When avid excursion train riders
think of states with that offer incredible journeys by rail, Kansas
would not make most lists. And to some extent this is true as mentioned
before. However, the three tourist railroads to be found in the state
do offer bucolic scenery through rolling hills and open farmland, and
also host special events like "A Day Out With Thomas". Noteworthy of
the three is the Abilene & Smoky Valley, which offers visitors the
chance to see a historic, operating steam locomotive. If you are
interested in catching one of the state's excursion trains be sure and
do so sometime between the spring and fall as none operate year-round
(although they do have holiday specials). For a little more about
Kansas train rides please read on below.
Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad
The Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad, based in Abilene, Kansas operates on former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (the Rock Island) as far east as Enterprise, about 13-miles. Trains are boarded from the restored Rock Island depot in Abilene and special events during the season include occasional dinner train runs. The railroad also operates restored 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotive #3415 on a limited scheduled.
Great Overland Station
This museum is located in Topeka is located inside Union Pacific's beautifully restored station designed by renowned architect Gilbert Underwood and opened for service during January of 1927. Today, the location provides a collection of historic displays and events held throughout the year. They are open on select days throughout the year.
Great Plains Transportation Museum
This museum, located in Wichita, features a collection of rolling stock and artifacts to peruse. Its mission statement notes that the group's goal, "is to preserve and convey the unique history of railroading in the Great Plains through acquisition, restoration, research, exhibition, and education." They are open on select days throughout the year.
Heart of the Heartlands, Inc.
A rather odd name for a tourist railroad, Heart of the
Heartlands, Inc. based in Scammon, Kansas is actually a railroad museum
which has been given permission by shortline freight railroad South
Kansas & Oklahoma to operate excursion trains. The organization
offers both excursion train rides as well as motor car trips (rail
Liberal Rock Island Depot
This small depot is the town's preserved Rock Island structure and currently houses the Liberal Chamber of Commerce. Inside they have a small collection of artifacts on display. To visit the building please call 620-624-3855.
Santa Fe Depot
This small museum, which also acts as a stop for Amtrak trains, is located inside the AT&SF's restored brick depot in Kingman. The facility is only open by chance or appointment. To visit the depot, which houses railroad and local artifacts, please call 620-532-2142.
The all-volunteer Midland Railway, based in the eastern Kansas
town of Baldwin City is a fairly popular tourist railroad which
operates June through October. They have an impressive collection of
equipment and operate a railroad that stretches about 20-miles at
farthest reach south, to Ottawa. Additionally, there are special events during the year
including hosting "A Day Out With Thomas" the tank engine, train robberies, as well as first-class dinner train accommodations. To learn more please visit their website.
Related Reading You May Enjoy
Tourist Train Information