If you’re a fan of learning about or riding trains, the Wilmington Western Railroad in DE is one you won’t want to miss. It’s an opportunity for young and old to learn about and experience a railroad with a rich history. The Wilmington Western Railroad is one of the leading tourist attractions in Delaware.
Today, we’re looking at why you should ride the rails and experience the old-fashioned trains yourself. Let’s get started!
About the Wilmington Western Railroad, DE
If you plan to visit the Wilmington Western Railroad, there are some important things you need to know ahead of time. Let’s look at some of these details so you and your fellow train-loving adventurers can have a great time.
Officials began planning the Wilmington & Western Railroad in 1867 to help move goods from Red Clay Creek to the Port of Wilmington. However, it didn’t begin hauling freight or passengers until October 1872.
The first trains on the railroad had three passenger trains and a varying amount of freight trains that ran six days a week from Wilmington, DE, to Landenberg, PA. However, half a decade later, the railroad went through foreclosure due to excessive debt from construction and poor management.
New management brought new life into the railroad and renamed it Delaware Western Railroad. The railroad moved kaolin clay, snuff, iron, vulcanized fiber materials, and coal, among other materials. It was often called the “Landenberg Branch” after being purchased by Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad.
In the late 1880s, a resort opened in Brandywine Springs. The resort along the railroad featured pony rides, a carousel, a fun house, and live entertainment. However, the Great Depression severely impacted both the resort and the railroad. The park closed in 1923, and the passenger service ended in 1930.
Freight traffic continued, but only for a little while longer. Truck traffic supplanted it. The service line for the railroad was shortened multiple times in the 1940s and ‘50s. While the mid-1960s saw the tracks used for tourist trains, by the mid-1970s, the railroads were too much of a financial burden. Historic Red Clay Valley Inc. (HRCV) quickly began raising funds to purchase the rails.
The HRCV has weathered storms and trials to preserve and rebuild the railroad’s infrastructure. They’ve rebuilt bridges destroyed by flooding and intense storms and worked to extend how far their revenue trains can travel. Travelers can now travel 10 miles of track that wind through some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.
The ten miles of track for the Wilmington Western Railroad, DE, are in northern Delaware. The tracks start at the Greenbank Station in Greenbank and travel to Hockessin. The railroad lies just south of the Delaware-Pennsylvania border.
The route for the Wilmington Western Railroad starts in Greenbank, DE. Riders get to experience Faulkland, Wooddale, Mt. Cuba, Ashland, Yorklyn, and Hockessin. Many of these communities still exist because of the railroad’s presence years ago when mills and other industries were booming.
The route crosses over and meanders along Red Clay Creek multiple times. This creek was responsible for the massive damage the railroad has experienced over the years from flooding.
While the original route continued to Landenberg, PA, the tracks saw a massive decline in use during the 1950s. The tracks have since been cut back, and Hockessin is the end of the line.
The Wilmington Western Railroad offers a 1½-hour round-trip ride on the Yorklyn Limited and a 2½-hour round-trip ride on the Hockessin Flyer that both operate seasonally.
Costs for Yorklyn Limited are $16 for children (2-12) to $18 for adults. Seniors (60+) are $17. Fares for the Hockessin Flyer are $19 for children (2-12), $20 for seniors (60+), and $21 for adults. Children under two ride free on both trains.
Throughout the year, the Wilmington Western Railroad, DE, offers a variety of special events. Some of their most popular events include the Easter Bunny Express, Firework Express, Royal Blue Dinner Train, Halloween Express, and Santa Claus Express. These are all unique events that can be a great way to make memories.
There’s practically always some sort of event on the Wilmington Western Railroad. Make sure you check out their complete list of events on their website for the most up-to-date information.
Charters and Rentals
Why not consider the Wilmington Western Railroad if you’re looking for a unique site for your next event? The railroad has hosted company meetings, wedding receptions, and high school reunions. Rent the birthday caboose to celebrate your child’s next birthday.
Check out their full line of charters and rental services to help you decide which might be right for your next event.
Traveler’s Tip: Go for a swim and Sunbathe At the 5 Best Beaches in Delaware.
How Long Is the Ride on the Wilmington Western Railroad?
What remains of the Wilmington Western Railroad, DE, track is approximately 10 miles long. The two round-trip excursions last 1½ to 2½ hours. However, both stops include a half-hour layover to allow passengers to grab some food and do some shopping.
How Is the Wilmington Western Railroad Powered?
The Wilmington Western Railroad uses steam- and diesel-powered trains. The steam locomotives are a 1907 0-6-0 switcher and a 1909 4-4-0 Alco American. The diesel locomotive has spent its entire life chugging away in the Red Clay Valley.
How Old Is the Wilmington Train Station?
Construction on the Wilmington Train Station began in 1907 and was completed on June 29, 1908. This makes it over 110 years old. Despite its age, it remains one of the busiest Amtrak stations in the country.
Is the Wilmington Western Railroad, DE, Worth It?
The Wilmington Western Railroad is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the history of the railroad industry and how it impacted this area. Visitors can learn about it through historical plaques and markers.
Enjoy a ride on the train and experience it for yourself. Getting to see and experience some of the small towns in this area can help bring history to life in a whole new way.
Would you go for a ride on the Wilmington Western Railroad?
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