A couple of years ago, my family and I stumbled upon the Riverside and Great Northern Railway in the Dells. They offer a really charming train ride through 3 miles of beautiful scenery adjacent to the Wisconsin River north of Wisconsin Dells. The train that they operate is on a 15″ gauge track (much smaller than the typical 4′ + track of a full sized train). When we visited in 2006, the train went 3 miles or so into the woods, and then drove backwards back to the train station. Going backwards on the train was a little odd, to say the least. Since that time, they have installed turntables at both ends of the line. When the train reaches the end of the line, the engineer unhooks the engine, turns it around on the turntable, and then hooks it to the last car and makes the way back to the station. They repeat this procedure once they get back to the station.

In the month of October, the Riverside and Great Northern Railway operates its Pumpkin Train. The Pumpkin Train can make for a very nice fall family activity.  The ride is the same, but on the way back the train stops about halfway back so everyone can get out, and the kids can pick out a pumpkin. The entire trip takes about 40 minutes.  Once you are back at the station, there is a train museum and learning center, plus a train museum store.

The Riverside and Great Northern Railway is run by a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring steam powered, light railway trains. Train rides cost $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $8 for children 4 and up. Admission to the museum and learning center is free. You can use this coupon from the Riverside and Great Northern Railway website for $1 off each admission.

Check out the Riverside and Great Northern Railway website for hours and additional details.

Image © Jennifer Lamb

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6 Responses to “The Pumpkin Train on the Riverside and Great Northern Railway”

  1. Hey, thanks! Great work! We love riding the R&GN.

  2. By the way, there has been a turntable at each end of the ride for as long as I can remember, but in Spring 2005, they had a washout just short of the far end of the line. The train you rode had to back up because they hadn’t installed the new bridge yet!

  3. I thought we had gone over the newly constructed bridge when we were there. Maybe we didn’t though. I do remember the return ride was backwards. I’ll have to inquire the next time we visit. Thanks for the use of your picture and for posting!

  4. On behalf of the 80+ volunteers of the R&GN thanks for writing such kind words about the best kept secret in the Dells. Just to set the record straight your memory was pretty close, the washout was in June of 2004 the bridge wasn’t finished until May 2006. The track from the bridge to the end-of-track (Western Spings) was removed along with the turntable to accomodate the heavy equipment required to build the bridge. While the tracks were in use in May of 2006 the turntable was not completed until April of 2007. During 2008 we ran primarily with steam trains during and after the seasson to the delight of thousands of guests young and older-young! Technically we are called a point-to-point railway which utilizes turntables and shoe-fly tracks to reverse our locomotives. From an engineer’s point of view it is a whole bunch easier to look out the front window of a steam engine than over the coal pile of the tender. The R&GN has over 250 members celebrating our 20th year as a non-profit preservation society. Our season will open on Saturday April 4th beginning with weekends only. With this being April in Wisconsin, check the weather for blizzards, storms and yes even nice weather…see ya soon. PS There will be two steam locomotives this year operating!!!

    David Simerson
    General Manager
    Riverside & Great Northern
    http://www.DellsTrain.com

  5. Thanks for your post David! I agree that the Riverside & Great Northern is one of the best kept secrets in the Dells. That will change this year as I am sure your participation in the Dells City Pass program will boost attendance significantly. Thanks for checking in!

  6. You were absolute right the Dells City Pass program was a wonderful boost to our ridership numbers. We have been very fortunate to have an increase in ridership, sales and membership over the past three years even though the economy has been dealt some serious blows, fuel prices have fluctuated greatly and if you remember Lake Delton emptied out three years ago. During the past three years our buildings have been painted, several new coaches have been built and there has been excellent support from our volunteer membership! We set several new records last year, but the most important part…the families had a wonderful time visiting here. We continue to be humbled by the love and well wishes of so many kind folks who just love trains. It is a wonderful feeling to be part of their vacations and such a big part of their memories.

    David Simerson
    Director
    Riverside & Great Northern Railway

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