Trip east CHI to WAS on the Card

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boxcar479

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Wanting to take the Cardinal from Chi toward Was in January. Not worried about delays pure leisure and just want to enjoy snowy scenery. Where does the trip get bland. I have only traveled the Card to Cvs. Should I go all the way was? Or can I get off where scenery goes bland. I plan on staying ??? A couple of days and heading back home by train or plane. Tia for suggestions TW
 

Thirdrail7

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You're not missing much between CVS-WAS, particularly from MSS-WAS. Additionally, if 50 runs close to two hours late, you'll be in the dark not long after you depart CVS.

That's where I'd get off.
 

bratkinson

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I agree that the scenery east of CVS isn't as nice as it is along the New River, or even the Ohio River, but it's still worth going to see. To me, the various towns the train passes through are just as interesting as mountain or river views. And as Thirdrail7 noted, it'll be dark not long after leaving CVS. So it may be worthwhile riding all the way to WAS and returning on the Cardinal to see WAS-CVS in the daylight.

For what it's worth, I'm contemplating a similar trip on the Cardinal some time after Halloween. Maybe January or February. Depending on hotel rates, I may stay in CVS instead of 'my usual' in WAS or BWI to catch the westbound Cardinal and then returning to New England on the Lakeshore Ltd. I use Google to find 'hotels in xxxx' and then look at the map that pops up to find something within a short walk from the train station when I travel. Light rail and subways expand my hotel choices such as staying in Alexandria when in WAS, or even a hotel near BWI using MARC both ways.
 

dogbert617

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You're not missing much between CVS-WAS, particularly from MSS-WAS. Additionally, if 50 runs close to two hours late, you'll be in the dark not long after you depart CVS.

That's where I'd get off.
I rode #50 going east earlier this year, though not #51 going west and back to Chicago since I had a ride with my family coming back from a wedding in Culpeper, VA. And yes, I'd have to agree that after you pass Charlottesville, the scenery isn't as interesting. Seeing a few of the towns that you pass through like Orange, VA is okay, but it didn't beat the really great scenery that I saw inbetween Charleston, WV and Staunton, VA. Which for sure IMO, has THE best scenery on the route.

Even though I only saw the part from South Shore(Portsmouth), KY to Huntington, WV in daylight, that section also looked interesting as well. I barely rewoke when the train was stopping in Maysville during overnight hours, and only could imagine Maysville and other Ohio River KY towns along the route(i.e. Vanceburg, Augusta, etc) would be nice to see, if not for the fact the Cardinal passes through those towns during overnight hours. :( At least there was daylight by the time we got to Ashland, KY, as that town was interesting to see from the train.

Also a funny coincidence on the side, was that not long ago I found a DVD set of 4 of the America By Rail discs at a thrift store, and bought it! It was narrated by Greg Scholl(sp?), and was released back in the mid-2000s I think? It's old enough, that the one I started to watch on the Cardinal during the winter was filmed back(this blew my mind as to how long ago it was filmed) when Cattlettsburg, KY was still the first/last stop in Kentucky, west of Huntington! Plus it showed some of the Superliner cars using the logo, that was one exterior look older than the one used till the late 2000s, when the railcars spelled out S U P E R L I N E R on their exterior.

I agree that the scenery east of CVS isn't as nice as it is along the New River, or even the Ohio River, but it's still worth going to see. To me, the various towns the train passes through are just as interesting as mountain or river views. And as Thirdrail7 noted, it'll be dark not long after leaving CVS. So it may be worthwhile riding all the way to WAS and returning on the Cardinal to see WAS-CVS in the daylight.

For what it's worth, I'm contemplating a similar trip on the Cardinal some time after Halloween. Maybe January or February. Depending on hotel rates, I may stay in CVS instead of 'my usual' in WAS or BWI to catch the westbound Cardinal and then returning to New England on the Lakeshore Ltd. I use Google to find 'hotels in xxxx' and then look at the map that pops up to find something within a short walk from the train station when I travel. Light rail and subways expand my hotel choices such as staying in Alexandria when in WAS, or even a hotel near BWI using MARC both ways.
I was thinking myself about doing something slightly different(coming from Chicago) one of these days. Which would be taking the Card east from Chicago to either Charleston or Hinton, then ride the Card west back to Chicago on the same day. Somehow as much as some people wonder about Thurmond, I'm not so sure if there'd be enough things to do there to warrant doing a trip there.
 

NW cannonball

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Have you considered? "not worried about delays"
Actually staying at one of the Cardinal's stops and catching the next eastbound? 48 hours later?
I've been thinking of doing that. I have no clue what's there at the many stops but I want to see some of those places.
Any advice from anyone? about places to stay a day in West Virginiay?
on the Cardinal route?
 

Manny T

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The Cardinal has a stop in White Sulphur Springs WVA. I've seen that the Amtrak station is just across the street from the entrance to the Greenbrier Resort. Seems like this would make a nice stop.

Wonder if anyone has ever done this and what it's like.
 

Bob Dylan

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The Cardinal has a stop in White Sulphur Springs WVA. I've seen that the Amtrak station is just across the street from the entrance to the Greenbrier Resort. Seems like this would make a nice stop.

Wonder if anyone has ever done this and what it's like.
It's a Very Expensive, Exclusive Club for the Elite.

Camping out is probably a Better option in this Beautiful Area although I've done neither!( Just been on the Card and New River Train several times)
 

dogbert617

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The Cardinal has a stop in White Sulphur Springs WVA. I've seen that the Amtrak station is just across the street from the entrance to the Greenbrier Resort. Seems like this would make a nice stop.

Wonder if anyone has ever done this and what it's like.
I hadn't, but I have heard from others that if you wanted to step inside Greenbriar and look inside there for a little while, you can. A la the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, per other online boards talking about the Greenbriar, there's some sort of fee($10?) you have to pay before you can go inside. Not sure if there's a dress code you have to abide by, if you were only visiting there briefly during the day and not staying overnight.

And also as far as what you can see of the Greenbriar, you only can see side buildings of the Greenbriar Country Club, but NOT the main building itself from the train windows of the Cardinal. I will have to say that I liked the charming design of White Sulphur Springs' train station for Amtrak, but sadly I couldn't quite pull off a good pic of that before the train departed. Mainly due to the fact I was sitting, on the opposite side of the train. :( For the record the station house at White Sulphur Springs is on the left as you're going east(right going west), and I was sitting on the right side when I rode #50 going east. Didn't ride #51 going west, since I had a ride from Culpeper, VA going back from attending a wedding there, to Chicago.

The Cardinal has a stop in White Sulphur Springs WVA. I've seen that the Amtrak station is just across the street from the entrance to the Greenbrier Resort. Seems like this would make a nice stop.

Wonder if anyone has ever done this and what it's like.
I suspect White Sulphur Springs would be a nice town to stay 2 nights at then ride back, but hadn't further investigated/researched things to do in WSS myself. And for all I know if one is on a budget, it looks like there'd be cheaper places to stay in that town if they wanted to save money, and just pay that one time daytime fee to walk inside Greenbriar to look inside briefly?

Have you considered? "not worried about delays"
Actually staying at one of the Cardinal's stops and catching the next eastbound? 48 hours later?
I've been thinking of doing that. I have no clue what's there at the many stops but I want to see some of those places.
Any advice from anyone? about places to stay a day in West Virginiay?
on the Cardinal route?
I probably will do such a trip, one of these days. Honestly of the places I researched in WV and VA, Charleston, Hinton, and White Sulphur Springs seem like they'd have the most potential, of things one could do near those stations. If you look east to the western part of Virginia, Clifton Forge does have a Chesapeake and Ohio(C&O) Railroad Museum, and Staunton would of course be a great older town to visit, with a lot of places to eat, Mary Baldwin College's campus there, and of course mom and pop businesses. As for Thurmond and Montgomery, not sure if a lot of things remain in either town(especially Thurmond, which is only a flag stop for Cardinal anyway), to warrant a visit there. Montgomery does have a few places to eat, but Thurmond doesn't have a single place to eat(not even a gas station!) left.

Looking west of Charleston, I stopped at Huntington once on a roadtrip, since my family was curious to check out Marshall University's campus. It actually was nice, and also there are a small number of restaurants and bars nearby. Not sure if one should more visit there vs. Charleston, but it'd probably be alright for a brief stop if one wanted to go there via Amtrak. I kinda wish I had spent a tad more time in Huntington to get a little better feel for that town/small city, but what can you do?

So long story short, I'd probably most look into stopping at Huntington, Charleston, Hinton, White Sulphur Springs, or Staunton if you wanted to do some sort of Cardinal train trip and vacation. Maybe also Clifton Forge, if you wanted to visit that C&O railroad train history museum? Hinton also has a bed and breakfast, and even has an outdoor festival the last weekend of every October commemorating the railroad heritage of Hinton(Hinton Railroad Days). Too bad that fest due to new rules imposed by Anderson, no longer has special railroad cars transported into Hinton for the weekend of that railroad fest, per other reports I'd heard about past years of that festival in Hinton.
 

F900ElCapitan

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The Cardinal has a stop in White Sulphur Springs WVA. I've seen that the Amtrak station is just across the street from the entrance to the Greenbrier Resort. Seems like this would make a nice stop.

Wonder if anyone has ever done this and what it's like.
Yes, it’s actually a popular way to go there. Some in Congress even chartered a train to go there (the train that struck a garbage truck and killed the trucks driver). The Greenbrier is a great place to stay, the rooms and service are top notch. I took the family on a road trip and we stayed there for a night and I’ve also driven in for the day a couple of times. Room rates are expensive, but if you watch your booking time (and book early) better rates can be found. Also it is free to visit if you just want to walk around the buildings and property. There is a tour ($) of the formerly secret bunker that was to house Congress during the aftermath of a nuclear war. The tour is totally worth the price of admission as it has a ton of history. My biggest complaint had to be the lack of variety on the restaurants menus, to mean it seemed that most of the menus had the same offerings, no matter which restaurant you were in.

As for the train, I would love to do that and it is totally doable (but not staying on the same train obviously). While we were there I drove over and watched the Cardinal go through. The Greenbriar has a shuttle bus that services the trains passengers which makes transportation very easy. The station was nice and something very cool were the number of tracks still present that are for the use of PV’s (and yes I know Amtrak won’t normally service this anymore:mad:) as the resort was used by the very wealthy back in the day when PV’s were the way to go. There also used to be a track that went all the way into the resort, but it has been removed.
 

dogbert617

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Yes, it’s actually a popular way to go there. Some in Congress even chartered a train to go there (the train that struck a garbage truck and killed the trucks driver). The Greenbrier is a great place to stay, the rooms and service are top notch. I took the family on a road trip and we stayed there for a night and I’ve also driven in for the day a couple of times. Room rates are expensive, but if you watch your booking time (and book early) better rates can be found. Also it is free to visit if you just want to walk around the buildings and property. There is a tour ($) of the formerly secret bunker that was to house Congress during the aftermath of a nuclear war. The tour is totally worth the price of admission as it has a ton of history. My biggest complaint had to be the lack of variety on the restaurants menus, to mean it seemed that most of the menus had the same offerings, no matter which restaurant you were in.

As for the train, I would love to do that and it is totally doable (but not staying on the same train obviously). While we were there I drove over and watched the Cardinal go through. The Greenbriar has a shuttle bus that services the trains passengers which makes transportation very easy. The station was nice and something very cool were the number of tracks still present that are for the use of PV’s (and yes I know Amtrak won’t normally service this anymore:mad:) as the resort was used by the very wealthy back in the day when PV’s were the way to go. There also used to be a track that went all the way into the resort, but it has been removed.
Thanks for correcting me, about whether one has to pay a small fee to enter the Greenbriar resort's main building or not. That's nice to hear they don't charge a fee if you want to do a brief walkthrough inside, unlike say the Grand Hotel on Mackinac(sp?) Island in northern Michigan. And after doing a search, I see there is a dress code, which at least isn't so restrictive that say lol, you have to wear a tuxedo if you're a guy:

https://www.greenbrier.com/GreenbrierResort/media/Dining/Documents/DressCode_9.pdf

And if you're put off by the price of staying at Greenbriar(heck I did some test winter dates, and the cheapest rate I ever saw was $248, sigh!), there are 2 alternate places in WSS which still seem nice per reviews, and would be cheaper. One is at Howard's Creek Inn, and the other is at James Wylie House Bed and Breakfast. There is a third place between Howard's Creek and Greenbriar called Village Inn, but reviews look questionable so I probably wouldn't stay there. I have no idea if taxis or Uber/Lyft exist in WSS, but that'd be a good question to learn the answer to!

And back to Capitan's last post, that is interesting there used to be a special track for transporting private railcars up to the Greenbriar's property! Too bad indeed, it was removed. I wonder if infrequently(despite the stricter rules about those imposed by Richard Anderson today), Amtrak will take private railcars on the Cardinal and pick them up/drop them off, on one of those side tracks right by the WSS station?
 
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tricia

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Anyone considering staying at the Greenbriar might want to google their owner and think about whether you want to give money to a robber baron. He's a billionaire coal magnate, currently the governor of WV, with a stack of legal judgments against him for failing to pay bills and fines for mine safety violations.
 

City of Miami

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If you're thinking still of flying back, at least there's an airport in Cville = CHO. Good flights to Chicago, Charlotte, Philly, Atlanta. It'll cost you about $25 to get there from town by Uber or local taxi. The main difference between the 2 is how much of the fare the driver gets. There are certainly plenty of hotels in cville, they spring up like poison ivy something incredible. Lots of places to eat here.

Just a couple of days ago I got a deal on the Cardinal #50 next month. $256 for a roomette chi-cvs which I consider a deal on that train. All other days I could possibly go were SO. I used AGR points. It's the last week of Oct but weather folks are predicting a warm autumn which should throw things a little late so maybe I'll get a good foliage show. Also it's the week before the fall back time change so I have an extra hour of sunlight if it's running way late. Haven't been on an overnight in a good long while so I'm looking forward to it - esp the new diner not diner.
 

Dakota 400

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Clifton Forge does have a Chesapeake and Ohio(C&O) Railroad Museum, and Staunton would of course be a great older town to visit, with a lot of places to eat, Mary Baldwin College's campus there, and of course mom and pop businesses.
I was not aware that there was a C&O Museum at Clifton Forge. That's an addition to my bucket list. At Staunton, don't forget that the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is there. I have found Presidential Libraries and Museums interesting to visit.
 

dogbert617

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Anyone considering staying at the Greenbriar might want to google their owner and think about whether you want to give money to a robber baron. He's a billionaire coal magnate, currently the governor of WV, with a stack of legal judgments against him for failing to pay bills and fines for mine safety violations.
I'd never heard that before, yikes! And anyway, numerous TripAdvisor reviews all say that there is a hidden resort fee, and also a hidden 'preservation' fee added to the per night bill of your room at Greenbriar. Considering all that, no thanks on me staying there.

If I were to check out Greenbriar briefly during the day(when there's a less restrictive dress code, I linked to that pdf above), I'd stay over at nearby Howard's Creek Inn or nearby James Wylie B&B for the 2 nights in WSS, and save a little money.

I was not aware that there was a C&O Museum at Clifton Forge. That's an addition to my bucket list. At Staunton, don't forget that the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is there. I have found Presidential Libraries and Museums interesting to visit.
I weirdly forgot to mention the Wilson Presidential Library, but yes that is also there! And I visited there on a road trip passing through Staunton, years ago.

Just a couple of days ago I got a deal on the Cardinal #50 next month. $256 for a roomette chi-cvs which I consider a deal on that train. All other days I could possibly go were SO. I used AGR points. It's the last week of Oct but weather folks are predicting a warm autumn which should throw things a little late so maybe I'll get a good foliage show. Also it's the week before the fall back time change so I have an extra hour of sunlight if it's running way late. Haven't been on an overnight in a good long while so I'm looking forward to it - esp the new diner not diner.
$256 is pretty decent, considering I saw a roomette on the Card(between Chicago-Culpeper) was going for $330 on the day I ultimately rode east on this train, and decided against upgrading from coach. At least by when you ride food service will be back, albeit it'll just be contemporary dining. But better than the Card having no food service except for a cafe car(as of today and till end of September), that's for sure!

You're not missing much between CVS-WAS, particularly from MSS-WAS. Additionally, if 50 runs close to two hours late, you'll be in the dark not long after you depart CVS.

That's where I'd get off.
I can't report what the combined route of the Cardinal and Crescent and other Amtrak trains(i.e. the one to/from Roanoke) is like north of Culpeper, VA, but I will say that Culpeper was very nice to visit. Scenery-wise there wasn't much north of Charlottesville that jumped out to me, though passing through the town of Orange, VA was mildly interesting. Of course, that does not beat the segment of the Card that I saw when it comes to scenery, inbetween Staunton and Charleston.

Yes if one wanted a quick scenery train trip from Chicago going east and back, you won't miss much if you end the trip at say either Staunton or Charlottesville. But for sure, mostly due to the fact my cousin's wedding was in Culpeper, I do have to say I did enjoy that town a lot! It has numerous restaurants that are decent, a chocolate place that was really decent(Frenchman's Corner), a really great diner I interestingly enough ate at twice(Frost Cafe), two beer breweries(Beer Hound and Far Gohn, I preferred the latter), and more. Honestly, I see why Washington, DC area people often like to vacation to Culpeper, to spend time here!
 
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boxcar479

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Thanks for all the great advice and suggestions. Too many (great) suggestions aarrrgh! Lol Now it is back to the drawing board. A fall trip before the time change sounds great! Someone even mentioned the Crescent. I did that trip out of CVS in the fall and got to see lots of nice foliage. Like I say it is back to the drawing board for me. The planning stage synchronizing everything hotels,cars,flights or train back home and making a plan all come together, is the best part of the trip. Sitting back w a fully planned working itinerary is even better. Thanks again for all suggestions.
 
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Hubby and I are doing this trip in November. We booked a round trip and will turn at Clifton Forge. Arrival there is scheduled for 12:45pm and leave on the westbound to return at 4:15. There are several restaurants and a brewery within walking distance of the station. I have been monitoring the connection between the two trains for a couple months and no missed connections. If you only want a "down and back" with no hotel overnite, this may be the plan for you.

For us, we leave Chicago on Saturday evening and arrive back in Chicago on Monday morning. Sweet trip in a sleeper what with the meals (such as they are - nobody knows for sure yet what will happen Oct.1).
 
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tricia

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Anyone considering staying at the Greenbriar might want to google their owner and think about whether you want to give money to a robber baron. He's a billionaire coal magnate, currently the governor of WV, with a stack of legal judgments against him for failing to pay bills and fines for mine safety violations.
For anyone interested, here's a link to a story posted this week by WV reporter Ken Ward (who's a national treasure, IMHO):

Welcome to The Greenbrier, the governor-owned luxury resort filled with conflicts of interest

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/freepass/welcome-to-the-greenbrier-the-governor-owned-luxury-resort-filled/article_710d8e70-7e8d-5f87-9a67-bbbc927574d8.html
 
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