RVing the Rails – Excursion Trains in New Jersey 141

Many times camping trips involve exploring new territory and discovering enticing attractions along the way. Passenger tour trains have that magnetic appeal for many RVers, providing a novel way to see hidden countryside not normally viewed from the road. Railroad passengers learn about local history, culture and the many colorful characters from the communities visited. Camping World wants to make sure you don’t miss the departing whistle, so we have created a series entitled RVing the Rails. You will find the most popular excursion trains to ride in each state, complete with any specialty trains they might offer.

Steam Locomotive on the tracks
Photo Credit: Skeeze on Unsplash

Today we will explore the most popular trains in New Jersey:

Delaware River Railroad Excursions

Delaware River steam train on tracks
Photo Credit: Delaware River Railroad

Begun as a freight line between Phillipsburg and Carpentersville, the Delaware River Railroad has always taken the scenic route, following its namesake river first as the New York Susquehanna & Western, and later joining with the Black River System in 2004.

This all-volunteer organization runs the steam excursion trains and has renovated much of its equipment, including nine coaches. Today riders enjoy the River Train, along with several specialty excursions along the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Railway and Locomotive Types

The Delaware River Railroad operates steam locomotives on a standard gauge track, pulling renovated enclosed coaches for customer comfort on its rides.

Seating Options

All seating on the train is open, although reservations can be made in advance. Tickets must be picked up on the day of travel.

Riding Options

Delaware River steam train on tracks
Photo Credit: Delaware River Railroad

The Delaware River Railroad offers two additional excursions that can be added to their daily River Train:

  • Mine Tour – Get off the train at the Susquehanna Mine to learn about the history of mining in the region. Then take a chance at uncovering your own gems and minerals when you pan for gold!
  • Corn Maze – Take the train to the Snyder Farm, where a giant corn maze awaits. Bring a picnic lunch if you like, and catch any of the afternoon trains back to the depot after exploring this life-sized puzzle.

Specialty Trains

Thomas the Tank Engine on Delaware River Railroad
Photo Credit: Delaware River Railroad

Reservations are suggested for all specialty trains, as they tend to sell out.

  • Winery Train – Relish a luxurious ride along the Delaware River to the Villa Milagro Winery, where creating great wines is showcased and tasting them is thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Dino Days – Take the kids on a train ride where dinosaurs are still king! The Dino Show, where resident paleontologists teach about the critters from the Jurassic Era, will keep everyone entertained with fossils, games and coloring activities.
  • Day Out With Thomas – Ride on the ”Thomas The Tank Engine” for a trip where children can explore the Imagination Station, with obstacles courses and entertaining activities that appeal to the youngsters in your group.
  • Polar Express – Children of all ages will love a train ride filled with characters from the book “Polar Express,” as they drink cocoa and eat cookies while waiting for Santa. Each child can tell St. Nick about their Christmas wishes and receive a silver bell, just like in the storybook.

Length of Season

The Delaware River Railroad is open year-round with daily departures. Specialty trains are scattered throughout the calendar, so check with the train to select the excursion that best fits your schedule.

Cape May Seashore Lines

Cape May Seashore Lines Diesel Engine
Photo Credit: smallbones in Public Domain

Ride the original rails of the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads to the shores of New Jersey. Today’s Cape May Seashore Lines run on 15 miles of track that once carried dolomite to the large magnesite plant, and eventually transported passengers for a short time, before dependence on trains waned.

Fortunately, one man dreamed of creating an excursion line to the Jersey shore and he purchased the abandoned tracks. Now the Seashore Lines run from Richland to Tuckahoe, bringing tourists and locals alike to southern New Jersey.

Railway and Locomotive Types

The railroad runs diesel engines and has several refurbished passenger coaches on a standard gauge track. They maintain a steel water tank built in 1922 and a depot in Tuckahoe Village that was built in 1897.

Seating Options

Tuckahoe Train Depot of Cape May Seashore Lines
Photo Credit: smallbones in Public Domain

There are no assigned seats on the Seashore Lines. Passengers can select their seats for both legs of the 30-mile round trip ride in enclosed coach cars.

Riding Options

The railroad runs regular excursion trains interspersed with freight trains. There are no one-way tickets, but the rail line offers special motor car trains in Cape May on designated weekends. Be sure to check their schedule for specific times and dates.

Specialty Trains

Cape May Seashore Lines Diesel Engine in the evening
Photo Credit: CapeMaySeashoreLines.org
  • Tuckahoe Transportation Heritage Festival – Enjoy an entire day dedicated to trains and their history, with excursion rides, motor car transportation, and historical equipment displays.
  • Santa Express – Visit Santa and his elves on a magical train ride, where children can tell St. Nick their Christmas wishes and kids young and old can enjoy all of the holiday festivities.

Length of Season

The Cape May Seashore Lines run year-round, with excursion train departures on weekends and specialty trains scheduled on specific dates. Contact the railroad for more information.

Black River & Western Railroad

Black River and Western Railroad Steam Engine
Photo Credit: BlackRiverRailroad.com

Constructed in 1854, the Pennsylvania Railroad was tasked with the job of hauling freight for local businesses. But with the advent of the automobile and trucks, rail lines began to disappear.

Fortunately, a group of friends purchased the tracks between Three Bridges and Lambertville in the 1960s, hoping to resuscitate the dying railroad and preserve its history for generations to come. Today, steam locomotives pull excursion trains and freight trains through north-central New Jersey on the Black River & Western Railroad.

Railway and Locomotive Types

The Black River & Western pulls rolling stock with steam and diesel locomotives on standard gauge track. They also have converted a baggage car into a stationary railroad museum at the Ringoes Station.

Seating Options

Farmstead Cookout at Black River Railroad
Photo Credit: BlackRiverRailroad.com

There is open seating on all trains. Passengers can sit where they choose on the 1920s restored coaches. All tickets are round trip.

Riding Options

In addition to their specialty trains, Black River & Western Railroad offers two scheduled departures every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day:

  • Summer Excursions – Their regular excursion train takes passengers from Flemington to Ringoes three times daily on Saturdays and Sundays, and from Ringoes to Flemington four times daily on the same days. Tickets are for round trip rides, so be sure you depart from the proper station!
  • Bowne Station Local – A 60 minute round trip from Ringoes to Bowne Station and back gives passengers an opportunity to disembark and explore the historic site of Bowne Station.

Specialty Trains

Black River and Western Railroad Steam Engine
Photo Credit: 0484enwiki (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • Farmstead Cookout – Take the train to Farmstead of Ringoes for a picnic lunch on the farm, complete with lawn games and relaxation. Then take the train back whenever you are ready!
  • WoodsEdge Express – Ride the train, then a covered wagon to arrive at WoodsEdge Farm, where passengers will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with alpacas and yak.
  • Comedy Night – Bring your own food and wine and hop the train to an outdoor stage performance area at Bowne Station, where comedians and entertainers provide the evening’s main show.
  • Firefly Special – Catch an evening train to the Grove at Bowne Station for s’mores cupcakes and beverages, while looking for the natural “night lights” that the train is named for!
  • North Pole Express – This is the only train that offers Coach and Private Class tickets. Both ticketing levels enjoy visits with Santa and his elves, face painting, and photo opportunities, along with cocoa and cookies. Private Class riders get to skip the boarding line and ride in a coach with their own private reserved table.

Length of Season

The railroad is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, with specialty trains running on specific dates through December. Check the train schedule for departure times and dates.


Join the thousands of RVers that have a love affair with trains and ride the rails on your next camping trip. Check out the other excursion trains available on a state-by-state basis in our series, RVing the Rails.

Excursion trains in New Jersey

Shelley Dennis Contributor
Shelley Dennis is a travel photographer and writer who threw caution to the wind and gave up most of her belongings to travel the country in an RV. Her trusty sidekick for this lifetime adventure is her Golden Retriever, Sully. You can find them both at www.PhotoTrippingAmerica.com

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