The Hogwarts Express is hiding in the Hudson Valley.
Ok, the Catskill Mountain Railroad is not exactly the Harry Potter railway line, but it’s pretty darn close. This season, it’s bringing travelers on spooky and magical rides through the local scenic region.
For Halloween, Rails of Terror is the perfect adventure for people who are brave enough to take a spooky ride on the dark side. Once the train departs from the Kingston station, riders begin an otherworldly journey with mysterious hostess, Lady Eloise. With creatures that appear from nowhere and skin-tingling ghost stories that give even the hardiest of guests a fright, the haunted voyage is a chilling, thrilling way to celebrate the All Hallows’ season.
Haunted train tours are available Fridays and Saturdays from October 12-27 at either 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $38 for adults and $30 for children ages 2 to 12. According to the website, the event is recommended for teens and adults.
Starting on November 16 and running through December 28, the historic tracks are home to The Polar Express. Just in time for the holidays, riders can relive the classic cinematographic story and embrace the winter spirit.
Once aboard, the conductor greets each guest to punch golden tickets. Riders can sip hot chocolate and munch on cookies as they watch the Hudson Valley scenery pass along the way. Throughout the journey to the North Pole, characters in each of the cars lead caroling groups, just like in the movie.
When the train rolls to a stop at the Pole, Santa awaits to greet each rider and bestow the first gift of Christmas, a silver sleigh bell.
Ticket prices for The Polar Express vary based on off-peak and peak dates. The holiday ride is family-friendly and suitable for all ages.
As for the history of the railroad line itself, the story is a long one that dates to the mid-1800s. For almost 150 years, the tracks of the Catskill Mountain Railroad have connected people and communities along the Hudson River. Construction of the railroad began in 1868 and expanded each year from Olive Branch to Phoenicia to Arkville and eventually to Roxbury by 1872. By 1900, the railroad finished construction of its western terminal and reached Oneonta to connect with the Delaware and Hudson Railway. In 2012, after years of freight-only use and negotiations, the line reopened for themed tours throughout the year.