Although ten-year-old Tommy long ago outgrew his obsession with trains, we still have a real fondness in our family for steam engines. So I was thrilled to learn that our Bucks County visit to New Hope, Pennsylvnia would include a ride on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad.
Our ride almost wasn’t to be. I had checked our GPS and it said that the drive from Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve where we were enjoying a late afternoon stroll was four minutes – hypothetically true, but not when you end up sitting in a crush of Labor Day weekend traffic in New Hope, which as we learned that afternoon has only two main streets and lots of visitors.
Thankfully, before the train departs all passengers have the opportunity to pose for a photograph with the conductor on the platform (the pictures are printed and sold during the ride as part of the railroad’s fundraising efforts). This gave me a chance to pick up our tickets while Matt parked the car at the far end of the large lot behind the station and then sprinted to our side just as the whistle was blowing. We got on board in a dramatic puff of stream and were off.
Our first-class tickets meant we got to ride in the plush comfort of the air-conditioned club car, where we sipped sodas and waved to the tourists gathered on the sidewalk. The first thing we learned was that the railroad bridge out of town is where the famous silent-movie train scene from the 1914 film The Perils of Pauline was filmed (think a bad guy in a top hat twirling his mustache).
The boys were also delighted to learn that the train’s engine – Old Number 40 – was built in Wilmington, Delaware just up the road from our house.
One advantage to a first-class ticket is that you ride in the car behind the engine on the way out of town. If you’ve got a real train-loving kiddo, I’d recommend this because you can watch the fireman shovel the coal and the engine uncoupling mid-ride before it moves on the siding to the other end of the train.
A ride on the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad was just the thing to do after a very busy morning and early afternoon spent exploring Washington Crossing Historic Park. At 45-minutes, it was the perfect length – relaxing, but not so long that seven-year-old Teddy got bored. The train takes you through the beautiful Bucks County countryside, with views that you can’t get from any road.
I’m certainly glad we didn’t miss the train!
Many thanks to Visit Bucks County and the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad for giving us first-class tickets and beverage coupons.
- Trains depart from the New Hope station hourly from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the end of May through October before moving to a weekend schedule in November. But there are also lots of special holiday trains at the end of the year including Trick or Treat trains on weekends in October and North Pole trains with Santa and Mrs. Claus throughout December. You can see a month-to-month schedule and buy tickets for all trains online.
- For a great view of the trains as they come and go (and some pretty tasty beer as an accompaniment), have a meal on the second floor of the Triumph Brewing Company next door to the platform.
- Leave yourself enough time to get through traffic in downtown New Hope, which can be fierce, especially on weekends. The train station is right in the middle of town.
- The parking lot behind the train station costs $15, but you can leave your car there and explore the rest of the town when you are finished with the train ride.
- Want to spend the weekend in New Hope? You can walk to the train station from the Wedgwood Inn.