I know lots of adults who’ve never outgrown their childhood fascination with trains. And while I don’t have the patience to sit beside railroad tracks for hours with my camera in hand like some of the hardcore rail buffs I’ve met, I’ll admit that I have been known to go out of my way to watch a passing train roll by.
If you’re equally smitten with railroading (or know someone who is), you’ll want to take note of these three new additions to my growing list of extraordinary experiences:
There’s no shortage of scenic excursion trains in the world, but this Ely, Nevada museum is the only place I know of where you can actually take the controls of a vintage steam-powered locomotive (diesel-electric engines are also available) as you roll down the main-line tracks under the supervision of an experienced engineer. Some cool video here.
While most folks would avoid a hotel where trains rumble by day and night, that’s precisely the attraction at this five-room trackside B&B. Accommodations are simple (twin beds with no phones or televisions), but that doesn’t seem to deter rail fans who gather on the front porch to watch the 70-plus passenger and freight trains that roll by on any given day. A host of other nearby railroading attractions make this Pennsylvania inn about as close to train-geek nirvana as you’re ever likely to find.
This 52,000 square-foot warehouse about an hour west of New York City is an example of what happens when one man’s toy train obsession gets a little out of hand. But, as obsessions go, this is a pretty cool one, with more than 100 trains rolling along 50,000 feet (that’s roughly 9 miles) of track in a display that’s earned the distinction of being one of the world’s largest model railroads.