Sunday, October 24, 2010

All Aboard for The Station Inn

I really like trains. I like riding in them, and I enjoy looking at them. So when I learned of a bed & breakfast in the United States that specifically caters to railfans, I had to find out more! The Station Inn is located in Cresson, Pennsylvania, and for over a decade now innkeeper Tom Davis has been offering folks a spot to sit and watch lots and lots of trains go by.

His Inn sits across the street from one of the main freight routes over the summit of the Applalachian mountain range, taking goods from the American east coast to the mid-west, and beyond, and back.

I paid my first visit to The Station Inn in May 2010, staying for two nights on my way to Mid-Atlanticon in Washington, DC. What a treat! Cresson is a very pleasant small town just west of Altoona, and the area is chock-full of railway history and spots to enjoy train-watching. One of the best spots is from a rocking chair on the Inn's front porch!

Yes, I was really there!

AND I've got a dirty mind. So what? And my prostate is just fine, thanks.

I returned for another two-night stay this past August, with the expectation that after covering all the train-spotting sights in the area I would have gotten the whole business out of my system. How wrong I was - it was such a relaxing spot and everything about The Station Inn experience was so enjoyable that I was already planning an autumn return. The photo below, taken from the nearby Highway 53 bridge, shows the main line in all its October glory with the fall colours at their very best.

It really hasn't been the best of years for me health-wise, so I was very glad to return to the area and actually do a bit of proper walking around on some of the many rail-trails in the region. I highly recommend a visit to the Staple Bend Tunnel, the first railway tunnel ever built in the USA. The line has long since been relocated, but the walk to the tunnel is spectacular and well-signed with a series of interpretive panels that outline the history of railways in the area.

I stayed for three nights in early October, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Can't wait to return in 2011! Must-see train-spotting locations for the visitor (besides the Inn itself) include the Cassandra Crossing pedestrian bridge over the tracks, a nearby level crossing at Carney's Road, the above-mentioned Highway 53 bridge and observation area, and the National Parks Historic sight at Horseshoe Curve. If you want to do some hiking in the area, it's well worth Googling the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and having a look at some of the pathways you can access.
For more train action, have a look at the Station Inn website itself for a preview of the sights to see in Cresson and vicinity as well as information on how to book your own visit. If you're really lucky, you'll be there when they're serving sausage gravy on toast for breakfast! That in itself will make up for any bad weather during your stay!

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