Congratulations to those of you who registered early enough to score tickets to the Encounter Wednesday night special activity. It is now sold out, so if you did not get your registration in early enough you will have to sit this one out. You may recall that this was originally scheduled to be a crab-dinner cruise on the Christina River in Wilmington. Unfortunately the Riverboat business is up for sale and we needed more of a sure thing. So on Wednesday night, August 10, per Brandywine region tradition, a “dinner on the train” event has been arranged on the historic Wilmington & Western Railroad. Buses leave from the hotel at 5pm for the short ride to the Greenbank road station, from which the train departs. Sign up soon, because capacity is limited to the first 80 persons who register for Encounter and request the dinner train event.
The W&W was chartered in 1867 to provide local rail service to the Port of Wilmington, and opened for freight and passenger service in 1872. In 1877 it changed hands and became the Delaware Western Railroad, which was highly profitable moving Kaolin Clay, vulcanized fiber materials, snuff, iron and coal to and from the many mills that lined the route. In the 1880s, the line was purchased by the Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad (B&P), a subsidiary of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O). The line became known as the “Landenberg Branch” by the B&O and was, for a time, its most profitable branch line. In the mid-1960s, Historic Red Clay Valley Inc. was formed and began leasing the tracks from the B&O on weekends beginning in 1966, operating steam-powered tourist trains between Greenbank Station and Mt. Cuba. In the mid-1970s, the line’s new owner, The Chessie System, filed for abandonment of the Landenberg Branch. With the line due to be demolished, fundraising began, and by August of 1982, the remaining 10.2 miles of the Landenberg Branch were once again in use as the Wilmington & Western Railroad.
The train consists of two dining cars and one parlor car, pulled by Engine No. 114, which was built in 1940 by the Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC) of General Motors for the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LV). After many years on the LV, it was sold to the Maryland Port Authority and worked as a dock switcher for a number of years in Pocomoke City, Md. In 1974, No. 114 was moved to the Ocean City Western Railroad in Ocean City, Md., where it worked briefly in tourist service, until the railroad closed in the late 1970s. In 1993, after an extensive restoration, it began its new service in the Red Clay Valley.
Passengers will board the train at 5:30 for the two hour tour from Greenbank Road station to Ashland and back. Appetizers and beverages will be served prior to the 6:00 departure from the station. Passengers will be seated in one of the two dining cars for the trip, during which the train will stop at the Mount Cuba station. At that time passengers will proceed to the parlor car, where a sumptuous buffet dinner including chicken, roast beef, stuffed shells, two vegetables, salad, rolls and dessert await them. After bringing their dinner back to their tables, the tour will continue while the passengers dine.
Buses will return the passengers to the Sheraton hotel, arriving around 9:00 pm.
Click here to see a YouTube short movie.