Even if you are not a train enthusiast, taking a ride on the Wilmington and Western Railroad is sure to please. It's like traveling back in time, as the journey presents visitors with the chance to experience what train travel was like back in the early days. The vintage trains here are of both the steam and diesel variety, and the main excursion line runs for about 10 miles. When you take a trip on the Wilmington Western Railroad, you'll enjoy views of forests and streams, and once in a while, this historic Wilmington Railroad adventure features special events, such as ghost tours. On Easter, the Easter Bunny makes a visit, and in the fall, there is a fun-filled Full Moon Hayride. Maybe you'll decide to use the historic trains and the Wilmington train station for the setting of your own special event. You can rent the trains and the station for your wedding or business party, perhaps, and charter trips are also possible. If you're visiting Delaware with history in mind, you certainly won't want to miss the Wilmington Western Railroad by any means. There aren't many historical exhibits that are this interactive.
This historic Wilmington railroad originally received
its charter to operate in 1867. It's route would
follow the Red Clay Creek between Landenberg, Pennsylvania and the Port of Wilmington. The trains transported both
passengers and freight beginning in the year 1872, and
they stopped often at the mills found along the route.
In 1877, the Wilmington Western Railroad went into foreclosure,
partly due to bad management. New owners were fast to
move in, however, making quite a profit moving new materials
to the mills. You snooze, you lose, as the saying goes.
The Baltimore and Philadelphia Railroad went on to buy the Wilmington
Western Railroad line, adding it to the Baltimore and Ohio parent company's
railroad system. Over the years, the line would be shortened,
such as when service to Landenberg was halted during the
Great Depression. In the 1960's, the tracks for the Wilmington
railroad were first leased for the use of tourist excursions.
Today, it is fully a non-profit railroad that is dedicated
to tourism. Should you be trying to find a unique dining
experience in Wilmington, you might hop aboard one of
the Wilmington Railroad dinner trains. There are dinner
train options that allow you to dine either on board or
at a featured restaurant destination.
Not to be confused with the Wilmington Railroad Museum
in Wilmington, North
Carolina, the Delaware Wilmington train station and
railroad are a living museum of sorts. When you ride these
trains, you are essentially enjoying a museum that moves.
The views out of the train windows will be the same views
that passengers saw over 100 years ago. Granted, you can
expect many of these views to be altered. Nonetheless,
a ride along the Wilmington Western Railroad is about
as close as you can get to stepping into the shoes of
someone who rode these lines decades ago. Many visitors
who ride the trains here also include tours of a restored
mill. You can also arrange a side tour which involves
exploring old gardens, or arrange to stay for a night
in a charming bed and
breakfast. History buffs visiting Wilmington will
certainly want to pair a Wilmington train station visit
and train ride with trips to other historic Wilmington
attractions like the Hagley
Museum and Library, and the Delaware Museum of Natural
History. The nearby town of New
Castle also adds historic flavor with its cobblestone
streets and brick sidewalks.
The rates for train trips on the Wilmington Western Railroad are quite agreeable, though you'll understandably pay a significant amount more for the dinner trains. There's so many interesting excursions to choose from, like the one to Mt. Cuba, where you can enjoy a picnic layover. Autumn is a great time to take train rides through the area, as the changing leaves present a dazzling and colorful setting. Add a trip on the Wilmington Western Railroad to your next Delaware vacation, and you'll likely be thanked by everyone in your group afterwards. The trains run year round, so no matter when you come, you'll be able to consider adding an excursion to your Delaware list of things to do.