The Elkins Train Depot and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad have remained busy this week, despite last week's fatal accident on the rails.
Although the Cheat Mountain Salamander is out of commission for the rest of the season - after it was struck by a logging truck Friday, resulting in the death of the truck's driver - Depot and railroad officials say passengers are still enthusiastic about local rail excursions.
The New Tygart Flyer and the Durbin Rocket tourism trains are still selling to capacity, Depot officials said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Chad Clem
Passengers step off the New Tygart Flyer after returning to the Elkins Train Depot from their ride on Tuesday.
"We haven't seen a downturn in business at all," said Sian Dowis, an Americorps worker at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. "People are still coming out from all over."
"We have been rescheduling passengers who were booked on the Salamander to the New Tygart Flyer," said Shane Yeager, reservations manager for the Elkins Depot. "Most people have been rescheduled for rides on the same day. We've even added a new car to the Flyer to accommodate as many people as possible."
The New Tygart Flyer takes passengers on a 48-mile (approximately 4-hour) round trip that features two separate mountain grades, an "S" curve tunnel and miles of unspoiled mountain wilderness traveling through Shaver's Fork and to the High Falls of Cheat, an 18-foot high, 150-foot wide waterfall deep in the mountains.
Yeager said that Friday's accident is still on everyone's minds.
"This is an isolated incident and I believe nothing like it has happened before in West Virginia," said Yeager. "It should not deter people from riding the train."
Passengers on the trains coming in and out this week said the rails experience speaks for itself.
"We enjoyed the ride," said Patsy Borris, who, along with her husband, Tim, is originally from Georgia and had heard about the train from an acquaintance. "The staff is friendly and the fall scenery is breathtaking."
"It's a wonderful ride," said John Durham, who resides outside of Roanoke, Va. "I would recommend it to anyone."
The Depot is gearing up for its annual Polar Express Train Ride starting in November. Based on the holiday feature film and beloved children's book, the train takes families on a ride to the North Pole. The trip includes dancing chefs who serve hot chocolate and a visit from Santa, who will board the train and greet children and offer a silver sleigh bell as a gift for "true believers."
For more information on the Elkins Depot and the events offered by the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad, check out www.elkinsdepot.com.
Contact Chad Clem by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.