Now I know why everybody on the old 1800’s trains wore black overcoats- when the steam whistle blew, the coal ash flew back onto the passengers, like a smoker’s fairy dust.
And that is the way it is on Durbin-Greenbrier Valley Railroad.
That is because most of the passengers want to sit on a bench or stand at the railing of the outdoor passenger car-a cross between a third-world passenger deck/picnic coach alfresco- directly in back of the steam engine. And while the outbound ride usually consists of a smattering of inconsistent particulates, the return voyage -the ash more likely to accumulate like a nuclear fallout- often drives these open-air enthusiasts toward the caboose….
…which means traveling through the train corridor…
…to a seat more comfortable for viewing scenes like this…
…unless you just want to find the caboose.
Strangely enough, the Durbin-Greenbrier Valley Railroad train stops at a picnic spot along the Greenbrier River often to pick up a wayward caboose. This attachment often comes with a couple, a family, and even grandparents. They can stay the night or two in grand palatial splendor aboard the sleeper’s caboose, a mere $240 dollar a night deal, complete with a miniature refrigerator, carpet, a functional bed and sleeping couch, fun nooks and crannies for the kids to hide in, and even a workable toilet.
We picked up a party of six from the “stranded” caboose before finding another stay beyond it…a nice income for the railroad line. The caboose stays help them maintain a tourist business in an area hit hard by the economic uncertainty of the current inland American economy.
And while the train ride is enjoyable, the frequency of ash blows reminds the passenger that in the old days, coal ash was as common as the wind, no one gave it much thought.
…and neither did most of our passengers, as we stopped to enjoy places like this…