Last revised: March 23, 2023
By: Adam Burns
New York is a state buffered by Lake Superior and Lake Erie to the east with might Hudson River running from north-to-south down its western periphery. In addition, the Adirondack Mountains occupy its northeastern region while the Allegheny Plateau and Catskill Mountains can be found to its south.
With so much interesting geography, New York's natural beauty is quite spectacular. One of the best ways to see this is by train. Perhaps the easiest way to do so is via Amtrak, the nation's intercity passenger rail service, which operates trains throughout New York.
In addition, a number of heritage railroads and museums host bucolic trips that harken back to days gone by when much of the traveling public used rail service to reach their intended destination.
Some type of food service was always provided with these trains and even included full dining amenities if the trip was of particular length. Today, some heritage lines and museums bring this experience back to life. The information listed below highlights those organizations which operate either full-course dinner trains, or some type of food service on-board.
The Adirondack Railroad began in 1992 when the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society was started to save the former New York Central's Adirondack Division that originally ran from Utica all of the way to Montreal, Quebec.
In latter years, it was cut back to Lake Placid, a distance of just over 150 miles. Their plan was to start a small tourist railroad of just 4 miles between Thendara to Minnehaha. Their ambitions later involved opening the entire route. Alas, this never transpired.
Today, the railroad only owns from Utica to Tupper Lake, with the remainder abandoned and now a state trail. Beginning in 2023 the Adirondack Railroad will be hosting dinner trains!
Known as the Adirondack Dinner Train they are hosted only on select dates. Each trip departs at 6 PM and lasts a total of 3 hours. The dinners are prepared by Chef Patrick O’Connor, owner of Feast & Festivities by O’Connor’s.
There are different classes available for the trip, including First and Diamond Class (this includes dome car access for maximum viewing) with either private tables or general seating options available.
In addition to their dinner train the railroad hosts a number of their special trains throughout the year on their café car, which feature light snacks and beverages.
Finally, one noteworthy special of interest is the and Beer & Wine Train (departs from Utica). Your train travels to Remsen Station during which time guests can sample a variety of drinks.
The Arcade & Attica is based in Arcade, New York. Its history began as the Attica & Sheldon of 1836, which never made it off paper. The operation, which initially began as an effort to provide local farmers with efficient transportation, later had big dreams of reaching Buffalo, New York with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Attica and Arcade.
Unfortunately, these efforts failed and following numerous name changes, and the line which was completed spent several years as a 3-foot, narrow-gauge operation.
On October 13, 1894 the property was acquired by Spencer Bullis who worked in the lumber industry. He reorganized it as the Buffalo, Arcade & Attica (BA&A) and began to standard-gauge the line; the first segment (Attica-Curriers) was completed on January 9, 1895 with the remainder finished by December 1st. Service commenced the following month.
Afterwards, the line was sold again to the Buffalo & Susquehanna, which was acquire by the Baltimore & Ohio. The BA&A was spun-off as a short line once more. It failed again in 1917 and soon after reorganized as the Arcade & Attica.
The A&A settled into the role of local short line. The late 1950s also saw the A&A's system nearly cut in half when Tonawanda Creek flooded on January 23, 1957. Repairs for the line south of Attica proved too expensive, and the railroad was abandoned above the small community of North Java.
Today, the A&A continues to operate the Arcade - North Java segment as both a freight carrier and passenger line, hauling excursions to the traveling public during the warmer months every year.
They host the "Murder Mystery Dinner Train" in July and August where guests can enjoy a meal (catered by Catered Creations!) and unravel a mystery.
Finally, adults may be interested in their "Ales & Wine On The Rails!" special where spirits can be sampled during the trip. Finally, all regular excursions offer light snacks and refreshments.
The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad, operated by the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society, uses tracks originally built by a company of the same name, the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley.
This system began as the Cooperstown & Susquehanna Valley Railroad Company of 1865 with intentions of connecting Cooperstown to "...a point at or near Colliersville forming a junction with the Albany and Susquehanna Rail Road." according to the railroad's charter.
The Albany & Susquehanna would later become a subsidiary of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, as would the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley, which completed its line on July 14, 1869.
The C&CV has been a heritage railroad since the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society acquired the line from the then-Delaware Otsego Corporation in 1996. Today, they host excursions throughout the warmer months, and also host several specials.
Their trips involving food and/or beverage services includes the Brooks BBQ Dinner Trains and Ice Cream Social Train. To learn more about these events, and all of the railroad's excursions, please visit their website via the link above.
~ At this time the railroad is temporarily closed as the they complete track repairs. Please visit their website for updates. ~
The Delaware & Ulster Railroad is based in Stamford, using trackage originally owned by the Ulster & Delaware Railroad.
Their Rip Van Winkle Flyer whisks passenger back in time aboard dome, tavern, and observation cars to experience rail travel as it was in the mid-20th century, which includes a full-course meal.
They also offer "Twilight On The Rails" where guests can enjoy an evening train ride in the summer, listen to music from "Blues Maneuver," and bring a picnic dinner.