The New Hope Valley Railway (NHVR) will celebrate Independence Day by honoring military personnel and their families on Sunday, July 1. The NHVR will pay tribute to these great men and women who sacrifice time away from family to protect our country by offering one free child ticket to families with military identification. Families will spend a fun day together riding the Triangle’s Train, touring the North Carolina Railway Museum and participating in free children’s activities during the July 1 Ride Day.
“We want to show our gratitude to the service men and women and their families who give so much to our country, allowing us the peace and safety to enjoy summer here in Bonsal,” said NHVR President Mike MacLean. “Just like our military personnel, trains have played an important role in America, and we invite folks to come out and explore our state’s vibrant railroading history on July 1 as part of their Independence Day celebrations.”
Riders will experience a living history as they ride in passenger cars pulled by a steam or diesel engine, all of which have U.S. military origins. Much of the historic railroad equipment was part of a U. S. military base before finding its home at the New Hope Valley Railway. The steam engine was originally built for the Navy and was used throughout World War II by the New York Shipbuilding Company in a shipping yard in Camden, NJ, where it was utilized in the production of battleships.
All four passenger cars were built from flat rail cars that were used to haul tanks and other heavy equipment based at Camp Lejeune; and the museum exhibit car and gift shop were originally kitchen cars for troop trains during World War II.
A large number of the NHVR’s all-volunteer staff that maintains and operates the trains, equipment and grounds has military backgrounds giving them an understanding and appreciation for the sacrifice, commitment and dedication of military families. Paul Baschon, a seasoned NHVR volunteer, flew F-80 Shooting Star fighter jets with the 8th Fighter Bomber Group in the Korean War. Their primary mission was “cutting the railroads,” or bombing North Korean railroads to cut off the supply line. When not flying, several of the pilots in the group were known to wear striped train engineer caps and sing, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.
These veterans turned dedicated train volunteers are looking forward to celebrating our country’s birthday and honoring military personnel and their families during the NHVR’s next monthly Ride Day on July 1.
In addition to train rides and exploring all the train equipment, Military Family Day will include free activities for children such as the Decorate the Lightnin’ Bug craft table and Get Your Glow On jewelry making. The lightnin’ bug connection dates back to when a group of dedicated train enthusiasts purchased the train track in the early ‘80s. As they moved their train equipment onto the new site and worked late into the night, they were awestruck by the number of fire flies in the area and began referring to it as The Lightnin’ Bug Route.
Diesel train rides depart at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. and steam trains at 12:15 p.m., and 2:45 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 2-12. Military personnel will receive one free child ticket with a military ID, limit one free ticket per family. For more information visit www.TriangleTrain.com or www.FaceBook.com/TriangleTrain.