Steam train excursion coming to Radford on March 9
Scenery, history and nostalgia are just around the bend in a spring steam train excursion offered by Norfolk Southern Corp., partnering with the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.
On Saturday, March 9, the Bristol to Radford Special will bring out the glories of the season through the rolling Southwest Virginia hills while celebrating the grand return of 21st-century steam with historic steam locomotive Southern Railway #630 from Tennessee Valley Railway Museum in Chattanooga. This rare opportunity is being offered to communities along Norfolk Southern lines for display and periodic excursions.
The train’s route will go through historic Abingdon, home of the world famous Barter Theatre and the Martha Washington Inn. Nearby is the famous route of the Virginia Creeper. The excursion will wind through the Virginia highlands, passing Emory & Henry College, Marion and Wytheville, and then will go down Pulaski Mountain through a tunnel and into the town of Pulaski. The train will then steam into the New River Valley and on to Radford, where passengers will be able to enjoy the town with its many restaurants, shops and museum. The Radford Visitor’s Center will be welcoming the passengers to town and will be providing maps and directions to city attractions.
The Saturday trip to Radford will leave the Bristol train station at 8 a.m., making a scheduled stop at Abingdon Train Station at 8:30 a.m. to pick up additional passengers. The train will arrive at Radford at noon and return to Bristol at 7 p.m.
The Southern Railway #630 operated on the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad out of Johnson City from 1952 to 1967. Steam Engine #630 will be assisted by powerful NS diesel to pull the 12-car train.
For many passengers, this excursion will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not only to ride behind a steam locomotive, but also to see the hills and mountains from the unique perspective of the railroad while hearing the whistle echo in the hills and hollows of the beautiful Appalachian Region.
Ticket cost is $65 per seat for passengers age 3 and older. Children younger than age 3 cannot occupy a seat. The ticket only includes the train trip and not a meal. The train will include climate-controlled heated and air conditioned cars along with restrooms.
Tickets can be purchased by calling (423) 894-8028. Office hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.wataugavalleynrhs.org.
– Submitted by Deborah Cooney, Director of Tourism, City of Radford