There is a hidden gem in Fairfield County. If your children love trains, you need to travel whatever distance it is to the state’s only tourist railroad located just south of Winnsboro. The South Carolina Railroad Museum plays host to the Rockton Rion & Western Railroad. The 10 mile, 70 minute train ride is something dreams were made of (not just your children’s either).
For the Children
From June through August the museum offers two scheduled train rides every Saturday (10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). During these hot months, you have the option to ride in an open air car, which my family loved. You are able to stick your head out when given the all clear, and we enjoyed that even on the hottest of days (it was 99 degrees on the Saturday we went) you are able to feel a breeze. There is also a closed coach car attached to the train (which wasn’t offered when we went) along with a caboose (it looked like it could have been an amazing time!)
There are many theme trained rides throughout the year such as the Santa Express featuring a visit from the jolly man himself, as well as Easter and Pumpkin themed trips. Both the Easter and Pumpkin patch train rides offer something extra special. When riding the Pumpkin Patch train you are able to get off at the Greenbriar stop and pick a pumpkin! During the Easter Train, or Eggspress, you get off to see the Easter Bunny! Be sure to book these in advance as space is limited and they do sell out quickly. Bonus, they offer birthday parties!!
For the Adults
The ride takes you through Fairfield County. If you love southern history, jump on this train. There is so much to see along the 10 miles of rails. The conductor explains a lot of the history along the way. It’s great learning about your own area, while your children stare in awe of the machine they are riding.
Kid-free? The Railroad Museum offers many dinner rides. Once a month through October, SCRM hosts a BBQ Dinner Train – perfect date night for a train enthusiast. Like them on Facebook to get updates on other rides that they offer throughout the year.
Do’s and Don’ts
Book your tickets in advance. If we had just showed up, the likelihood of getting on the train would have been low. When we arrived, the train looked almost completely full. The earlier train had already been booked when we went to get our tickets online the night before, so plan ahead!
Bring water. It can get hot on the train. Even with the breeze you are still outside. The museum also offers a gift shop with beverages available.
Arrive early. The conductor starts boarding about 10 minutes before departure. The time on your ticket is departure time. Arrive earlier to see the gallery and the static displays. The steam engine was a favorite of my sons and a wonderful picture opportunity.
Sit under a speaker. We weren’t able to hear the conductor very well because, well, it’s a train. Look up, find a speaker, and sit there – especially if you are in an open air car.
Bring noise cancelling headphones for the little ones. My 5-year-old is okay with noises, to a point. The horn is loud, for a reason. If you have a child who may be sensitive to noise, bring the headphones – especially if you are in an open air train car.