Originally published in the Around Town section of Berks County Living’s March 2016 issue.
What better way is there to welcome spring than on a train ride through the Secret Valley? Join Peter Cottontail on a ride through the sheltered valley between the Manatawny and Ironstone Creeks on the Colebrookdale Railroad’s Easter Bunny Train.
History Brought to Life
Regularly scheduled passenger service returned to the Colebrookdale Railroad for the first time in 60 years in October of 2014. The Civil War-era rail line was completed by a workforce of soldiers who had returned home from the war during a time when rail travel was at its peak – beginning service just a few months after the Transcontinental Railroad was completed. The line was originally proposed in 1865 to serve the thriving iron ore industry along the Manatawny Creek and connects the oldest iron-making sites in North America. When operation commenced in 1869 the line was leased by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. Over the years as short line railroad became less profitable, the line went out of service. Ownership changed hands several times until 2013 when it was conveyed to the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust.
All Aboard with Peter Cottontail
This year the second annual Easter Bunny Trains will take passengers the full length of the Colebrookdale line. Trains will depart from the Secret Valley Heritage Area and travel 8.6 miles from downtown Boyertown to Pottstown’s Memorial Park and back. The Easter Bunny will join passengers for the ride, and will personally bring a gift to every child on board. All riders will have the opportunity for complimentary photos with him. The ride is open to girls and boys of all ages, and children under eight years of age can even participate in an Easter egg hunt right on board the train!
The Easter Bunny Trains will operate on March 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27, running four times per day. Rides typically last about two hours. The café and parlor cars will be offering seasonal fare a la carte, and some trains will also be featuring live music.
Train Rides for Everyone
The Preservation Trust works in close partnership with local businesses to create excursions for everyone. “It’s part of our mission to strengthen our local economy and highlight the things about our region that make us unique,” said Nathan Guest, Executive Director of the Colebrookdale Preservation Trust. “Our local businesses are critical components of what distinguishes us from everywhere else and therefore are exceedingly important in developing a destination to which folks from everywhere will want to come.”
Upcoming excursions include the Mudball Express, where passengers can throw balls of mud packed with native wildflower seeds from the train to help bring the woods in the valley back to life after a long winter. Other featured rides for the spring include a Wine and Cheese Tasting Train, Brewery Trains and a special Mother’s Day Tea Train. Tickets for the Easter Bunny Train and all other featured excursions can be purchased online at ColebrookdaleRailroad.com. All proceeds will go toward the restoration and operation of the historic train.
History for Hire Colebrookdale is not only a heritage tourist railroad, local businesses can also use the train as an active freight utility line.
Green Rails A typical freight train can move one ton of freight 450 miles on one gallon of fuel, making it nearly four times more efficient than highway transportation.