The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (reporting marks, CVSR), located in Peninsula, Ohio is a tourist railroad which travels over 20 miles through the state’s beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park roughly connecting the park with Canton to the south. The line was originally a Baltimore & Ohio route that would have surely been abandoned had it not been converted into a private tourist railroad. The CVSR has been in operation for nearly 40 years now and has steadily grown since that time. In some ways it is rather interesting that a railroad still exist in such a pristine location within a national park and near the large population areas of Cleveland and Akron. Today, the railroad is not only famous for the passing scenery afforded along its route but also is well known for its large fleet of historic Alco (American Locomotive Company) diesel locomotives.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad dates back to 1972 when the railroad began operating excursion trains on what was then track owned by the Chessie System. Prior to the Chessie System the line was owned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, before that the Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railroad (which was purchased by the B&O), and originally built by the Valley Railway in 1880 to serve farmers and local towns and communities, along with hauling coal to nearby Akron and Cleveland. As traffic began drying up on the line the Chessie System saw less and less of a need for the route and leased it to the CVSR, eventually outright selling the line to the railroad and the National Park Service in 1985.

As for the Baltimore & Ohio, the route became one of two the railroad owned reaching Cleveland, with both lines diverging away from its Chicago-Pittsburgh-Baltimore main line. Unfortunately for the B&O, because the route always carried a secondary status and the railroad did not directly serve Cleveland as did other lines like the New York Central and Nickel Plate Road it never held a large presence in the city (and likewise never attracted much of its freight and passenger traffic).

Today the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has become a very popular tourist attraction in northern Ohio, in no small part thanks to the three large cities it is located near. However, another reason for its success is the wide range of services it offers guests. Not only does the railroad include its standard 41-mile round trip between the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Akron, and Canton but it also operates numerous special trains throughout the year including a wine tasting train, Day Out With Thomas (The Tank Engine), Easter Bunny Express, Polar Express, Halloween Express, and the Christmas Tree Adventure. Add to this stops along the railroad’s route which includes the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Akron Zoo, Hall Farm and Village, and the Stan Hywet Hall and Garden and its no wonder the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad sees thousands of riders annually.  

The CVSR is one of the few tourist railroads that offers a year-round schedule, although it varies depending on the seasons. For instance, during the cooler months of the year the railroad typically only operates regular excursions on the weekends while during the late spring through early fall it runs from Wednesday through Sunday.   As mentioned before the CVSR is an Alco haven with models ranging from FPAs to RS3s. Below is a current roster of the railroad:

· #365 – Alco C420 (Originally Atlantic Coast Line)

· #800 – Alco FPA-4 (Painted in B&O colors but originally Canadian National)

· #1689 – Alco RS-3 (Originally Chicago & North Western and painted in C&NW’s livery)

· #1822 – Alco RS-18 (Originally Canadian Pacific)

· #4241 – Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW) C424 (Originally Canadian Pacific)

· #6767 – Alco FPA-4 (Originally Canadian National)

· #6771 – Alco FPA-4 (Originally Canadian National)

· #6777 – Alco FPA-4 (Originally Canadian National)

Along with the railroad’s fleet of diesel locomotives it also owns a fleet of diesel powered rail cars or better known as RDCs, which are listed below:

· #M-3 – RDC 1 (Originally New York, Susquehanna & Western)

So, if you’re ever in northern Ohio or near the cities of Cleveland, Akron, and/or Canton please stop by and check out the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which not only provides a comfortable, climate-controlled train ride but also fabulous scenery through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Lastly, if you have the time please consider volunteering to help them with not only restoration work but also maintaining their railroad. I am sure they would very much appreciate the help!  For more information about the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad please click here to visit their official website. 

(Thanks to Jerry Jordak for help concerning the information on this page.)

There you can found exactly everything that they have to offer as it is filled with information from all of their available excursions to things you can do around the region. You can also find out when their excursion trains are operating and purchase tickets directly from the website.  If you may be interested in learning a little more history of the Baltimore & Ohio please click here. Also, for more information about excursion trains like the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad you might want to consider the book Tourist Trains Guidebook, which is put together by the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains magazine.

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