Brew and Choo – The Triangle Train and North Carolina Railway Museum

New Hope Valley Railway Excursion train

Bonsal, North Carolina.

Knowing my interest in trains and having an acquaintance who also happens to be an engineer volunteer on the New Hope Valley Railway, my son, Josh, arranged an outing at the railroad museum and a ride on the Triangle Train. Our tickets were part of a fundraiser that offers a vendor on the property that sells beer and food and a train ride. Each Brew & Choo raises funds toward the restoration of a piece of railroad equipment.

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Depot and ticket window

Just off the site’s parking lot, a small train depot has a walk-up window where an agent sells tickets for the day’s excursions. I’d recommend ordering tickets online in advance as certain excursions on any month’s itinerary can sell out early. There are three excursions on the October schedule, the 15th, 22nd, and 29th. If by the time you read this, there are no tickets available for the Track or Treat Halloween Express on any of the 15 available excursions on the three days in October’s schedule, there are two runs available in November, and there are 20 excursions on the schedule for Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express in December.

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Sidings on the museum grounds

After boarding the train with our beverages in hand, we heard the “All Aboard” call and the train left the station with a jerk (No snide remarks from the readers, please. >grin<).

As we rolled through the railroad yard on our way for the 8-mile round trip that takes about an hour, we passed through lots of old railroad equipment, clearly in need of repair, but possibly future exhibits for the museum.

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Last run of the day

It was a beautiful day in late May, and we were on the last run of the day. The golden sun warmed visitors in the open cars as we rode on the remnants of an old Southern Railroad Line that was purchased by a group of investors to create the New Hope Valley Railway.

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Switching directions

The all-volunteer train line began excursions in 1984. Concluding the four-mile run at New Hill, NC, the engineer detaches the engine and moves onto a siding to reconnect to the other end of the train for the return trip.

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Engineer and fireman passing our car on the way to the other end of the train

The line, always operating with volunteers, had very sporadic operations in those early years, but once they attracted more volunteers, they expanded operations and began limited scheduled operations, a couple of days each month between April and December.

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North Carolina forest

The run is through mostly forested areas, and I think I found the best time for photography with the warm golden hour light filtering through the trees. Since the train itself doesn’t loop around, you may want to change sides for the return trip, if there’s seating available, so you can get a better view of the other side of the track.

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Rural North Carolina

This image at the edge of a residence is probably my favorite of the photos I captured on the excursion. It was processed in Lightroom for basic edits and finished in Luminar Neo.

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Postal Service Rail Car

Yes, they had post offices on trains back in the day. This car is open for visitors to walk up and view the interior.

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Highway by the entrance to the railway yard and museum

The railroad museum property is divided by a highway. There are two bridges that span the highway, a pedestrian bridge (from where I captured this image) and the railway bridge for rail assets to cross.

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Garden railroad

Just east of the depot/ticket window there is a large G (garden) scale railroad display. As you can see, the buildings and rail assets are quite large and designed for outdoor display use. The model railway is tended by volunteers. It’s not your grandfather’s HO rail set, for sure.

All in all, we had a fun outing with our son and daughter-in-law, and a couple of days later, I met Jim, that engineer friend of Josh’s, and we had a nice long chat about railroading. I know so little, so I absorbed a lot. In the process, I asked him about interesting railroading places to visit in the east and he gave me a few places that he feels are worth the time to stop and visit. We’ll be ready for that trip about the time this post is scheduled to publish.

The historical information and train schedules are available on the railway museum’s website here. If you’d like to pixel peep at any of the 2K HD versions of these images, just click on them to go to my Flickr site, or you can view the entire gallery here.

John Steiner


  1. How fun! My dad started out as a fierman for the B&O Railroad out of Dayton, Ohio, then later became a engineer. He rode the rails for 17 yrs before retiring and the stories he has! Love the shots!

  2. After what trains have contributed to the founding of Canada and the United States, I feel we are a little ungrateful not to make better use of them today.

    • That is so true. I considered a trip to the Southwest recently by train and the cost and layovers made it not worthwhile in either time or money. Most of that is because of lack of ridership.

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