Monday, July 23, 2012

French Lick Scenic Railway

Every summer, the folks in District 9 of Indiana’s Farm Bureau get together for a trip and a meal. This year, we headed out to historic French Lick, Indiana. There are some pretty neat hotels and casinos there, and it’s the home of Pluto Water, but we weren’t there for the gambling or the sulfur cleanse (Pluto Water – When nature can't, Pluto will!). We were bound for the French Lick Scenic Railway at the Indiana Railway Museum!

The railway uses retired commuter rail cars from the 1920’s Needless to say, they are not air-conditioned. And we had planned this trip for what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer so far.

train car interior

At least most of the train ride was through neat woods like this! We were in the shade for almost the entire trip, and with all the windows open on the rail cars, the heat wasn’t all that bad. (For a 105+ degree day, anyway!)

view from the train

It was pretty hard to get photos from the train. The conductor pointed out a 100+ year-old log cabin, and some neat limestone cuts that were made when the railway was built, and a small waterfall coming out of a cave on a hill. But by the time I found what he was talking about, we were too far gone for a photo. Dang it!
Although this train originally ran on steam engines, they are very difficult to keep in service these days. So we didn’t have a steam engine pulling the train, but it’s still a historic piece of equipment.

French Lick train

This was one trip that Farmer Doc and I actually got to take together! (It feels like that rarely happens this time of year…)

John at the train

I think the coolest part (temperature and experience!) of the ride was the trip through the 2200-foot Burton tunnel. This is the second longest rail tunnel in Indiana. (There’s not too many hills here, so we don’t need very many tunnels!) There are no lights in the tunnel, or in the train cars, so it was very dark in the middle of the tunnel! Here’s a video of us coming out the other side… Yes, the video is supposed to be completely black for the first few seconds.

(If you are reading this in your email, you will probably need to click through to the post to be able to see the video.)

The Indiana Railway Museum has a few different “rides.” We were just on the scenic route, but they have events like Wild West hold-ups and a Polar Express ride in the winter. Farmer Doc and I had a really good time on this trip, and will probably go back for one of their special rides later this year.

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