Families, train enthusiasts and others living in the Raleigh – Durham area looking for a fun and educational day-trip destination should check out the Triangle Train aka New Hope Valley Railway (NHVR). The all-volunteer, nonprofit railway’s 2018 season officially kicked off earlier this month and runs from April to December with many fun & awesome themed event rides. For more than 30 years now, New Hope Valley Railway, the Triangle’s Train, has offered excursion rides on vintage equipment pulled by real working trains.

Located in Southwestern Wake County, sandwiched between Jordan Lake and Harris Lake in Bonsal, about 1/2 hour drive from Raleigh, NHVR’s location is ideal for families and train enthusiasts living in the Triangle and around the state looking for a fun and educational day-trip destination. Children of all ages, parents, grandparents, and others can enjoy a day together riding a train, learning about railroad history, watching the Garden Railroad (G Scale), visiting the outdoor North Carolina Railway Museum and gift shop, or viewing equipment in the rail yard.

” We have many themed event rides planned for the 2018 season, including a strawberry festival, beach party, luau, ice cream social, pizza party and our popular Halloween and Santa trains… Funds generated from ride days, along with donations, enable the volunteers to preserve railroad history and share their love of trains with others “

– Peter Jasion, NHVR marketing manager


During ride days food is available, including a kid-friendly menu. Adults ages 21+ can enjoy beer and wine during Brew ‘n’ Choo events, which typically occur the last Saturday of the month from April to September. Food and drink are not included in the train excursion fee. Free short tours of the North Carolina Railway Museum are planned to begin 45 minutes before each train departure time on ride days.

Additionally, train enthusiasts ages 16 and up with a valid driver’s license can experience driving a real diesel locomotive from the engineer’s seat through NHVR’s Operate-a-Loco program and the railway’s vintage 1913 caboose is available for rent as a party room for birthdays and special occasions.

You can plan your visit to NHVR by visiting their official website at TriangleTrain.com. Online visitors can view the full 2018 ride schedule, see train departure times and purchase tickets. Any unsold tickets will be available at the railway ticket booth one hour before the first ride.

Here are dates for the 2018 New Hope Valley Railway train rides on Saturdays & Sundays:

  • April 8 – North Carolina Science Festival
  • April 28 – Brew ‘n’ Choo Strawberry Festival
  • May 12 – Celebrate Mom
  • May 26 – Brew ‘n’ Choo Beach Party
  • June 10 – Slow Down Sunday
  • June 30 – Brew ‘n’ Choo Luau
  • July 8 – Slow Down Sunday
  • July 28 – Brew ‘n’ Choo Ice Cream Social
  • August 12 – Slow Down Sunday
  • August 25 – Brew ‘n’ Choo Pizza Party
  • September 9 – Slow Down Sunday
  • September 29 – Beer, BBQ & Choo Choo
  • October 13 – Track or Treat: Halloween Express
  • October 20 – Track or Treat: Halloween Express
  • October 27 – Track or Treat: Halloween Express
  • November 11 – Slow Down Sunday
  • December 1 – Holiday Santa Trains
  • December 2 – Holiday Santa Trains
  • December 8 – Holiday Santa Trains
  • December 9 – Holiday Santa Trains
  • December 15 – Holiday Santa Trains

Weekday Ride Days Are Second Wednesdays and Fourth Fridays Monthly:

  • April 11
  • April 27
  • May 9
  • May 25
  • June 13
  • June 22
  • July 11
  • July 27
  • August 8
  • August 24
  • September 12
  • September 28
  • November 14

About the New Hope Valley Railway (NHVR)

New Hope Valley Railway, the Triangle’s Train, straddles the historic towns of Bonsal and New Hill, North Carolina, 30-minutes southwest of Raleigh, off of U.S. Highway 1, Exit 89. A real train takes passengers on one-hour scenic rides through the woods in covered, open-air train cars. The organization was chartered in 1983 as the East Carolina Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and soon began its all-volunteer operated public train ride days.

Also available are opportunities to operate a locomotive, host a birthday party in a historic caboose, and visit the North Carolina Railway Museum, Garden Railroad (G Scale) and gift shop.

History, 1983 – Present Day

In 1983, the East Carolina Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society renamed the rail yard and the four and a half miles of track it purchased from Southern Railway back to its original name, the New Hope Valley Railway (NHVRy). It also earned the nickname of The Lightnin’ Bug Route because when volunteers worked into the evening hours, they noticed hundreds of fireflies lighting up the area.

The nonprofit group first began its volunteer-operated train rides in the spring of 1984 with a somewhat sporadic schedule. In the early 2000s, the East Carolina Chapter NRHS became the North Carolina Railway Museum (NCRM). The museum became the parent company and current operator of NHVRy.

NCRM facilities include an outdoor exhibit of historic and heritage railroad equipment dating back to the 1920s, two steam locomotives, more than a half-dozen diesel engines, covered open-air excursion cars for passengers, a working garden railroad (G Scale), and numerous artifacts of North Carolina railroad history. Part of the museum’s educational mission, is to design the rail yard in a way showing visitors what a typical short line railroad looked like in the southern United States in the 1950s.

Today, the Triangle’s Train chugs along its historic track through the piney woods and over a trestle on an hour-long round trip from Bonsal to New Hill and back to the Bonsal depot. In addition to riding the train, now event ride days often include food, drinks, music, and other entertainment for families, children and railroad enthusiasts. One-hundred percent of the ticket fare goes directly into the museum (ticket fare does not include applicable taxes and fees which are additional and do not go to the museum).

Some of NCRM’s future plans include constructing additional buildings to house railroad equipment and artifacts, and to continue to offer educational opportunities to passengers. For more than 30 years, NHVRy volunteers have provided a memorable experience to those visiting the rail yard. As an educational nonprofit, we hope to continue to share our love and knowledge of trains with future generations.

So what are your thoughts about the Triangle Train? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.

This post was created in collaboration with the 919 Blog editorial team for exclusive digital publication on 919Blog.com via The Triangle Blog Network