Millions of people come to Branson, Missouri, each year to take in the exciting shows and attractions, the one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants, and the beauty of the Ozark Mountains. However, the weather can sometimes put a damper on even the most meticulously planned vacation. However, what if you could find something to do that is fun no matter what’s going on outside? That’s where the Branson Scenic Railway comes in!
The railroad has long been a part of Branson’s history. Rail service originally came to the Ozarks with the construction of the White River Railway between 1903 and 1905. This route crosses the White River at Lake Taneycomo and takes a shortcut through the Ozark Mountains. Construction of the White River Route was not easy, given the wild and rugged Ozarks terrain. Crews worked nonstop to build tunnels through the ancient mountains and to construct trestles across the vast valleys. Once the route was finished, it served the purpose of connecting the people who lived in the Ozarks to the rest of the world. Suddenly, they had access to some of the same goods and services as their more developed counterparts in other areas. The railroad also brought what would soon become the area’s most valuable import: tourists.
Today, the line is operated by the Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad. Branson Scenic Railway was formed in 1993 and began leasing the route from the Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad to run excursions on the rails from March until December. The railroad’s rich history permeates each trip on the Branson Scenic Railway from beginning to end. You’ll start your journey at the historic 1905 train depot in scenic downtown Branson where you’ll be greeted by the friendly depot staff. This is the perfect place to step in out of the weather and pick up any souvenirs you might need to commemorate your trip. You won’t even have to worry about the weather as you wait to board the train. The beautiful, covered platform will protect you from the worst of the elements. The conductor will welcome you and give you a few guidelines for your trip and, before you know it, you’ll be boarding the train.
Seating is open on the train and you can explore the train throughout your journey. Each of the unique, vintage cars were built between the 1930’s and the 1950’s, and they have all been restored to their former glory. You’ll want to check them all out before finding a seat. A few of the cars have second-level seating under a glass dome where you’ll have an unobstructed view of the magnificent Ozarks scenery as it passes by.
The departing trip is narrated by one of the Branson Scenic Railway’s knowledgeable conductors who will give you and your fellow passengers lots of interesting facts about the Ozarks and the sights you’ll see from the train. You’ll see abandoned towns and go through tunnels and across train trestles while enjoying a side of the Ozarks you would never be able to see from an automobile. Northbound trips take you from the Branson depot to Galena, Missouri, and southbound trips travel from Branson to the Barren Fork Trestle in Arkansas. The view from the train is spectacular and, no matter what the weather is outside, the peaceful atmosphere and tranquil surroundings are just what you need to relax away from Branson’s bright lights and fast-paced entertainment.
On Saturday evenings, guests can enjoy a candlelit dinner on the train. Guests will have a choice of main entrees-rotisserie chicken, baked fish, or prime rib-and each meal is served with roasted potatoes, vegetables, Caesar salad, and black and white cake for dessert. There is also a delicious vegetarian option for those who don’t eat meat. Space on the dinner train is limited, so be sure to book your tickets ahead of time for this special event.
For a relaxing trip back in time through the pristine splendor of the Ozarks, look no further than the Branson Scenic Railway. No matter what kind of weather it is outside, your family is sure to have a blast!