown Loop--short trip, but spectacular, located in prime heritage tourist area next to interstate highway

Wannamaker, Kempton, & Southern--family-friendly atmosphere, attention to important details like parking and restrooms, excellent customer service

WW&F--like WK&S, a focus on good service, friendliness, & enthusiasm

Maine Narrow Gauge museum--located in town in a significant urban market

That's what comes to mind offhand. The keys seem to be co-location with a larger attraction, convenience, excellent family-oriented service or more than one of the above.

Author:  Randy Hees [ Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Our museum has just over a mile of "mainline" but typically only use about half.

What we offer is the only horse powered historic railroad ride available. Addtionally we are part of a "living history" historic farm complex, including a historic house, a active blacksmith shop, seasonal farm activities including a chance to help harvest our corn, wheat (with a steam tractor) walnuts, potatos and hay.

We gave just over 60,000 rides last year on that half mile of track.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Fri Oct 08, 2004 8:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

I, too, initially considered the B&O Museum as a "short" ride, but as it only supplements a much larger museum (ditto NCTM), didn't want to include it lest I got accused of more "B&O Museum bashing".

Also in the same sort of cubbyhole is the ride at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisc., surely the prototype for every Christmas-tree loop of track. I didn't get a measurement, but it has to be well under a mile total in loop--possibly even a half-mile.

For the moment, I would also nominate the flood-shortened Wilmington & Western RR, running on maybe a mile and a half of undamaged track for the duration.

Author:  John Redden [ Sat Oct 09, 2004 7:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Our Rochester & Genesee Valley RR Museum + New York Museum of Transportation complex has a line that's roughly one and a half miles long.
We have an operation that we believe is unique in North America - two rail oriented museums that are connected by our own rail line. It has a nice variety of scenery, for such a short ride, and the collections of the two Museums, when considered together, offer the visitor a relatively large number of pieces of equipment to view.

However, as with any volunteer-based organization, NYMT + R&GVRRM sucesses are primarily due to the dedication of their respective volunteers.

Author:  Dave [ Sat Oct 09, 2004 8:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Southeastern railway Museum in Duluth, GA operates a short demonstration. Hopefully, in a couple years a rail connection between the roundhouse and visitors center will be developed in Savannah. There is a remnant of the ET&WNC near Elizabethton, TN, that has been operated occasionally. Charlotte Trolley has a short run across town. New Hope Valley RR - 4.5 miles. How much of the R&R does SCRM use?


Author:  John Bohon [ Sat Oct 09, 2004 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

The railroad at the Williams Grove Steam Show in PA is a little over a mile in length.

The mainline at Tennessee Valley Raiload Museum is 3 miles long. With a turntable to turn the locomotive at East Chattanooga, a wye to turn the whole train at Grand Junction, several bridges, and a tunnel it is as well conceived as any you will find. This is still their primary passenger route. The longer runs are on their own shortline, NS, and the C&C.

New Hope Valley in Bonsal, NC is also about three miles long as I recall.

I think the Durbin Rocket operating out of Durbin, WV has only restored about three miles of track to date.

How many miles does Walkersville Southern operate these days? I know it is prettty short.

John Bohon

Author:  Erik Ledbetter [ Sat Oct 09, 2004 9:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

How many miles does Walkersville Southern operate these days? I know it is prettty short.

John Bohon

Almost five, actually, since they got over the Monocacy and down to Route 26. But they too offer some ideas about how to keep 'em coming back. An unabashed tourist road rather than a museum, WS offers a constant stream of special events, very family oriented--clown day with face painting, Civil War days, ride with your doll day, murder mystery dinners, 4th of July fireworks trains, you name it. They put a huge amount of effort into marketing events targeted at their local community. Most of their riders are from within 50 miles.

Author:  Ted Miles [ Sun Oct 10, 2004 10:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Thw very narrow gauge WW&F Ry Museum is Maine is working this very weekend on their track which is about 2 miles long.

See the posts for today as they put down a run around siding.

Proving that you do not have to be a long ride to be a success, is the Strasburg RR one of the top steam tourist railroads in the country and it is something like 4.5 or 5 miles long.

Ted Miles

Author:  mikefrommontana [ Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

The Alder Gulch Shortline's run in Montana is about 1.5 miles and connects Virginia City and Nevada City (the latter mostly reconstruction with endangered gold rush period buildings from elsewhere). The train is wyed at both ends. In many respects we are a people mover, but also one of the attractions that is visited even if the towns are not.
Of course this applies to the steam engine on weekends (30"gauge). Still, even the gas mechanical (rebuilt speeder car frames), pulls a respectable number of passengers during the week, moving visitors between the two towns.

Author:  Dave [ Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

What about that little park railroad in Powys, California?


Author:  Ed Fritz [ Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Randy Hees wrote:
Our museum has just over a mile of "mainline" but typically only use about half.

What we offer is the only horse powered historic railroad ride available.

Randy, I cross posted your web site on a horse board. One of the horse people was interested in knowing how the horses pull the car. Is the horse between the rails walking on the ballast or if you use a team, are the horses walking out side the ties?

For the railroad folks, who knows what a whiffletree is?


Author:  Randy Hees [ Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

The horse (usually a single horse) walks between the rails. We ballast with a local dirt typically used as base rock for roads. It is mostly dirt, but drains ok (not well, just ok.) We ballast up to and slightly over the tops of the ties.

If we needed two horses (we don’t) we would use a tandem team, one horse in front of the other. This is not a great way to team horses… the rear member of the team does most of the work, but it is historically correct.

A horse’s maximum tractive effort is 1.5 times their weight. We figure a car requires about 400 lbs of pull on our railroad. With our 2,000 lb horses, we figure on 3,000 lbs of tractive effort, or 7 cars… So we have only used a team for photographs.

We use a single tree for a single horse…

Author:  Ed Fritz [ Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Short Tourist Lines

Thanks, Randy.

You also have the same problems with a "four-in-hand" team which is why traditionally the lead pair are smaller than the "wheelers." Also, only the horse(s) hooked directly to the load (car or wagon) can be used to retard or stop the rolling load because of the way the harness is rigged. Great care is needed when working on a grade so you don't over run your team. I've driven a team of Belgians, I never drove enough for the guy teaching me to drive to trust me on a grade with a four-in-hand team. There's an art to keeping the lead pair from getting in the way of the wheelers but not trying to pull the wagon down hill against the wheelers' efforts to hold the wagon on the grade.

Edited to add, if you don't have shafts or a tree on the car, I guess you have to rely on the car brakes and can't use "dynamic" braking from your quadrapeds.


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