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Trip on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad 7/15/2006

by Chris Guenzler

Following an excellent continental breakfast at the South Branch Inn, we checked out and drove to the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad parking lot just north of Romney, West Virginia. Here I bought the tickets for today's trip and then walked back across the tracks to the highway to get the train's consist.

View of our train set.

Chesapeake & Ohio FP-7A 8016.

Chesapeake & Ohio 965 Gadsby's Tavern First Class.

Pere Marquette 113 Eagle Canon First Class.

Chesapeake & Ohio 1903 Chessie Club First Class.

Potomac Eagle 4956 Table Car.

Potomac Eagle 79 Snack Car.

Potomac Eagle 5061 Concession Car.

Potomac Eagle 5006 Coach.

Potomac Eagle 4978 Coach.

Potomac Eagle 4999 Coach.

Potomac Eagle 1158 Covered Open Car.

Potomac Eagle 1 open car.

Potomac Eagle F-7A 722. I returned back around the train and toured the museum cars.

The 722 will back onto our train set right before departure as not to block the grade crossing.

The inside of the museum car.

B&O Emblem of this line we are riding was once this railroads.

Each of the boards have at least one picture on them.

After an interesting look at the museum, I went outside and waited to board the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad train this July 15th morning. The train was loaded by groups at 11:00 AM. First, an Amish group from Altoona, second another group from Altoona and lastly general boarding. I settled into the 4999 coach and waited for the trip to start.

Passengers ready for our great train trip today.

Chris Parker relaxing before our trip starts.

A Brief History

This railroad has operated along the South Branch of the Potomac River for over a hundred years. The first railroad to build in the valley was the South Branch Railroad that completed the line from Green Springs to Romney on September 1st, 1884. A new company, the Hampshire Southern, built from Romney to Morefield in 1909 with service starting in 1910 to communities along the line. In 1911, the system was sold to the Morefield and Virginia Railroad Company. In 1913 the system was transferred to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Passenger service lasted only until 1928. The line ran until the mid-1970's when the B&O abandoned the line. The State of West Virginia took control of the line on October 11th, 1978. Track rebuilding then got underway on the 52 mile railroad. The flood of 1985 took out four bridges and heavily damaged 13 miles of track, with an additional 23 miles suffering moderate damage. The line was rebuilt again and in 1991, the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad ran their first train.

A Trip aboard the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad

At 11:35 AM our trip began as we headed south out of the loading area.

A house built in 1776.

More passenger equipment.

The valley looking south.

Our train crossing the South Branch of the Potomac River.

The train taking the big curve off of the bridge.

Covered car shop and the cab of a former Via F-unit.

The valley.

Crossing a small creek.

A 1789 House.

A Civil War ruin.

Old Plantation Wall.

Views of the South branch of the Potomac River and the valley.

Cool looking barn. I spotted a group of geese standing on the rocks in the river.

Near Sector, a gap on the Southside of the valley.

Here that the train was stopped and the open car was opened for all passengers to use until it filled up. Anyone who did not get into the open car going south could ride it northbound. The car is opened here because the train passes through the beautiful Trough where all the bald eagles are found. There are no roads into the Trough so it is just the train, the river and the bald eagles. I could not wait to enjoy this rail experience.

We had a fully loaded open car as we were ready to head south into the Trough. The Trough is where the South Branch of the Potomac River cuts through the mountains.

A deer then ran in front of the train then up the hill away from the river.

Passengers were on bald eagle watch as we entered the Trough.

Geese were on the bank of the river.

The Potomac River. A young bald eagle flying down river was spotted which started the passengers looking for and calling out whenever a bald eagle was spotted.

Mature Bald Eagle were was spotted next.

The pictures of the Trough.

Bald Eagle were flying down stream.

There was a Bald Eagle in a nest.

More pictures of the Trough.

Bald eagle in a tree.

The Trough is a peaceful and beautiful place.

We next saw a Bald Eagle nest.

More pictures of the Trough.

A look back.

The view back of the river with the rafters in this picture.

We ran below Eagle Rock.

More pictures of the Trough.

Rock layers near the top of the Trough.

Bald Eagle in the tree.

Crossing the South Branch of the Potomac River.

A look back into the Trough.

Our train passing a construction zone. We came to a stop and all passengers were required to leave the open car before we continued to Morefield, West Virginia, our turn-around point on this trip.

The train ran through McNeill, West Virginia.

A house on the hill.

The train ran along a cornfield.


A nice rural view.

House and the barn.

We have arrived at Morefield at 1:30 PM. Our crew switched ends and we then headed back to Romney. I just then sat back to enjoy the return trip. With just a few more pictures to take on the return trip which will be easy since I know where everything is.

Our train approaching the construction zone on the return trip with the C&O 8016 now leading us to Romney.

Looking north down into the Trough.

Looking up the South Branch of the Potomac River.

The train is crossing the bridge across the Potomac River.

The Bald Eagle was still sitting in his tree.

Rafters resting on a hot and very humid day. I bet the water feels good!

A view of our train along the South Branch of the Potomac River. After that they gave me a tour of the First Class Cars. These are the cars you would get to ride in if you paid for a First Class Ticket.

Inside of the Chesapeake & Ohio 1903 Chessie Club First Class.

Inside of the Pere Marquette 113 Eagle Canon First Class.

Inside of the Chesapeake & Ohio 965 Gadsby's Tavern First Class.

The kitchen inside the Gadsby's Tavern. I was then led into the C&O 8016 for a cab ride for the rest of the way back to Romney. Now sit back and enjoy this cab ride with me.

The view is great!

Approaching a siding.

Our engineer looking back to see if the rear end of our train has passed the end of a slow order.

Seeing a deer run in front of a train was really something.

Crossing a little creek.

Coming into a curve you always wonder what might be coming into view?

A cab ride was what gave the idea for the Dome Car.

Every cab ride I take is a thrill!

Closing in on Romney.

As we neared Romney, I thanked the engineer for this unique opportunity then went back through the train to pack up and be ready to detrain when we arrived. We arrived back in Romney at 3:13 PM ending a fantastic trip on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad. I recommend this trip to anyone who wants a great train ride, see great scenery and enjoy the bald eagles in the Trough.

For more info on this fantastic trip here is the link to their web site

or call 304-424-0736 for information & reservations.