The shriek of an old-fashioned train whistle, deep in the forest of Pocahontas County, W.Va., is no fantasy. Mountain Rail Adventures, offered by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, operates historic steam-driven locomotives and vintage diesel-powered passenger trains that depart the three historic depots of Elkins, Durbin, and Cass.
Locomotives haul passengers up an 11 percent grade (a 2 percent grade is considered steep on conventional railroads) using several switchbacks. The view is stupendous. If the children get antsy, tell them to look for the black bears that show up regularly on several routes.
If training stirs your appetite, consider a meal on the Mountain Explorer. Its Mother’s Day special includes a four-course dinner en route to the High Falls of the Cheat River. Cookouts and picnics on a two-train adventure up Cheat Mountain are on tap for May 23 and June 21.
On June 12, adults can enjoy the fruits of West Virginia vineyards on the High Falls Wine Train. The tour includes wine, lodging, and admission to the wine festival at Stonewall Resort. On June 27, riders share the scary Murder Mystery Dinner Train with witches and warlocks. Can you pick out the baddie or will you be the next victim? (mtn-rail.com)