If you drive 93 miles southwest of Washington D.C., and you will find yourself in the town of Luray, Virginia. This small town located at the junction of U.S. Routes 211 and 340, it has a few attractions, but the most famous attraction is Luray Caverns, the largest cavern east of the Appalachian Mountains and the most visited caverns in the eastern United States. The caverns, like others across the nation, is an amazing natural wonder. If are even in the region, you will want to make your way to Luray Caverns.
Some of you are saying, “I think that this is wonderful. These caverns must be very amazing. The problem is that this a cave, and there are no railroads in this cavern. Therefore, you will not be seeing me explore this place.”
Luray Caverns is a spectacular place to see. Of course, there are no railroads inside the cavern. However, there is much to these caverns that have to do with the railroad.
When you pay your admission to Luray Caverns, you will be able to see, of course, Luray Caverns. It also includes admission to the Car and Caravan Museum which displays classic cars. You can enter the Luray Valley Museum where you can see how life was when this region was part of the western frontier. Then you have Toy Town Junction. Toy Town Junction features toys, but it also features model trains. You will see two different model train displays plus trains displayed on shelves featuring different scenes.
If you think that Toy Town Junction is all that Luray Caverns has to do with trains, think again.
About one mile away from Luray Caverns is the town center of Luray. Just south of the town center is the Luray Visitor Center. What is special about the Luray Visitor Center? It is housed in the old train depot. Along with the visitor center there is also a small museum that features a model train display. You can even take a seat in the original passenger ticket office.
In case you are wondering, there is much more to the story. This depot is a big part of the story.
Before it was the Luray Visitor Center and Museum, it was the train depot. It served as a normal small-town depot. Passenger trains stopped here to pickup and discharge passengers. Unlike your typical small-town depot, this depot had many visitors during the glory days of railroading. Why did they come here? They came to see this popular cavern that was located about one mile outside of the town. When the passengers arrived at the caverns by train, they were given a special deal. Those who came to Luray by train were given free overnight accommodations at a local hotel. Sadly, the passenger trains no longer serve the town of Luray, but Norfolk Southern has freight trains that pass through the town.
Luray Caverns is located at 101 Cave Hill Road in Luray, Virginia. It can be seen from U.S. 211 and 340. It is open everyday of the year, but hours vary by season. It is also handicap accessible with no steps to the entrance although some assistance many be needed for the uneven walkways. Your paid admission includes the caverns, the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, the Luray Valley Museum and, of course, the Toy Town Junction. You can get all the information you need at https://luraycaverns.com/.
As for the Visitor Center and Museum, it is located at 18 Campbell Street (U.S. Business 340) in Luray, Virginia. Parking is on site. The museum is free, but they gladly accept donations to keep the museum up and running. It features the old ticket office where you can sit at the ticket desk. You can see displays of the history of the railroad through the Shenandoah Valley, and you can enjoy the model train display. The model train display was arranged by the Page County Model Railroad Club. If you are fortunate enough, you may see a train pass by. The Luray Visitor Center and Museum is open everyday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Next time you see an advertisement about Luray Caverns, do not think of it as just a hole in the ground. Think of it as a spot where people once rode the train to. While in Luray, visit the visitor center. Be warned. You may go back in time.