Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Delaware and Ulster Railroad in Arkville NY

The Vista Dome Car

There are many fun ways to spend a day in the country. One that I enjoy is finding a “Heritage Railway” for a ride. A heritage railway uses classic cars and engines to take passengers on a trip through the countryside. On a trip to the western Catskills last fall I found the Delaware and Ulster Railroad.

The Delaware and Ulster Railroad (DURR) operates out of the town of Arkville NY. Its track is part of a rail line that has its roots in the 1860’s. In 1868 Thomas Cornell, founder of the Cornell Steamboat Company chartered the Roundout and Qswego Railroad to bring supplies and goods from towns in Central and Western New York to his pier in Kingston, along the Hudson River. While he never completed his plans to build all the way to Lake Erie, his railway began to carry passengers for the nascent summer holiday businesses in the Catskill Mountains. The passenger and freight service continued through several incarnations until passenger service ended in 1954. Conrail continued to operate freight service along the line until 1976. In 1980 the Catskill Revitalization Corp. acquired the right-of-way, and the DURR began operations in 1983.

Thomas Cornell by Mathew Brady / Public domain via wikicommons

The DURR operates the Rip Van Winkle Flyer, a five-car train that includes a Vista Dome car (built in 1948), a tavern lounge car (1948), an observation car (1950), and a baggage/generator car. It offers lunch and dinner reservations, using the vista dome car as its dining car. The lounge car is beautiful, with banquettes and tables. The observation car has had all of its original seating removed, and has replaced it with tables and folding chairs.

Vista Dome Dining Car

Tavern Lounge

Observation Car

The DURR’s terminal in Arkville is the Arkville Depot. I strongly suggest arriving early for your trip, as the depot has many excellent displays covering the history of train travel through the Catskills. I also suggest bringing some refreshments, as the DURR does not sell food or drink on the trip, unless you have reserved a meal in the vista dome car.

The main ride offered by the DURR is a 24-mile round trip between Arkville and Roxbury. It is a 2.5-hour ride that follows the East Branch of the Delaware River through beautiful riverbanks, lakes and marshes. One thing that I really enjoyed is that the ride is done at fairly slow speed (about 10-15 mph) so there is plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as it rolls by.

Trainspotters followed us on the ride

The engine came round to rear of the train for the return trip

If you enjoy classic trains, or just a day in the country, The Delaware and Ulster Railroad is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Nuts and Bolts:
Tickets: Adults $18/ Seniors $15/ Children $12

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