Railway Preservation News

National Parks with rail access
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Author:  Dougvv [ Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  National Parks with rail access


Over on the Interchange forum, there is a thread on preservation railways.

I have a question that is tangentially associated with it.

Grand Canyon National Park had the AT&SF branch servicing. Yellowstone National Park had rail access to West Yellowstone, Idaho (I do not recall which railroad owned the line). Yosemite National Pak had rail access via (IIRC) Yosemite Valley Railroad.

1) How many National Parks had rail access.

2) How many ot those lines have ramained in tact (mo neccissarily operating). An example is the Grand Canyon Railroad


Doug vV

Author:  J3a-614 [ Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

The National Parks that I can recall having rail access include or included:

Grand Canyon--ATSF branch, connected to the main line at Williams, Az.

Yosemite National Park--Yosemite Valley Railroad, connecting to the SP at Merced, Ca.

Yellowstone National Park had the Northern Pacific, Union Pacific, and Burlington service to it, in some cases by stagecoach connections.


The Great Northern Railway served Glacier National Park through Whitefish, Mont. Amtrak's edition of the Empire Builder still goes there, and reportedly Whitefish is one of the busier stations on the route.

http://outdoors.visittheusa.com/rails-e ... park-train

If you haven't read them, I recommend "Trains of Discovery: Railroads and the Legacy of the National Parks" and "Allies of the Earth: Railroads and the Soul of Preservation," both by Alfred Runte. The first book describes how railroads influenced the creation of the National Park System; the latter is a commentary on how railroads, not always by intent, helped to preserve the landscape--and can do so today.

Both are also good reads.

http://www.amazon.com/Trains-Discovery- ... 1570984425

http://tsup.truman.edu/product/allies-o ... servation/


Author:  Bobharbison [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Amtrak's Empire Builder has three stations very close to Glacier NP. East Glacier and West Glacier, which are, as the names imply, at the east and west boundaries of the park and on the southern edge. The third is Essex, MT, roughly halfway between them, which is a flagstop for the Izaak Walton Inn.

Whitefish isn't as close, but as noted above it's far more active. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there is a city there, with services, rental cars, lodging etc, while East and West Glacier are more remote. The second is that it is a very popular ski destination, so it gets summer traffic for Glacier NP and winter ski traffic.

Author:  Bobharbison [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Mt Rainier National Park was also served by train, though the track didn't actually go into the park. There was a spur off of the Tacoma Eastern (later Milwaukee) that left the main at Park Junction and went to the town of National. From there, guests board carriages and later buses for the rest of the trip.

Numerous proposals have been floated to run trains from Tacoma to Elbe, Park Junction or National (all are within a few miles of one another) but nothing has ever come of them and the City of Tacoma seems to have lost interest. American Orient Express did run as far as Eatonville a few times.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

I just happened to recall that the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is preserved as a National Park, with its towpath being used as a trail that's something like 185 miles long. It parallels the Potomac River from Georgetown (just outside of Washington, DC) to Cumberland, Md. Much of it is right next to CSX's former Baltimore & Ohio main line, which does have MARC commuter service from Washington to Martinsburg, W.Va. , and Amtrak service via the Capitol Limited from Washington to Cumberland, Md. and continuing on to Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Stations that could be used for access include Point of Rocks and Brunswick, Md. (MARC only), Harpers Ferry, W.Va. (Amtrak and MARC), and Cumberland, Md. (Amtrak only). One might add the Western Maryland Scenic at Cumberland as well; the canal ends right at the big brick station for that road, where it also connects with the Great Allegheny Passage Trail (former Western Maryland main line to Connelsville, Pa.), and shared with the WMSR to No. 9 switch, just outside of Frostburg.

Author:  Randy Hees [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Death Valley (then not a National Park) had service via the Tonopah and Tidewater and Death Valley Railroad (narrow gauge). The two railroads were controlled by Pacific Coast Borax which owned the hotel at Death Valley Jct, at Ryan (Death Valley View Lodge?) the Furnace Creek Ranch, and would build the Furnace Creek Lodge. A EMD gas electric (standard gauge) and a Brill gas mechanical (narrow gauge) rail cars were purchased for this service.

Union Pacific also offered tours of Death Valley including stays at the PCB facilities via bus.

Union Pacific built the lodges at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, at Zion, and at Bryce, and offered connecting service via bus through their Utah Parks subsidiary... they also offered day tours to Boulder City and Hover Dam, and thought the 1970's offered Las Vegas casino packages.


Author:  Al Stangenberger [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Muir Woods National Monument had railroad access from Mill Valley CA via the Mount Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway until 1930.

Author:  Dougvv [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access


Lots of good information.

I feel so dumb. I've always wanted to ride Amtrak to Glacier NP to see a glacier.

Doug vV

Author:  Bobharbison [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Dougvv wrote:
I feel so dumb. I've always wanted to ride Amtrak to Glacier NP to see a glacier.

Doug vV

That is still possible, though there are far fewer than there once were. You can take Amtrak to East or West Glacier, and with a bit of advance arrangement, be picked up and taken to your hotel in or near Glacier National Park.

The park and the Great Northern Railway are linked in many ways. The Izaak Walton Inn was originally a railroad boarding house, and the rooms on one side have en excellent view of the mainline.

Other structures in the park also have a railroad history. For example, the Many Glaciers Hotel was also built by Great Northern. Located in a remote corner of the park (which is already remote to begin with) the Many Glaciers Hotel has a nice view of, you guessed it, many glaciers. Not nearly as many as there once were, even though many folks say global warming is a myth. I don't know the cause, but I do know the glaciers are far fewer and much smaller.

You can also still ride on the historic "red jammer" buses. They've been upgraded, and to be honest I'm not sure how much is original and how much is newer, but they've kept the vintage look and feel and they're really cool to see!

Author:  Randolph R. Ruiz [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 7:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

This may not be perfect, but the following is a list of all current national parks. I have listed every railroad that either entered the park, or had a station within a couple miles of the park’s entry. I have also listed some of the connections possible via motor coach, especially if the railroad had a close relationship with the park. Many of these parks are somewhat new, and were not considered National Parks during the pre-Amtrak era. Since the scenery didn’t get any better upon their designation, they are listed all the same. Some of these connections are still possible, whereas many have been abandoned.

Let me know of corrections, and I can update this.

Alphabetic listing of current U.S. National Parks:

    Acadia - Maine Central via ferry (abnd)
    American Samoa - N/A
    Arches - No - UP's (DRGW) Caine Creek Branch (1965) at main entrance
    Badlands - Milwaukee Road (abnd)
    Big Bend - No - Motor coach to SP or ATSF
    Biscayne - No
    Black Canyon of the Gunnison - DRGW (abnd)
    Bryce Canyon - No - Motor coach to UP
    Canyonlands - No - UP's (DRGW) Caine Creek Branch comes close
    Capitol Reef - No
    Carlsbad Caverns - No - Motor coach to ATSF
    Channel Islands - No - But private cars went by barge to Avalon once
    Congaree - Bordered by NS
    Crater Lake - No - Motor coach to SP
    Cuyahoga Valley - Cuyahoga Valley Scenic (B&O)
    Death Valley - Death Valley (ng) (abnd)
    Denali - Alaska
    Dry Tortugas - Nope
    Everglades - Atlantic Coast Line (abnd)
    Gates of the Arctic - No
    Glacier - GN
    Glacier Bay - No
    Grand Canyon - ATSF (GCRy) - motor coach to UP
    Grand Teton - No
    Great Basin - No
    Great Sand Dunes - No
    Great Smoky Mountains - No - Great Smoky Mountains Scenic (Southern) comes close
    Guadalupe Mountains - No
    Haleakalā - No
    Hawaiʻi Volcanoes - No
    Hot Springs - MoPac
    Isle Royale - No
    Joshua Tree - No - motor coach to SP
    Katmai - No
    Kenai Fjords - No
    Kings Canyon - No - motor coach to SP
    Kobuk Valley - No
    Lake Clark - No
    Lassen Volcanic - No - motor coach to SP
    Mammoth Cave - L&N
    Mesa Verde - No - motor coach to ATSF & Rio Grande Southern (ng)
    Mount Rainier - No - motor coach to Milwaukee, NP
    North Cascades - 1st Skagit River Railway - motor coach to GN (abnd)
    Olympic - Milwaukee? (abnd)
    Petrified Forest - ATSF
    Pinnacles - No - motor coach to SP
    Redwood - No
    Rocky Mountain - No
    Saguaro - No - motor coach to SP
    Sequoia - No - motor coach to SP via Visalia Electric
    Shenandoah - B&O - motor coach to N&W
    Theodore Roosevelt - NP
    Virgin Islands - N/A
    Voyageurs - No - motor coach to Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific?
    Wind Cave - No - motor coach to CNW, CBQ?
    Wrangell–St. Elias - Copper River and Northwestern (abnd)
    Yellowstone - NP & UP (OSL) (abnd)
    Yosemite - Yosemite Valley RR (contrary to name, tracks didn't enter the valley) (abnd)
    Zion - No - Motor Coach to UP

Author:  bigjim4life [ Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

I'm assuming we're not counting the many National Historic Sites and National Battlefield Parks in this? Because that's an entire new list right there.

Author:  Randy Hees [ Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

This subject is quite complicated, and the discussion can go in many directions…

Before starting, I note that the Gettysburg Railway, and electric trolley, was built in 1893, primarily to provide tours of the battlefield… It was controversial even then… There were other proposals to build "tour railroads" in parks which never reached construction.

Back to the main subject… We need to understand that the relationship between parks and railroads has changed over time… In 1916 when the NPS was founded (National parks had existed much longer… Yosemite was set aside by Lincoln, but given to the state of CA, and becoming a National Park in 1890, Yellowstone was the first designated “National Park” dating to 1872 ) there were only 14 national parks… Some of the current parks like Pinnacles did not exist as preserved places during the era of railway travel. Some later parks were promoted by railroads as tourist destinations before they became parks…

To a lesser extent we need to understand that the National Park Service (founded in 1916) manages National Parks, National Monuments, Battle Fields, the National Buffalo refuge, and the various monuments found in Washington DC… But other sites are operated by other Federal Agencies… there are National Recreation Areas, and sites like Hoover Dam (run by Bureau of Reclamation) or other dams run by Corps of Engineers… One National Park (Escalante Grand Staircase) is run by the Bureau of Land Management.

On one extreme is an inventory of parks and the nearest railroad, without questioning if there was any relationship between the park and the railroad beyond geographical proximity… (see the link to the NPS report below) For example, modern railroads run through many of the Civil War battlefields… at least in part because railroads were one of the things both sides fought over… today the railroad remains. The
National park service has a inventory of railroads in parks https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... 6w&cad=rja

On the other extreme, the railroads and the parks share a history, because the railroad provided service to the park, either directly or via railroad controlled bus or stages, and worked to promote the park, and may have built and or owned the park lodges. The Great Northern built the grand lodges at Glacier (you can still disembark from Amtrak at East Glacier and walk across the lawn to the park lodge, while hotel staff will deliver your luggage) Yellowstone was served by Northern Pacific from Gardner, and NP built many of the hotels in the park. UP served Yellowstone from West Yellowstone, and both Milwaukee CB&Q and C&NW served the park from the east… UP at the urging of NPS built the lodges at Zion, Bryce, North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Cedar Breaks… and served them via its Cedar City branch and its Utah Parks subsidiary.

Santa Fe (through Fred Harvey) built the facilities at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but also promoted Petrified Forest/Painted Desert (the gift shop at Petrified Forest is still run by Fred Harvey and says so) and to a large extent “invented” the concept of the south west (and its indians) through its promotions.

The tourist facilities at Death Valley were developed by Pacific Coast Borax and served by their railroads, the Tonopah and Tidewater and the Death Valley Railroad, and later by Utah Parks. Even before the creation of Death Valley National Monument (now a National Park)

The Alaska Railroad serves Denali… and built the original lodge, and used railroad cars to replace that lodge when it burned… Even today a significant number of visitors arrive via train.

Per a 1916 NPS brochure about Mount Rainier “The Mt Rainier National Park is so accessible that on may get a brief close-by glimpse in one day. The new railroad slogan, “Four hours from Tacoma to the Glaciers” tells the story””

Mammoth Caves (before it was a park) was served by a steam dummy line… and the NPS preserves one of the dummies at the park.

Yosemite is complicated. The park was first served by stage coach from the Southern Pacific owned branch line, then more directly by the Yosemite Valley Railroad… the lodges were controlled by others, but Southern Pacific promoted the park (and others like Sequoia) extensively. Southern Pacific also promoted the California Missions, “Big Trees” Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake… Sunset Magazine was originally a SP owned in house promotional publication.

Finally there are two National Parks which specifically celebrate railroads: Steamtown and Golden Spike National Monument.


Author:  Alan Walker [ Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park had rail access to the main battlefield via the Central of Georgia Railway and access to park units on Lookout Mountain via the Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain Railway (later acquired by Chattanooga Railway and Light) and the Lula Lake and Lookout Incline Nos. 1 and 2. Access to the unit on Missionary Ridge was via CR&L.

Author:  G. W. Laepple [ Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: National Parks with rail access

Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania had rail service at both Valley Forge and Port Kennedy until the demise of the Reading's passenger service. I'm not sure whether the SEPTA train to Reading, discontinued a few years later, made stops at either place.

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