Besides Ohio's early canals, railroads played and still play an important part of our commerce. America's first regular commercial rail service was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad which started in 1828. The Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad became the first regular rail service to operate from Ohio in 1837.
By 1850 there was a rail boom in Ohio and by 1860 there was more railroad track laid in Ohio than any other state with almost 3000 miles of track connecting every major community in Ohio. While many might think that railroads are a thing of the past, today Ohio has more than 5,230 miles of working rail lines crossing the state.
Most of the passenger lines have disappeared from Ohio. Amtrak still offers regular train service across Ohio's north coast with stations at Alliance, Cleveland, Elyria, Sandusky, Toledo, and Bryan Ohio. In the south, there are stops only in Cincinnati, but on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, there are Amtrak stops at Ashland, South Shore, and Maysville KY.
There are still several scenic railroads in regular operation providing visitors an opportunity to experience what rail travel was like.. Many of the scenic railroads that were once popular throughout the state have found the economy to be more of a problem than keeping their rolling stock in good condition.
Ohio has about 10 operating scenic railroads that provide periodic excursions through the country and that number is likely to grow. Just recently, the new Lodi Station Outlets has included a rail line to their shopping experience so shoppers can ride the rails and shop at the same location.
Here is a list of the major operating scenic railroads in Ohio:
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Northeastern Ohio runs through the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Each trip is a different adventure filled with fun, excitement, natural beauty and historic sights. Spend a little or a lot of time exploring the things you like to see and do. You'll ride comfortably in vintage climate-controlled coaches built between 1939 and 1940. The coaches originally saw passenger service on the Seaboard and Santa Fe Railroads. Sit back, relax and enjoy a train ride to many exciting round trip destinations. It's all waiting for you. The train. The trips. The sights. The professional staff. Get on Board. Please consult their web site for schedules, where to buy tickets and seasonal specials.
Take a leisurely ride through the beautiful hills of southeastern Ohio. Enjoy the blooming dogwood trees in the spring, summertime fun, nature's spectacular fall foliage or a special winter ride with Santa. The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offers diesel-powered rides through the beautiful, rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio aboard vintage equipment. The coaches used were built in 1927 for commuter service around Chicago and the primary diesel locomotive we use was built back in October of 1952. The coaches are heated in the winter. Regular service rides are held on weekends throughout the summer months from Memorial Day thru Labor Day and special rides at Christmas, Easter and a number of other special rides including a train robbery and a murder mystery ride.
While visiting the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, also visit the Nelsonville's Historic Square Arts District.
The Byesville Scenic Railway has stopped offering train excursions. Plans for future excursion offerings are undecided at this time, but according to their web site they are hopeful that circumstances will change. They do have a memorial statue dedicated to the Coal Miner's contribution to Ohio's industry and a special museum featuring coal miner's equipment and artifacts.
The scenic rail trips are no longer in operation at this time. They are hoping to have the trips resume as quickly as possible. They are offering motor car rides.
Experience a nostalgic train ride on the Lebanon Mason Monroe (LM&M) Railroad through Warren County in Southwestern, Ohio. Every weekend the LM&M invites you to reminisce and capture moments with family. Walk through the train to the open-air gondola and listen to informative conductors describe railroad history and operation as well as offer a brief locomotive tour.
Formerly known as the Lebanon and Turtlecreek Railway, the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad (LM&M) operates out of the beautiful Lebanon Station, in historic downtown Lebanon, Ohio. The train consists of a restored 1950s-era GP-7 diesel-electric locomotive, four open-window commuter coaches built in 1930, and a popular open-air gondola car on the rear of the train that allows passengers to enjoy panoramic views.
Throughout the season, they often have other locomotives head up the tour trains like the above Flagg Coal Company #75 that took part in their "All Steamed Up!" excursions in June 2008. This is a small, industrial-type engine, with an 0-4-0 wheel configuration. Built in 1930 by Vulcan Iron Works in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., it was first purchased by the Flagg Coal Company in Pennsylvania, but then sold to the Solvay Process Quarry in New York, where it was used to push cart loads of rock. In 1954, it was purchased by railroad conservationist Dr. Stanley Groman. After Groman’s death in 1991, father and son team Byron and John Gramling purchased and restored the locomotive.