Check out picturesque landscapes, wildlife, and historic site on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Excursions.
Cars are convenient, buses are practical, and planes will get you where you need to go, fast. But for sheer enjoyment, there’s nothing like a train. That’s why passengers return again and again to Potomac Eagle Scenic Rail Excursions in Romney. The train rides provide a short jaunt into the past, incomparable views of the Allegheny Mountains, and a chance to see wildlife you’d never spot trucking down the highway.
Potomac Eagle runs every Saturday and Sunday from May through September. Most weekends, trains take the three-hour trip through The Trough, a wooded gorge along the South Branch of the Potomac River. On the last Saturday of each month, Potomac Eagle runs an all-day trip to Petersburg. There’s also the occasional special train, like the increasingly popular “Green Spring Special.”
In October—when fall colors only intensify the landscape’s beauty—Potomac Eagle offers daily trips through The Trough.
No matter which excursion you choose, Potomac Eagle offers two seating classes. Guests in the climate-controlled club car, where they enjoy lounge-style seating and a three-course meal. Most families prefer coach seating. These 1920s-era railcars offer cushioned, high-back seats, which are reversible so passengers can face in either direction. “It takes you back in time a little bit,” says Jodi Burnsworth, office manager for Potomac Eagle. Although coach does not provide food service, riders can either pack a lunch or enjoy food from the train’s snack bar.
All passengers, club or coach, have access to the Potomac Eagle’s two observation cars. One is open for the duration of the ride but the “gondola” car, a converted freight car with benches and an open roof, is only open to passengers while the train is passing through The Trough, where eagles are almost always swooping around. “You have that amazing unrestricted view,” Burnsworth says.
There’s plenty to see on a Potomac Eagle excursion. Here are some things to look for:
1. Bald Eagles
There are eight bald eagle nests in the area, and two can be seen from the train. “We see at least one eagle, if not more, on every trip,” Jodi Burnsworth, office manager for Potomac Eagle, says. When eagles come into view, the engineer slows the train so everyone can get a good look.
2. Other Wildlife
There’s plenty more animals to see from the windows of the train. Passengers regularly spot great blue heron and deer. And because the train runs through farmland, it’s not uncommon for a cow to wander onto the tracks. “We say they have the right of way,” Burnsworth says.
When traveling through The Trough, keep an eye peeled for Eagle Rock. It stands about 400 feet tall, and the train tracks wrap around it. If you’re on the Green Spring Special trip, look for the arch-shaped Hanging Rocks.
The Potomac Eagle passes many old structures along the way. Pay attention to the Kuykendal House. Built in 1789, this two-story stone home still has no electricity or running water. “You can see the bathtub out in the yard,” Burnsworth says.