The Wabash Cannonball, the Orange Blossom Special, The City of New Orleans. What is it about trains that make them the subject of so many songs Ė and so many dreams?
I like trains. Iíve been on many scenic train rides, so I knew what to expect on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. Or so I thought. My experience "riding the rails" on this Meredith, NH railroad greatly exceeded my expectations.
My husband and I took actually took two rides on the line, the Turkey Dinner Train on Saturday and a four-hour Foliage Train Ride on Sunday.
We boarded the dinner train on a Saturday evening. We just happened to be in New Hampshire on a rainy weekend, but the rain just added to the mood that night. We were seated a small table decorated with harvest centerpieces. The car was festive, dressed for fall. Strings of vinyl red, orange and maroon leaves hung from the ceiling.
As we were waiting to leave, the conductor entered the car. "Excuse me," he said. "Thereís a family thatís going to be late because they got lost. We thought we should wait for them. What do you think?"
Most people murmured agreement, some nodded. We didnít have to wait very long. The lost family arrived and we were on our way.
We didnít have to wait long for dinner, either. Shortly after the train left the station, servers rolled up with a dinner cart. Hot slices of turkey were carved and served at our table. Accompanying it was mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, squash, cranberry sauce, rolls and butter. Beverage choices were coffee, lemonade and water. Rounding out the meal was ice cream for dessert. It was all delicious but too much for either of us to finish.
The turkey dinner is catered by Hartís Turkey Farm Restaurant of Meredith. Hartís is family-owned and has been in operation since 1954. If you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Hartís. Be sure to check out their turkey weathervane!
After dinner, it was time to get down to business Ė enjoying the trip. We sat back in our seats and watched the scenery go by.
The Dinner Train runs south to Lakeport, embracing the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. From the lights under the car, we could see the wind-driven water slapping the shore. The night had a mysterious feel to it.
We passed through Weirís Beach, by the Train Depot, by houses and streetlights, and on down to Lakeport. One scene Iíll never forget is the silhouette of a young boy, face pressed against a screen door, watching the train go by.
It may have been windy and rainy outside, but it was cozy on the train. The staff was friendly and attentive; the sway of the car, intoxicating. I could have ridden that train forever.
All too soon, the ride was over. I consoled myself with the fact that we would be taking another train trip the next day.
The Lake Winnipesaukee Railroad is located in Meredith, NH, and is a division of the Hobo Railroad, based in Lincoln. They offer a variety of train rides and events, including one and two-hour rides, Party Caboose Rides, Murder Mystery Turkey Dinner Trains, and special shuttle service between Meredith, Lakeport and Lakeport during Motorcycle Week. On some rides, you can purchase a Hobo Picnic Lunchģ, a sandwich, chips, drink and giant cookie wrapped in a hobo bundle on a stick. For more information, visit their website or call 603-745-2135.