Wilmington & Western Railroad
The only heritage railroad in Delaware, Wilmington & Western Railroad will— literally—transport you straight into the past. This 10.2-mile railroad has been designated a National Historic District, and it is one of the most popular excursions in Wilmington.
Visitors can embark upon steam- or diesel-powered locomotive tours of the Red Clay Creek region with a ride on the Wilmington & Western Railroad. The track winds through stunning mid-Atlantic scenery, passing landmarks such as Greenbank Mill, Brandywine Springs Park, and Wooddale Quarry. Each ride begins at Greenbank Station, and may go all the way to Ashland, Yorklyn, or Hockessin, depending on which excursion is booked.
The entire area is rich with history: Brandywine Springs Park, now defunct, was a popular amusement park in the 1800s; the milling industry was revolutionized in Faulkland; Hockessin was settled in the 1680s. Every stretch of tranquil countryside along the Wilmington & Western Railroad is evidence of Delaware’s extensive history as one of the thirteen original colonies.
The Railroad itself was first chartered in 1867 to transport goods from Red Clay Creek’s mills to the Port of Wilmington. It opened to passengers and freight transport in 1872. It was foreclosed upon in 1877 due to poor management, but later reopened as the Delaware Western Railroad and later on as the Landenberg Branch of the Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad. The railroad’s passenger transport business began to thrive in the 1880s when a popular summer resort opened at Brandywine Springs, but the Great Depression caused a sharp decline in the railroad’s usage.
The Historic Red Clay Valley Inc. (HRCV) began operating tourist trains on the line in the mid-1960s, under the name of Wilmington & Western Railroad, as it was originally known. The HRCV aims to share the beauty, history, and industry of the Red Clay Valley through the operation of the Wilmington & Western.
This scenic line can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. There are weekend excursion trains to Mt. Cuba, Yorklyn, or Hockessin, which are between one and three hours for a round trip. These trips can take place on a first-generation diesel train, a 1929 Pennsylvania Railroad Doodlebug, or an antique steam locomotive. The Wilmington & Western also hosts special events, such as the Autumn Leaf Special, which highlights the changing colors of the season, Brews on Board, which offers a selection of local craft beers throughout the journey, and the Ice Princess Express, where performers host a special sing-along.
No matter the event or destination, a journey on this railroad will be filled with breathtaking views of the Red Clay Valley and fascinating stories of Delaware’s industrial origins. The railroad operates from the beginning of spring through December 30, with trains almost every weekend, and additional excursions on weekdays. Fares start at $18 for adults for the shortest excursion, the Yorkland limited.
Enjoy a leisurely picnic at a stop in Mt. Cuba, explore a local shop during a layover in Hockessin, or simply relax onboard a historic locomotive with a ride on the Wilmington & Western Railroad.
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