33 railroad places you need to visit in the East

Trains editors list their top 33 railroad locations in the Eastern U.S. to watch, ride, or celebrate railroads, railways, and trains
A Florida East Coast train.
A Florida East Coast train.
TRAINS: Tom Danneman
A version of this list was previously published in the November 2015 issue of Trains Magazine.

1 RAHWAY, N.J. Google Image search Six tracks abreast proclaim speed and intensity on the Northeast Corridor.

2 THURMOND, W.VA. Trip Advisor entry Classic 20th century coal and railroad town deep in the New River Gorge.

3 HELL GATE BRIDGE Google search Opposite of its name, this 1,017-foot span in New York City is a beauty.

4 CASS, W.VA. Shay-powered logging railroad turned tourist line exudes cinders and sawdust.

5 RICHMOND, VA. Two over one isn’t fair. First triple crossing in the U.S.; second is in Kansas City.

6 LAMBERTS POINT, VA. NS’s Pier 6 is the biggest and most efficient coal loading dock.

7 ORBISONIA, PA. Legendary East Broad Top narrow gauge is dormant but intact. 

8 HUEY P. LONG BRIDGE Massive, 7,000-foot-long structure over the Mississippi at New Orleans.

9 GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL New York City masterpiece that survives thanks to the 1963 demise of Pennsylvania Station. 750,000 folks rush through each day.

10 STRASBURG, PA. Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and Strasburg Rail Road tourist line are an unbeatable combination.
Philadelphia's 30th Street Station.
Philadelphia's 30th Street Station.
Trains staff
11 HORSESHOE CURVE  Once four-track Pennsylvania main line across the Alleghenys still impresses with grit and volume.

12 SALUDA GRADE  Silent since 2001, the North Carolina roller coaster drop was the steepest main line grade at 4.7 percent.

13 ANDREWS GEYSER NS has 13 miles of loops, tunnels, and bridges to travel 3 air miles to cross the North Carolina Blue Ridge.

14 LONGEST STRAIGHT STRETCH IN THE U.S. 78.9 miles on CSX’s former Seaboard route between Hamlet, N.C., and Wilmington, N.C.

15 THE RAT HOLE NS’s busy route through Kentucky and Tennessee the hard way.

16 DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. Upstart regional Florida East Coast bucks the trends in classic colors.

17 WHITEFIELD, N.H. Home of the last ball signals that prompted the phrase, “Highball!”

18 ALTOONA, PA. Pennsylvania Railroad’s Juniata Shop complex thrives under NS. Railroaders’ Memorial Museum tells the workers’ story.

19 BALTIMORE, MD. Birthplace of the Baltimore & Ohio as well as home of the world-class B&O Railroad Museum

20 EDDYSTONE, PA. All that is left of the sprawling Baldwin Locomotive Works plant is the headquarters building south of Philly.

A westbound CSX freight skirts the storefronts in downtown Thurmond, W.Va., in the heart of the New River Gorge.
A westbound CSX Transportation freight skirts the storefronts in downtown Thurmond, W.Va., in the heart of the New River Gorge.
Chase Gunnoe
21 WASHINGTON UNION STATION Despite the shopping mall inside, it remains a busy American classic, only steps away from the U.S. Capitol building.

22 HELMSTETTER’S CURVE Google search Classic location on the former Western Maryland, now on the tourist railroad of the same name.

23 SCRANTON, PA. A twofer: The National Park Service museum in the former Lackawanna shop complex and the Alcos of the Delaware-Lackawanna short line.

24 30TH STREET STATION Philadelphia landmark. Arguably America’s best big city railroad station. Look for the angel.

25 KENNESAW, GA. Where the Great Locomotive Chase began; home of the 4-4-0 General.

26 BEREA, OHIO Site of the famous Conrail X, center of the system. Now a CSX and NS junction and busy train-watching site.

27 ERIE, PA. Wabtec plant turns out six-axle units for domestic and worldwide use.

28 BEAR MOUNTAIN BRIDGE, N.Y. Classic Hudson River location. It’s easy to imagine the Century at speed here.

 Google Image search Classic Norfolk & Western grade leading out of Roanoke, Va.

In southwest Virginia. Only location where a Class I railroad, NS, uses a non-manmade passage.

31 HARPERS FERRY, W.VA. Historic and scenic location on CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio main line. Watch westbounds exiting the tunnel.

32 SPENCER, N.C. Largest preserved roundhouse, 37 stalls, at classic Southern Railway shop complex turned museum

33 KEY WEST EXTENSION Henry Flagler’s dream to extend his Florida East Coast south of Florida mainland. Abandoned in 1935.
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