Randolph and surrounding counties up through the Potomac Highlands are known for a multitude of scenic vistas and outdoor recreation opportunities. Soon, there could be a thread that ties them all together.
Highland Adventure of Mountain & Rail, a 90-mile excursion train loop, would offer tourists and locals another chance to take in all the area has to offer. John Smith, owner of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, detailed the plan before the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce this week. Last month, he gave a similar presentation to the state Tourism Commission.
Bringing the project to life, Smith says, will take $20 million and "a lot of work." That's a seemingly sound investment considering that in its first year, the excursion train is expected to make a $50 million economic impact and net 150,000 tourists. While nothing is set in stone, there is certainly some support and belief in Smith's expansion proposal.
Davis & Elkins College also made an announcement this week - the creation of the Center for Railway Tourism which will prepare students to work in the railroad tourism industry. Additionally, the center will provide public programs including a railroad film festival and assistance to communities focusing on railroad tourism.
The idea for the center was spurred by author, Pennsylvania State University professor and long-time affiliate of railway tourism James D. Porterfield.
While some only dare to dream, others put into motion their aspirations. In the case of the Highland Adventure of Mountain & Rail, we expect the latter to be true, and we welcome yet another reason for tourists to make the area their destination.