WORTH THE DRIVE: Hop aboard a scenic railroad tour of the Hocking Valley

In search of a day trip that will entertain the whole family? The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway might be the answer.

For the past few decades, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway has offered a unique way to traverse the idyllic landscapes of Nelsonville, Hocking Hills, Athens and the surrounding area. Each weekend, guests are able to board a historic train at the Nelsonville Depot and embark upon an hour-and-a-half or two-hour train ride to see sights like an old canal lock from the Hocking Canal, the remains of the Nelsonville Brick Company, the original depot at Haydenville and more.

Over 140 years ago, in 1867, construction began on what was then called the Columbus & Hocking Valley Railroad, a stretch of railroad tracks between Columbus and the Hocking Valley that was used to transport the area’s salt and coal to other portions of the state. Now, guests can ride along these historically significant tracks in trains that were built using historic equipment from the early 20th century. This historic equipment includes a “combination baggage-passenger car (with working coal stove in the winter; no A/C) built for a Baltimore & Ohio predecessor in 1917; three commuter coaches built around 1923 and 1927 for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (heated in winter; no A/C); a day coach built in the 1930s for the Baltimore & Ohio (car has A/C and heat); and two converted freight cars used as open-air passenger cars,” according to the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s website.

Currently, guests can choose between a number of different train experiences, like the hour-and-a-half-long Haydenville-bound train, the two-hour-long East Logan-bound train, the Caboose Train ride, which features multiple cabooses and the Ohio’s Friendliest Robbery Train, where passengers will be robbed of their fake money by a group of bandits on horseback at some point throughout the ride. Beginning in October and moving forward through the holiday season, guests will have a chance to embark upon special holiday train rides, like the Fall Foliage, Halloween, and Christmas-themed train rides. Prices start at $16 per person and vary depending on the train ride. Children between the ages of three and 12, senior citizens over the age of 60 and members of the military can receive discounted rates. Most train rides take place on weekends.

Guests will board each train ride at the Nelsonville Train Depot, located at 33 W Canal Street in Nelsonville. This location is also where the train ride ends. Most of the regular weekend trips, unless otherwise noted, include a 30-minute stop at Robbins Crossing, a recreated pioneer village on the campus of Hocking College.

Credit: Isaac Miller

Credit: Isaac Miller

There are no bathrooms aboard the trains and and the locomotives do rock side to side throughout the ride.

Due to the current mandates, guests are required to wear face masks and maintain proper social distancing while on board the trains. Though food and drinks will not be sold on the train, guests are permitted to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to consume while riding the train.

For a full list of train schedules and to purchase your tickets, pay a visit to the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s website.

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