West Virginia Polar Express Train Rides (2023): A Complete Guide

Published: April 3, 2023

By: Adam Burns

There is one location in West Virginia hosting official "The Polar Express" train rides, the West Virginia Central/Durbin & Greenbrier Valley in Elkins. This popular events, with trains running over a section of the old Western Maryland Railway, draws in thousands of visitors from the surrounding states and beyond.

It also sells out quickly so if you are interested in riding the train check their website often for the latest regarding when tickets go on sale!  More information about this trip may be found further below.

Finally, if you are interested in other holiday events the entire family can enjoy together the following are popular across West Virginia.  While the state does not have as many Christmas activities as you may find elsewhere there are several locations which put on excellent light displays during November and December.

87623846235273860290634739878.jpgThe Durbin & Greenbrier Valley/West Virginia Central's popular "Polar Express" event is seen here at the historic Western Maryland Railway depot in Elkins, West Virginia. Loyd Lowry photo.

Other Christmas Activities

Oglebay Resort

Wheeling, West Virginia, is known for its impressive holiday light display, which includes over 300 acres of festive light displays. The resort offers a guided tour of the light display on board a trolley, which is a perfect way to enjoy the holiday lights with your family.

The Greenbrier Resort

The Greenbrier, located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, offers a Christmas light tour that takes visitors through the resort's beautiful holiday light displays. The tour includes a ride on a festively decorated shuttle, along with hot cocoa and cookies to keep you warm.

Charleston Town Center

The Charleston Town Center Mall in Charleston, West Virginia, hosts a holiday lights tour that takes visitors through the city's holiday light displays. The tour includes a ride on a trolley, and visitors can enjoy the city's festive decorations while listening to Christmas music.

The Christmas Light Show

The Christmas Light Show in Kenova, West Virginia, is a popular holiday lights tour that features over 1 million lights synchronized to music. Visitors can drive through the light display or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Winter Festival of Lights

The Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia, is one of the largest holiday light displays in the country. The festival features over 300 acres of light displays, including a 2-mile drive-through display and several walking light displays.

Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter

The Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter in Huntington, West Virginia, offers a holiday lights tour that features a mile-long drive through a light display. Visitors can enjoy the light display while helping to support the shelter's efforts to help animals in need.

Guide Information

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad/West Virginia Central Railroad

The West Virginia Central has become the de facto name for all of the Mountain State's tourist trains operated by John and Kathy Smith. 

These include the original WVC (ex-Western Maryland trackage around Elkins), the world-famous Cass Scenic Railroad at Cass, and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley in Durbin. 

What is today transforming into a fluid, interconnected, and very popular attraction was nearly all abandoned (save for Cass Scenic) after CSX Transportation (successor to the Chesapeake & Ohio and Western Maryland) wanted rid of these lines during the 1980's and 1990's. 

The WVC currently provides the single, longest trip as patrons are whisked southward from Elkins in climate-controlled cars.  They offer many different excursions and packages throughout the year. 

In addition, the railroad hosts one of the most popular versions of The Polar Express during November and December.  The trains board at the restored Western Maryland depot in Elkins with the journey lasting about an hour.  

While not related to official "The Polar Express" trips the railroad achieved a major milestone in 2023 by reopening the former Chesapeake & Ohio's "Greenbrier Branch" from Cass to rural Durbin, West Virginia.

This segment of track runs directly along the Greenbrier River and has not witnessed a train since the severe floods of 1985 washed away the track.  The line is sure to be a major draw for visitors due to its rural location, natural beauty, and the West Virginia Central's reputation for offering first-class excursions.

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