The Old-Fashioned Way

(Photo: Melissa Kania)

Have you ever been on a train? I’m not talking about a high-tech, speed demon Amtrak train – I’m talking about an old-fashioned steam locomotive, powered partly by coal, used largely throughout history. If not… maybe it’s time you give it a try. Here’s how.

A fun and interesting experience for families, individuals and groups year-round is the Arcade and Attica Railroad, located about 42 miles south of Buffalo in Arcade, NY.

Round-trip tickets for the railroad are just $13 per person, and children under the age of two are free provided that they sit on a parent’s lap. Reservations are recommended, particularly for holiday or special event trains, and trains depart at either noon or 2 p.m.

The trip begins at the station in Arcade, located at 278 Main Street. It’s suggested that you arrive early – about an hour before your train is scheduled to depart – because parking can be tricky to find. There are a few lots, and parking is also available on Main Street in the area.

Once you’ve arrived, get in line and pick up your tickets. (This is another reason why arriving early is suggested: the ticket line can get long!) The station also has a store with many Buffalo and train-related gift items for reasonable prices.

An indoor waiting area at the back of the station is where you’ll head next. A concession stand – cash only! – sells fares such as popcorn, hot dogs, candy and beverages. Eat while you wait, or take your food on the train. There is also a food cart open during the train ride.

Your ticket will have an assigned car and seat number, which is nice because it prevents total chaos and keeps things organized. If you’re buying more than one ticket, be sure to buy together so your seats will be together!

The train itself is nice. Seats can be flipped so you’re facing forward or backward – you may want to change this depending on if you’re in a group or not so you can sit facing your companions. Once the ride starts, someone will come along and ask for your tickets – so have them ready – and will punch a small hole in them. Hearing him yell “Tickets!” certainly may take you back in history.

You’ll travel for about 30 minutes, to Curriers, New York, where the train will stop at another depot. At this point, passengers can exit the train, walk around and check out some of the historical railroad displays. Restrooms are available, as well as a concession stand selling hot dogs, cider and donuts. Photos are available with the conductor, and you can watch as the train crew checks the brakes and turns the engine car around.

One thing of note is that the train doesn’t actually turn around. Instead, the engine car detaches from one end and attaches to the other – so if you’re in the back car on the way in, you’ll be in the front car on the way out.

Also a note: the train doesย not travel to Attica, despite the name.

Enjoy the scenery, and if the weather permits, check out the gondola car. It’s open – no assigned seats, but there are benches to sit on or you can simply stand – with no windows so you get the full effect of being outdoors. It’s here that you can also get the best experience of the train ride – being by the steam whistle when it blows, seeing the smoke, and watching the crew switch the brakes.

This year is the railroad’s 50th year of operations, so if you’ve never been down there… what are you waiting for?!

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