Valley vistas: New excursion in Staunton

A short 20-mile jaunt through the central Shenandoah Valley doesn't sound like it could be all that compelling. That stretch of the Valley between Staunton and Harrisonburg is nice– the views of the mountains to the east and west, the farmland– but is it worth getting all worked up over?

And anyway, is the view of the world from a train that different from the view from the window of a car?

"It is. It's a different world," says Larry LeMond, president of the Eastern Shore Railroad, the company that operates the Shenandoah Valley Railroad connecting Staunton to Pleasant Valley.

Shenandoah Valley Railroad is offering a series of two-hour excursion rides on Sundays in October to show how different the world looks from a train window.

The Railroad is primarily a freight railroad, moving products from foodstuffs to propane gas to fertilizers. But LeMond says, "We've been looking to do something like this as a trial balloon to see if it would work, and decided that this would be the year to try it."

The response, he says, has been "overwhelming."

The railroad had 3,500 tickets, and as of Friday, September 16, more than 2,800 had been sold. Trips on October 8, 16, and 23 have sold out, LeMond says, adding,"The phones have been ringing off the hook."

Looks like the trial balloon is flying high.

"It's a very good sign," LeMond says. "We're going to sit down at the end of the month and decide what we want to do next year."

The Virginia Central Railroad leased its historic cars to the Shenandoah Valley Railroad for this excursion.