Stay on track to have fun at the New Hope Valley Railway

Destination Vacation

If you and your family are looking for a fun and “freight” time, it’s time to take a trip to the New Hope Valley Railway. From exploring the grounds and seeing all the different trains, to taking a ride in the forest on one of their historic trains, it is a fun way to stay on track to have fun this summer. 

The history is long and rich for the New Hope Valley Railway, although it was not always known by that name. It all began back in 1905 when it was a short line operating from Duncan to Durham. In the mid-1980s, the southern four miles of the line was acquired and is the same spot where the trains run today. The other 26 miles are now the popular American Tobacco Trail! 

The New Hope Valley Railway has a vast array of cars you can check out, including a rolling post office car and a caboose, both from the 1920s. They also house the North Carolina Railway Museum. There is also a gift shop where you can find a souvenir to commemorate your trip! 

Tom Hutchinson is a dedicated volunteer of the New Hope Valley Railway, which is 100% volunteer-run. Their train crew includes car hosts, brakemen, conductors, engineers, dispatchers, ticket booth operations-just about everything you can imagine! 

Hutchinson knows how special the New Hope Valley Railway is and what a unique experience it offers those who visit. 

“This is probably the only opportunity within 125 miles to ride a real historic train. If you’ve always wanted to know, ‘Gee I wonder what it was like in the old days,’ here’s your opportunity.” 

But you can do more than just explore the cars, you can blow off some steam on one of their rides. They have four ride days a month from April through December.

Their rides days are one Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. The weekend rides have four rides on Saturday and three rides on Sunday. Weekday rides are at 10:30 in the morning. Each ride is 50 minutes long. 

Another fun option is renting the Family Caboose! For $100 you can have up to ten passengers in the caboose with you! 

If being in the driver’s seat sounds more “a-track-tive” to you, then their “Operate-a-Loco” program is the course you need to take.

“You can essentially be the engineer for a day. It’s a one-hour experience. We’ll put you right at the throttle with one of our experienced engineers, and you can take the locomotive out four miles to the end of our line then come back.”

The cost for “Operate-a-Loco” is $175.

The New Hope Valley Railway is also brewing up some fun one Saturday a month with their Brew ‘n’ Choo where local breweries and food trucks are on the property. They have four rides on those days, beginning at 1 p.m. and running every 90 minutes. 

Now we all love fun festivities around the holidays, and so does New Hope Valley Railway! They have special rides at Halloween and Christmas. 

Their Track or Treat Halloween Express is spook-tacular! You’ll be greeted by Dracula, a grave digger and even a flying witch! You will also want to check out the Singing Pumpkins!

They also have their Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express rides in December. Those rides are the first Saturday and Sunday, second Saturday and Sunday and third Saturday in December. 

“For the Reindeer Roundup, we have five rides a day. And out along the right of way, we have the reindeer, Santa’s Reindeer, and so the kids on the train, it’s almost like a scavenger hunt to find all the reindeer. And then we have a big sleigh set up in our yard on that platform with Santa Claus, and the kids can visit Santa,” says Hutchinson. 

If you are interested in either of these festive rides-make sure you keep an eye out for tickets and buy them before they sell out! It is a popular event each year! Tickets should be on their website by late July. 

You can also go to the rail yard and watch the Garden Railroad (G Scale) that operates on more than 1,000 feet of track! 

The New Hope Valley Railway is a nonprofit. Their funding comes from ticket sales and donations. So to keep chugging along, they need you. 

“Most of our revenue comes from rides, so the best thing is just to come out and ride with us. It’s $9 for a child, $11 for a senior and $12 for an adult for the 50 minute ride,” encourages Hutchinson.

Masks are required for passengers and crews on the trains. To learn more about their mission, membership and how to donate, head to their website,

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