Seligman Chamber offers nostalgic train ride through mountains

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

3-hour layover in historic Van Buren offers festival fun

For those who have never experienced the elegance and nostalgia of riding a locomotive — once the fastest and most elite land travel known to man — the Seligman Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring an opportunity to do so on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad with its annual fall train ride on Oct. 14 and 15 from Seligman to historic Van Buren, Ark.

Described by the railroad as “a window seat to history,” the all-day excursion allows passengers to travel in style through a by-gone era of American history, with views of rustic, rugged countryside.

The ride includes a scenic route through the Boston mountains and historic Arkansas River Basin, through the 1,702-foot Winslow Tunnel, and it crosses over a dozen rivers and three high trestles over 100 feet up, from which riders can see for miles. Passengers have reported seeing wildlife such as deer, turkey and even bears during the journey.

Riders meet at Seligman City Hall at approximately 7 a.m., then walk across the street to board the train, said Cleta Stanley, president of the chamber. The train arrives in Van Buren at approximately 11 a.m. for a three-hour stop to dine and shop in the city’s historic downtown area during its annual Arts and Crafts Fall Festival.

Once passengers step off the train, they will see Main Street, with its original architecture and bustling with festival activity.

“We have anywhere from 150-200 craft vendors and all of our merchants, restaurants, and our new Freedom Park is now open,” said Joy Holman, event coordinator and treasurer for the Old Town Merchants Association of Van Buren. “We’ll have entertainment on two stages, and the festival covers several city blocks.”

On the ride home, a snack is included, and the train arrives in Seligman at about 6:30 p.m.

According to the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad website, the railroad is one of the few commercial lines left in the United States that operates both freight and passenger service, and passengers travel in restored, turn-of-the-century passenger cars. During the trip, passengers will hear a historical commentary from knowledgable conductors, providing a touch of awe to their journey as they travel through the mountains and valleys, and through American history.

Just as in the “olden days,” several options to ride the rails are available, including a vintage car, priced at $60 per person; $55 for seniors; a first-class car, priced at $75 per person; $70 for seniors; or an upper dome car, priced at $80. Cost for ages 3-12 is $35 on all cars; under 3 ride free.

For more information about the railroad or passenger cars and seating, visit their website at www.amrailroad.com.

Proceeds go to support the Seligman Chamber of Commerce.

In December, the chamber will also host a Christmas holiday train ride, which benefits foster children through For the Kids Foster Parents Association.

For more information and to confirm dates and times, people may call 417-662-3612, or to book a reservation, call the Depot directly at 1-800-687-8600.

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