|On the last two Saturdays in October, New Hope Valley Railway (NHVR) will offer train rides and family fun in the rail yard during Track or Treat Halloween Express.|
|This year, marks the 20th year of the family-friendly event, which takes place on Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, with Ghost Train excursions departing at 4, 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. An additional 2:30 p.m.train departure time is being added on Oct. 31.
Tickets are $13 for adults and children (2 and under free) and should be purchased in advance at www.TriangleTrain.com. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to their train departure time.
The first Halloween Train departed Bonsal on Oct. 26, 1996 with 184 riders and was organized by NHVR member Walt Williams and his wife Brenda. Along with others on the all-volunteer railroad staff, they planned and carried out the annual Halloween activities for 11 years.
“Someone suggested a Halloween ride and we jumped on the opportunity to organize it and invite the community out to our rail yard to ride the trains,” said Walt Williams. “Each year, we were looking for ways to make it more fun by adding little details and more to see.”
Today, Track or Treat Halloween Express has grown into a two-Saturday event during the end of October. Along the 8-mileround trip train route, riders will see interactive Halloween scenes. The decorated haunted rail yard will include a 20-foot black cat and pumpkins atop the North Carolina Railroad Museum store train car singing Monster Mash, Ghostbusters and Michael Jackson’sThriller.
Visitors to a stationary train caboose in the rail yard will meet palm reader Iseemore the Magnificent and Dr. CO2, the creator of magical boo bubbles. Children and adults are encouraged to wear their costumes and each child will receive a small gift before the train ride, while supplies last. The earlier train ride times are recommended for younger riders who may be frightened by the Halloween characters.
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream of Apex will serve cups of homemade ice cream in a variety of flavors including pumpkin patch, pumpkin cheesecake, orange sherbet, chocolate cookie dough and Oreo. Attendees can add sprinkles, M&Ms, gummi worms and whipping cream as toppings. Ice cream is not included in the ticket price.
“We strive to make our Track or Treat Halloween Expressevent suitable for all ages to enjoy. It’s a fun event for both children and those who are still children at heart,” said Dave Chasco, NHVR marketing director.
More info: http://www.triangletrain.com/
New Hope Valley Railway will host Track or Treat – a Spooky Ride on the Halloween Express on Saturdays, October 19 and 26, at the rail yard in Bonsal, located off of U.S. Highway 1, just 30 minutes southwest of downtown Raleigh.
Children and adults of all ages will enjoy riding a real locomotive decorated with cob webs and jack-o-lanterns as they encounter witches, goblins and a mysterious ghost train during the hour-long train ride. Riders receive a sweet treat as they exit the train after the 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. rides through the haunted woods.
Visitors can also see the G-Scale garden railroad, visit the North Carolina Railroad Museum and get up close to real railroad cars and equipment in the yard. Riders may visit the gift shop to take home their own Triangle Train whistles, engineer hats and other train memorabilia.
I did some digging through Google recently looking for some sign of the Daniel Boone Railroad. I was amazed to find a sign from the railroad on an auction site. I hope to get to Hillsborough for this auction and buy the sign.
Growing up obsessed with trains both of my grandfathers embraced my obsession and encouraged it effectively. Both took me on many, many train rides. As fate would have it, my Dad’s father lived in Hillsborough, NC. Located right off I-85 at the Hillsborough exit, the Daniel Boone Railroad used to exist within a giant park, not too different than Tweetsie in it’s heyday. Shops, restaurants, rides and from what I can remember, an amazing train ride that ran back into the woods and looped around back to the front of the park. Like Tweetsie, the ride included cowboys and indians jumping on to act out a train robbery and gun fight.
New Hope Valley Railway opens a few weeks earlier this season so it can be part of the statewide North Carolina Science Festival.
The railway, which features seasonal rides on its steam and diesel engines, will open Sunday and feature a day of demonstrations and kids’ activities, along with its regularly scheduled rides. Gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday at the train yard in Bonsal, N.C., which is 10 minutes south of Apex off U.S. 1.
The event will include train science related activities, including how a diesel motor turns a generator to create electricity; how train tracks work; and what’s behind the workings of boilers and nozzles.
Featuring, The Handy Dandy Railroad, The Southeast Threshers Reunion is the greatest steam, gas and antique farm machinery show in the Southeast, featuring 800 antique tractors and gas engines, arts & crafts, border collie demonstration, 15 restored buildings, music, food and more.
The festival is held in Denton Farm Park in Denton, NC, which is located in southern Davidson County.
The story of Denton Farm Park and the Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion must begin with the introduction of Brown Loflin and Howard Latham.
Loflin is a lifelong resident of Davidson County’s Handy community, the home of this museum park. Farmer, entrepreneur and con-summate hobbyist, he has done everything from driving race cars, flying and restoring old machinery to building the park. He is the organizer and director of the Threshers’ Reunion.
Latham, a field engineer for Georgia-Pacific, lives a few miles east in Randolph County. One of their early associations was as co-owners of an airplane based at Loflin’s Denton Airport, a grassed runway with an open-sided shelter as a hangar. Both piloted the airplane, and the airport was a frequent gathering place for other aviation hobbyists and their flying machines.
Latham may have been harboring a desire to be a railroad engineer. Taking vacation during the Reunion, with traditional striped cap and red bandana, he drives the steam locomotive on the park’s standard gauge Handy Dandy Railroad. “It’s hard work and hot,” he said, “but it’s also fun when I see how much it’s enjoyed by kids from 2 to 92.”
Check out Denton Farm Park on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dentonfarmpark
The Flagg 75 steam engine spits, coughs, breathes heavily and blows off a lot of steam before it finally moves.
In other words, I can relate.
I hopped into the cab of the 1930 workhorse locomotive Saturday morning as Engineer John Barnett of Raleigh backed it onto the roundtable at the N.C. Transportation Museum.
We took about a quarter turn before locking in and heading south on our warm-up run. The white steam we released made us a moving cloud at first.
On the right side of the cab, Barnett manned the throttle. Also within reach were the reverse gear, the locomotive and train brakes, injectors for water and even levers to release sand for more traction on the tracks.
“It’s easy to operate, but they can be temperamental,” Barnett said of these coal-fired beasts.
Going forward, Barnett can watch the tracks ahead through a small window. Or in forward or reverse, he can poke his head out the side opening, much like a happy dog hanging out the window of his master’s car.
Also on board was Fireman Gil Williams of Lexington, S.C., and Mike Stovall of Greensboro, a fireman in training. All three men are regular transportation museum volunteers who love anything to do with trains and their operation.
So, it seems The Daniel Boone Railroad and theme park in Hillsborough is fondly remembered by many. These posts continue to be some of the most popular. Recently, I received a note from someone we’ll call “Camo” and he shares the same memories I do. The difference: he’s been to what’s left of the park several times and sent me some pictures. I asked Camo if he’d write up a guest blog post and agreed. Enjoy!
Dear Tarheel Trains,
Growing up in NC in the late sixties and seventies offered many distinct advantages, especially if one were an only child. I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of hand me downs from older cousins. Often these cast offs were in the form of Western toys such as Johnny West. These toys were usually broken or incomplete, but I didn’t mind because I was thrilled just to have them!
To augment the toys of the time, Western theme parks were popular places of amusement. Because of a near catastrophe my family experienced while leaving Beech Mountain (the brakes on my dads Oldsmobile overheated coming down the mountain, a runaway truck ramp saving our lives), those beautiful mountains and their attractions like Tweetsie became off limits due to the fear of a similar mishap occurring again. Fortunately for me, the historic town of Hillsborough was only a few safe miles away.
The Western theme park there was known then as “Daniel Boone Country”. Similar to Tweetsie, it offered a train, costumed cowboys and indians, rides and shows, all set in a Western pioneer village. I first visited there when I was approximately five years old and while I do remember visiting the park on more than one occasion, the details have been lost to time. However, I do remember riding the train and the smell of the black smoke. When Indians attacked along a wooded portion of the track, I became frightened, believing that the attack was real! One of the actors made up as an Indian sat down in the seat in front of my dad and I and calmed my fears, reassuring me that it was all make believe for fun.
By all accounts, it was a magical place. By the time I had graduated high school, the park had sold their train (to Carowinds) and was on its way to becoming defunct. Last summer my wife and I invited my father to join us on our vacation to visit the USS North Carolina in Wilmington. On the way home, my father spotted the exit sign for Hillsborough and asked if I remembered going there as a kid. Of course I did, so we agreed to go back there together. We made that trip a couple of weeks ago.
Very few traces remain of the old park. There are two cabooses being used as rental space for antique shops, and an old passenger car complete with graffiti that sits on a small slice of track under a lean-to. A lot of the old Western style store fronts remain, their weathered paint and abandoned appearance creating the atmosphere of a ghost town. The old Blacksmith shop still stands, complete with hand painted lettering, even though it now serves as a junk shed. Beside the “Antique Mall”, is a storage area where one can find wagons and antique farm equipment rotting in the open. A few feet up the hill stands a dilapidated barn that contains the Daniel Boone stage coach.
Another barn on the premises houses more wagons, antique trucks complete with bullet holes and hand painted signs (by Apache Joe?). At least Daniel, a twenty foot tall “muffler man” type figure still stands. A similar Indian figure that once adorned the roof of the steakhouse across the street has vanished. If one cares to look, one can still find traces of the park in the form of waterwheels (pan for gold attractions?), a miniature covered bridge and a weather vane (part of the old train depot?), but these sights are disappearing daily. An old kiddies’ ride that I saw on a earlier visit, rotting away amongst some weeds, had been cleared away when I returned with my camera (see link for pics). I just got the feeling that whoever owns the park may now be clearing out some of the old left over’s because the gates to the barns were open and the area where that kiddie ride had been was open after previously being cordoned off.
I did make a brief attempt to find old track, but that area is now a trailer park, and I did not want to arouse the suspicion of any tenants by poking around in their backyards. I would urge anyone interested in seeing what is left of the park to make the trip post haste. In these economic times, who knows what the current owner may have in mind for the property. Being an amateur singer/songwriter, my visit inspired me to write a new song about the old park. As soon as it is finished, I will post a link. Thank you all for your interest.
The posts I’ve written about the late Daniel Boone Railroad in Hillsborough are some of the most viewed on the site.
Recently, I received an email from a guy we’ll call “Camo” who has fond memories of riding the train, as I do. He has volunteered to take some new pictures of the area, as well as share some of his old pictures of the RR.
I asked, and soon we’ll have a special guest blog post coming soon from our friend, “Camo.”
Here’s a teaser photo for you. Camo in Hillsborough, in front of old Daniel himself.
Check back soon. More to come…