The Warrenton Greenway, Warrenton, Virginia

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Warrenton, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C., was incorporated on January 5, 1810.  It was named after an American Revolutionary War General named Joseph Warren.  It was a crossroads town where many major roads came together.  During the American Civil War, John Mosby, a Confederate Colonel, led his rangers on numerous raids in this town.  After the war, he became a lawyer and made his home in Warrenton.  The town had the Warren Green Hotel.  What was so great about this hotel?  Let us say that a few people like Marquis de Lafayette, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and Theodore Roosevelt spent nights at this hotel.  Today, this hotel now houses county offices.  The home of John Mosby still stands.  As the town began as a crossroads, it remains a crossroads today with U.S. Routes 15, 17, 29 and 211 passing through the region.  Currently, U.S. Routes 15, 17 and 29 use a bypass around town with U.S. 211 still passing near the town center, and it is a main route for those traveling between Washington D.C. and the Shenandoah National Park.  Warrenton, Virginia is not just a crossroads for travelers but a crossroads of history.

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Some of you are saying, “This is an amazing place.  Many towns began as crossroads of major routes.  The problem with Warrenton is that, just like U.S. Routes 15, 17 and 29, the railroad bypassed this town.  Therefore, I will not be making any crossroads to Warrenton.”

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You have a point.  The railroad did bypass Warrenton.  Well, at least the main line did.  When the Orange and Alexandria Railroad came to the region, it bypassed the town, but in 1852 it built a spur line to the town of Warrenton offering passenger and freight service to the town.  A small rail yard was built along with a turntable for locomotives to turn around.  In 1941, passenger service ceased, and freight service ceased in 1989.  The line was abandoned with the tracks taken up.  The Warrenton Branch would never see service again.

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Train service to Warrenton, Virginia was gone… but it was not forgotten.

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Welcome to the Warrenton Greenway, a rail trail that was built along the original roadbed Warrenton Branch of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Line.  The west end of the trail begins at the south end of Fourth Street where the rail yard was located.  At this site is the original train depot (now a restaurant) and a Norfolk and Western caboose.  (The caboose houses a small museum that is open on the first Saturday of each month from April to October.)  You walk over a bridge and go less than a quarter of a mile, and you will see the base of the old locomotive turntable where locomotives were turned around.  You walk the next mile through the town, and you come across the bridge over the U.S. 15-17-29 bypass.  This is the original railroad bridge over the bypass.  The trail ends about a quarter of a mile east of this point.  Although it is such a short trail, you get a glimpse of the time when the railroad ran regularly through here.

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The Warrenton Branch Greenway is in Warrenton, Virginia.  Parking is available on Fourth Street or on Castle Kingston Lane on the east end.  Most of the trail is paved making it accessible for those in wheelchairs, but the east end is gravel but level.  It is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year, and there is no cost to use the trail.

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Next time you are in Warrenton, Virginia, take a stroll along the Warrenton Branch Greenway.  It is a walk worth taking.

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Giving Thanks

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It is that day of the year.  It is that day we call Thanksgiving.  It is a day where we gave thanks.  It began with a ship of men who arrived at a place on the James River east of Richmond, Virginia.  Then came the Pilgrims who arrived on a beach in Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts where the more famous story of this day originated.  From a simple prayer in Virginia to a big feast in Massachusetts, Thanksgiving is one of the more important holidays celebrated in the United States of America.  In both places they took the time to thank God for safe passage to the New World.  There journey to the New World were on ships sailing from Europe across rough and choppy seas.  It was a journey that very few would survive.

From the year 1828 at a little spot in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, the railroad began to take people across this New World.  Although the passengers no longer take the trains from this very spot, you can still visit the site where the railroad began and ride a train along the first mile of railroad.

In 1869, one rail line was built east from Sacramento, California.  A second rail line was built west from Omaha, Nebraska.  They came together in an isolated town called Promontory, Utah.  This allowed passengers to travel by railroad from the east and the west.  Later the first continuous rail line was built further south through Kansas City, Missouri and Denver, Colorado.  Today, most of these rail lines continue to have rail traffic today.  Although the train no longer passes through Promontory, Utah, you can see the site where a golden spike was driven.  You can also see the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California, Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Kenefick Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

From 1886 to the 1930’s many people were on a ship.  They were welcomed to the New World by a tall lady holding up a torch.  When they stepped foot on a plot of land in a city called Jersey City, New Jersey only to see a train station where trains were waiting to take them across this New World.  Sadly, only this train station remains as the tracks were taken up, but you can see the place in Jersey City, New Jersey where people where once moved by the railroad and that wonderful lady who shined the light for them.  A visit to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey is a must.

These memories have been made possible by those historians who worked diligently to keep these memories alive.  These people deserve our dear thanks.  Thanks to the historians, curators and railroad museum workers.

What about the trains?  Thank the engineers, conductors, porters, baggage handlers, ticket masters, chefs, waiters, mechanics and maintenance workers.

May you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

 

The display is courtesy of the great people at Coolfont resort in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

The Heritage Farm Museum and Village: Huntington, West Virginia

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The state of West Virginia is in the eastern United States of America.  Originally part of the state of Virginia before segregating from that state during the American Civil War during the early half of the 1860’s, the state is mostly mountainous with very few cities.  West Virginia has the largest wilderness area in the United States east of the Mississippi.  With little urbanization, it clings to the name ‘Wild and Wonderful West Virginia’.  Even to this present day the state has little life of massive urbanizing apart from the region of the eastern panhandle being a part of the Washington D.C. metropolitan region.  As for the rest of the state, they love the tranquility of the lack of urbanization.

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Welcome to the Heritage Farm Museum and Village located outside of Huntington.  The Heritage Farm Museum and Village displays the old rural life of the state.  Founded by Mike and Henriella Perry, who created the village by acquiring old structures to bring to life the days of yesteryear.  The village consists of old cabins, blacksmith shop, log church, a homestead site, a petting zoo, a few museums where their collections of antiques are displayed and an artisan center where great artisans do their craft.  A visit to the Heritage Farm Museum and Village will be a visit that will take you back in time.

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Now some of you are saying, “Wow!  This is wonderful.  I love West Virginia.  This state is a great refuge from the urban meccas of New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Columbus.  I really love the tranquility this state has to offer.  I am proud of the fact that the Heritage Farm Museum and Village is preserving the states rural heritage.  However, there is one big problem with this place.  As you can see, this place has absolutely nothing to do with the railroad.  Therefore, I see absolutely nothing that is wild and wonderful about the Heritage Farm Museum and Village.”

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So, what is so special about the Heritage Farm Museum and Village?  It is a farm and village of course.  It has a few museums.  What museums?  You have the School Museum which depicts the life of schools in early America.  You have a Children’s Activity Museum, a Doll and Carriage Museum and the Country Store Museum.

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Now you are saying, “Wow!  Great!  Museums!  No trains.”

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Then you come to the Museum of Progress.  What is the progress museum?  It talks about the progression of life in America.  One of the displays in this museum is two model train displays.  The displays have trains rolling through the days of early America to the modern day.

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By the way, there is more.

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You then have the Museum of Transportation.  It displays transportation from the old wagon days to the modern day to include railroads, and you see plenty of them here.  This also has two model train displays.

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If that is not enough for you, here is one more thing.

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The Heritage Farm Museum and Village feature overnight accommodations that include old farmhouses, but it also includes a caboose from the Virginian Railway.  Yes, you can spend a night in a caboose.

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Therefore, if somebody tells you that the Heritage Farm Museum and Village has nothing to do with the railroad, they have not visited the place because although they focus on the rural lifestyle, they do have model trains and a caboose to sleep in.  The great thing is that they are open year-round, but hours do vary by day.  (They are closed Sundays and Holidays.)  You can get more information at http://www.heritagefarmmuseum.com/.

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Come and enjoy a little heritage in western West Virginia.  Come and enjoy a life that once was.

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EnterTrainment Junction, West Chester, Ohio: The Home of Great EnterTrainment

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The city of Cincinnati, Ohio sits on the Ohio River in the southwest corner of the state U.S. state of Ohio.  Some of the old timers may remember the show ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’.  Sports fans know it as the home of the Cincinnati Reds and the Bengals.  It is also the home of EnterTrainment Junction.

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Some of you are saying, “You misspelled a word.  You meant to say Entertainment Junction.”

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Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a misspelling.  The name of the place is EnterTrainment Junction.  Most of you already figured out how the name came about.

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Some of you are saying, “I know.  It is a place that has this amazing name, but when you visit, you simply see a train going around a small circle.”

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If you are only interested in places that have massive produced names with tiny small displays, then EnterTrainment Junction is a place you will not want to visit.

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If you enjoy a model train display, a very large model train display, with many operating trains, welcome to EnterTrainment Junction.

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From the parking lot, it looks like a building just like any other building.  You go inside, and you find yourself in a town.  You walk over to the West Chester depot to pay your admission.  You look around the town again and see that this place is amazing, but you did not come inside to see a town.  You came to see trains.  By the way, it is just a bunch of model trains.  Right?  Prepare to be amazed.

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You enter the first room, and you find yourself in the old west.  Well, you are not in the old west, but the layout displays the old west.  Each layout displays America from the early days of railroading to the present day from the rural lands to the mountains to the small towns to the cities.  Trains pass by towns through tunnels and over bridges and mountains.  Oh, during your walk-through, you will be passing through tunnels yourself.  During your journey you will see steam trains, diesel trains, subways and trolleys from yesteryear to today.  Along with the model trains there are also museum displays that include and old luggage cart and a bench once used inside a train station.  To make it easier, everything is on one level.  The only other level is an overlook that looks down on the display which is accessible by an elevator.

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EnterTrainment Junction is located at 7379 Squire Court in West Chester, Ohio.  It is just minutes off Interstate 75 and about fifteen miles north of downtown Cincinnati.  Admission is 14.95 for adults, 11.95 for seniors 65 and older and children 3 to twelve with children 2 and under free.  As mentioned, the entire display is handicap accessible.  Along with this enormous model train display you also have the American Railroad Museum and Imagination Junction for the children.  Along with the train displays you also have the A-Maze-N Funhouse that includes a Mirror Maze, Clown College and other fun things.  Parking is on site and is free.  You can learn more about this amazing place at https://entertrainmentjunction.com/.

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So, the next time you hear about the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Do not just think of it as a city on the Ohio River or the city in southwestern Ohio or the home of the Reds and the Bengals.  Think of it as a city of great entertrainment.  Be warned.  When you visit EnterTrainment Junction, you will be entertrained.

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Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania: The Birthplace of Commercial Ice Cream Production

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Have you ever heard of the town of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania?  You have never heard of the town of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania?  Unless you live in York County in South Central Pennsylvania, you more likely never heard of this place.  Pennsylvania Route 616 is the only main route to pass through this town as it is far from any major route.  It is not a touristy town.  It does have one claim.  What is that claim?  It was in this town where ice cream was first produced for commercial production.

South Central Pennsylvania is known for its dairy farms, and York County still has many farms in operation today.  A man by the name of C. Jacob Fussel took advantage of these farms and built and ice cream factory in the town.  Being an out-of-the-way town, you must wonder how the rest of the world was able to get his ice cream.  It is a town that is not on a major highway, but it was a stop on the Northern Central Railroad.  The ice cream was shipped to markets in Baltimore.  Sadly, for the town, the operations were later moved to Baltimore where it continued into the 1940’s.

So, as you can see, the railroad was a major contributor to commercial ice cream.  Although the section of the Northern Central Railroad in the state of Maryland was destroy by a hurricane in 1972, a single track in the Pennsylvania section remains.  Do trains run on this track?  They do.  ‘Steam Into History’ runs occasional excursions to Seven Valleys.  Unfortunately, the old ice cream factory was demolished, but at least you can ride a section of the old Northern Central Railroad Line where ice cream was taken for many others to enjoy.  You can get the schedule at http://www.steamintohistory.com.

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I scream.  You scream.  You can ride the steam for ice cream.

The National New York Central Railroad Museum, Elkhart, Indiana

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The New York Central Railroad is one of the most classic railroads in the history of the railroad in the United States of America.  The railroad was famous for its upscale passenger trains and fancy steam locomotives.  It was also known for its speedy trains avoiding most of the mountain regions of the states it served.  With all these great trains would it be great to have a museum to keep the memories of the New York Central Railroad alive.  The good news is that there is a museum… in Indiana?

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Why is the National New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart, Indiana and not in the state of New York?  That is a very good question.  The answer is because Elkhart was hub for the railroad having a huge railyard, the second largest yard east of the Mississippi River, that is still in use today although now by the Norfolk Southern Railroad.  This made the town of Elkhart, Indiana a great place for the New York Central Railroad Museum.

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You enter the parking lot of the museum.  You see the NYC Caboose 19211 and the NYC City of Elkhart Dining Car.  You see two other passenger cars and Locomotive 4085.  There is more rolling stock, but you will want to go inside to pay the admission first.

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Now you are inside.  If you think that there is nothing really to see inside, you are sadly mistaken.  After you peek at the inside of the dining car and look at the old switchboard, you enter the display rooms.  Lanterns and model trains and a luggage cart and a display of the ticket master’s office and many tools are on display.  While here, you cannot leave without seeing the model train display.  While there, you can see the walls full of model trains.

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Now you are finished on the inside, and you want to go outside.

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You walk past the Number 4085, and you go inside.  You sit in the engineer’s seat and get the view of the engineer.  The problem is that you are at the museum and will not be going anywhere.  You walk over to Number 3001.  You stare.  You still stare.  This is one impressive locomotive.  You walk by the rolling stock, and then you feel disappointed that you time is over.  Maybe not.  You may need to stick around for some Norfolk Southern trains or Amtrak to roll by.

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The National New York Central Railroad Museum is housed in and old freight house.  It displays the history of the New York Central Railroad through all its routes.  It is located at 721 S. Main Street in Elkhart, Indiana just south of the railroad crossing and across the tracks from the town center and the old train station.  It is a ten-minute drive from the Indiana Turnpike (Interstates 80 and 90) and a five-minute drive from U.S. 20.  It is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday through Sunday.  (Closed Monday.)  Admission is $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors 61 and older and children 4 to 12 with children 3 and under free.  Parking is free and on site.  You can get more information at https://www.elkhartindiana.org/department/?fDD=54-0.

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Come to the National New York Central Railroad Museum.  Enjoy a little New York style… in northern Indiana.

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Isett Heritage Museum, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

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What is the Isett Heritage Museum?  It is a museum located two miles outside of the town of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  What kind of a museum is it?  It is a museum that has a very large collection of items from the year 1800 to the present day.  Many museums have collections through various years, and many of those museums have unique items.  What makes the Isett Heritage Museum special?  It is a museum that takes you back in time.   A visit to the Isett Heritage Museum is a visit worth taking, and you will be glad to visit this museum.

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Some of you are saying, “This is great.  We have another museum that has many vintage items on display.  With all this stuff, I do not see myself visiting this place.  Why?  The reason is because this is not a railroad museum.  Therefore, I will not be making my way to this place.”

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The Isett Heritage Museum has many items on display.  Among those items are film and photo cameras, televisions, farm equipment, old printing equipment and so much more.  What more is there to see?  How about two model train displays?

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Part of the collections at the museum include two model train displays, plus there are a few model trains on the shelves above the actual displays.  Watch the trains roll around and around to include steam trains and a trolley.  You will be so excited about the trains that you may forget to check out the rest of the museum.  If you are fortunate enough, you may get to see Mr. Isett himself, the same Mr. Isett who collected at of the items for many visitors to enjoy.

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The Isett Heritage is located on Stone Creek Ridge Road about two miles from the town center of Huntingdon and from U.S. Route 22.  The collections are housed in three large structures so be prepared to do a lot of walking.  These structures are handicap accessible.  The museum is open year-round, but hours do vary between Winter and Summer.  (The museum is closed on weekends in December, January, February and March.)  Admission is $10.00, and parking is on site.  You can get more information and read more into the history of the museum at http://isettacres.com/.

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Welcome to the Isett Heritage Museum, a place that will take you back… in time.

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