Whether you just love trains or want to enjoy rugged, scenic beauty, there are several historic trains in West Virginia that you can hop on for a tour. We checked out the Durbin Rocket, which offers an amazing train ride.

It is a steam-driven locomotive that runs along tracks constructed by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad as the Greenbrier Division. The Greenbrier Division served numerous sawmills as one of the C&O’s main branch lines for hauling timber products. Also, it was an important branch of the C&O for freight and passenger traffic. Today, the locomotive takes travelers through the remote and stunning mountains as a tourist train.

 
Preparing to board the Durbin Rocket
Preparing to board the Durbin Rocket

Onboard, I was filled in on the history of this route by Matt Scott. “It’s really interesting to think that Durbin, this little tiny town that we left out of, used to be a big, bustling production town. Where the train was the lifeline of what these people lived on, what they worked at.”

Riding on the Durbin Rocket with Matt Scott
Riding on the Durbin Rocket with Matt Scott

Along the Greenbrier River, a five and a half mile route travels through heavily wooded areas. In the past, this area would have been dotted with small mill towns and logging operations. 

According to Matt, a lot of the area that you see on the train ride is only accessible by rail. As a result, this makes for views of unspoiled wilderness. 

“You may see some foot traffic or hikers, but as far as automobiles or any other types of transportation, it’s a really unspoiled, natural way to see things,” said Matt, as we rode the rails in the open-air car.

Riding through the woods
Riding through the woods.

The Durbin Rocket locomotive was built in 1926 by the Heisler Locomotive Company in Erie, PA. Known as a 3-truck, Class C, 90 ton geared logging locomotive, it was built for power and versatility, and it hauled logs to the mill and operated for 40 years.

For those with a sense of adventure and that book way far in advance, part of this trip can include an overnight stay in an original Wabash Railroad caboose. Remarkably, it has been refurbished with modern amenities. During your stay, you’ll literally be cast off on your own in the woods. Then, you’ll be picked up at a later date for your railroad camping adventure. 

Wabash Railroad Caboose
Wabash Railroad Caboose

Watch this episode on Ovation TV’s Journy and more of the Travels with Darley series on PBS and Amazon Prime.