Ralph Waldo Emerson was onto something when he said: it’s about the journey, not the destination. OK, maybe he wasn’t exactly referring to the experience of riding a train. However, when going from one place to another, there’s nothing quite as special as traveling by railway. By the time you reach your final stop, you’ll have traversed some incredible and diverse landscapes from cities to mountains and rivers. In New Jersey, these five train rides will take you through the state’s most historic and scenic sites.
1. Pine Creek Railroad
Wall Township, NJ
Hop aboard the Pine Creek Railroad located inside Allaire State Park. This railway and amusement attraction was founded in 1952 by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. Today, it remains as one of the oldest operating narrow gauge railway exhibits in the country. Although a relatively short excursion, during your 30-minute ride the train’s oval track will roll through the lush landscapes of Allaire Village.
Pine Creek Railroad operates from April through December and features several seasonal rides for Christmas, Halloween and Easter. Tickets are $4 per person and schedule updates can be found on their Facebook.
2. Black River & Western Railroad
BR&W #60 has been carrying passengers around Hunterdon County since 1965. Originally, this coal-fired steam locomotive was built in 1937 for the Great Western Railway of Colorado. Today, BR&W’s passenger trains connect Flemington, Ringoes and Bowne. During the fall season, they offer Pumpkin Junction rides which include an hour at Everett farm for wagon rides, a corn maze and more.
When Christmastime rolls around, board the 90-minute Santa Express Train. The route runs from Flemington to “North Pole Station” and passengers have the opportunity to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
3. Whippany Railway Museum
This Morris County museum is home to railroad memorabilia, exhibits vintage equipment and more. The trains at Whippany Railway, however, can haul passengers through the Historic Whippanong Trail, nearby pumpkin patches and more. Here, guests have the opportunity to board the Easter Bunny Express and The Pumpkin Patch Train seasonally. Or, you can set off on a 45-minute excursion on select Sundays in May, June, September and October.
They offer vintage cabooses but for truly optimum results, we suggest taking a ride in the 1927-era Jersey Coast passenger car or newly restored 1912 DL&W 2454 subscription car. The 10-mile route takes passengers through historic areas of Morris and Essex Counties where they’ll see wildlife, lakes and even cross the Passaic River via a bridge.
4. Delaware River Railroad Excursions
Delaware River Railroad offers a number of trips offered year-round. However, we recommend hitching a ride on this route that meanders along the Delaware River to Riegelsville and back. This hour-and-a-half voyage in particular runs from May until October, which means you can catch some of the state’s best fall foliage.
If you missed the boarding call for this season, Delaware River Railroad also offers its version of The Polar Express in the winter. You can find a full list of their trips here. Currently, the Delaware River Railroad is operated by the New York Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society.
5. Cape May Seashore Lines
The scenery in South Jersey is nothing short of spectacular. In New Jersey, the Cape May Seashore Lines offer multiple train rides that allow guests to explore Cape May and Atlantic Counties. Among their passenger trains is a 30-mile excursion that connects Richland and Tuckahoe. There are also opportunities to ride the Seashore Lines seasonally with the Santa Express, Easter Bunny Express and even a Wizard’s Express for those “Harry Potter” fans.
Which of these New Jersey train rides would you take? Let us know in the comments.
Main image by David Mark