By Bette Reynolds
Photo by Kathy Cloutier
This summer plan to hop on board all three Green Mountain Railroad excursion trains. They have added to their Green Mountain Flyer schedule (which covers Bellows Falls and Chester) the new White River Flyer, running from White River Junction to Norwich’s Mountshire Museum. A third train, The Champlain Valley Flyer, runs from Burlington to Shelburne. All provide wonderful scenic outings with a historical flair perfect for the whole family.
At the Green Mountain Flyer is a friendly, knowledgeable conductor, Bruce Cloutier, a former grade school teacher and Keene State College instructor. He began training, pardon the pun, with the Green Mountain Railroad in 1989 and began working full-time, forty hours a week in 2001. Bruce’s enthusiasm and expertise in his craft will immediately put any first time travelers completely at ease.
When you board the Green Mountain Flyer, you will be riding in fully restored 1930’s passenger coaches pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive. The antique coaches feature windows that open for Vermont fresh air and breathtaking scenery. The many scenic treats on the round trip ride between Bellows Falls and Chester include the Connecticut and Williams Rivers, and views of two covered bridges, the Lower Bartonsville and the Worrel bridges, respectively.
The Chester Depot Station was built in 1872 and was restored in the 1980’s. A “must do” on your outing is to stop and browse at the Depot Square Gift Shop at the train station in Bellows Falls. They offer everything from Vermont state welcome tiles to train Christmas tree ornaments.The Depot Station also has display and exhibits as well as historic photos, and of particular interest, two prints on loan to the shop: one is of the Square in Bellows Falls at Christmas, circa late 1930, and the other is of a steam engine being loaded with coal.
To add some movie trivia, the Green Mountain Railroad has been the location for several popular movies. In 1998, the movie “The Cider House Rules”, in which Michael Caine won a supporting actor Oscar in 1999, for portraying a doctor in an orphanage, while struggling with an ether addiction. A Jim Carrey film, “Me, Myself and Irene,” with his then girlfriend Renee Zellweger, had a few scenes with the railroad freight cars in South Burlington. The late, great, Oscar-winning actor James Coburn’s last film “American Gun” was partially filmed at the Chester Depot with a WWII backdrop.
So when in Vermont, wherever you are, you will be close to one of the three Green Mountain Railroad excursion trains. Treat yourself and the whole family to a wonderful way to experience Vermont. Hop on board!