Feb 13, 2012

Great train trips

There is something about the mournful sound of a train that calls for one to hop aboard and see the world. Some trains are legendary such as the Alaskan trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks and the Australian Ghan that now goes from Darwin to Adelaide. There are many trains worldwide that offer excellent experiences. Some travel short distances while others cover a whole continent.

1. Denali, Alaska: Maybe you won’t see any of Alaska’s famed wildlife on the ride between Anchorage and Fairbanks but scenery from the double decked dome rail cars will mesmerize as it enters the Nenana River Canyon and crosses the Tanana River on one of the world’s longest single-span bridges.
2. Fort Bragg Smoke Train: The California train chugs through towering trees, tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows on what is known as the “Redwood Route” following the same route it has since 1885. On the Northspur Route a barbecue in the redwood forest is included.
3. Polar Express: Nearly every state has a Polar Express that takes the young and young-at-heart to the North Pole while the book of the same name is read, cookies are served, and songs sung. When it arrives at Santa’s workshop, the jolly fellow boards the train and gives those who believe a bell – just like in the book.
4. Verde Canyon: Located in Arizona near Jerome and Sedona the train runs from Clarkdale to Perkinsville through the walls of Verde Canyon, near ancient Native American sites, with bald eagles watching from their nests.
5. Greenfield Village: Some historic villages have incorporated trains as part of preserving their heritage. Such is the case of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Michigan where visitors can tour the village on a train pulled by one of the village’s historic steam or diesel locomotives.
6. Adirondack Railroad: Hop on board the train in Utica, New York, and head to Thendara through the forests, past pristine rivers, breathing the fresh mountain air while enjoying the beauty of the six-million acre Adirondack Park. Relive the golden age of railroading when the Adirondacks played host to the rich and famous on their way to the Great Camps.
7. Strasburg, Pennsylvania: Ride through Pennsylvania Dutch Country on the Strasburg Railroad that started in 1832. It didn’t purchase its first passenger car until 1861 when President Lincoln made his inaugural train ride to nearby Lancaster and nearly 5,000 people showed up to cheer for Lincoln during his four-minute stop in Leaman.
8. Peru’s Hiram Bingham: One of the most luxurious train trips is aboard the Orient Express train to the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu. The day starts sipping mimosas while watching folk dances followed by gourmet meals with a guided tour of the ruins, along with the excellent service one comes to expect of the Orient Express.
9. The Little Trains of Wales: There are several narrow gauge steam railways in Wales, some of which have been in operation for over 100 years. They have been lovingly restored and maintained. They offer a leisurely ride through the beautiful countryside, past lakes to small picturesque villages.
10. Australia’s Legendary Ghan: One way to get the feel of the immensity of Australia is to take the Ghan between Adelaide and Darwin witnessing the varied landscape and traveling through the vast barrenness of the Outback. The entire trip of nearly 2000 miles takes about 24 hours.