Scenic Train Rides in Missouri
The Branson Scenic Railway operates one of the most popular scenic train rides in Missouri that departs from the original 1905 Branson depot. The Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad offers up scenic train rides aboard early 20th century coaches and locomotive cab rides.
Enjoy miniature train rides and then get up close to one of the largest steam locomotives ever built, Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy # 4006, on display at the St Louis Museum of Transportation along with Frisco 4-8-2 No.1522. Miniature train rides for all ages can also be found on the Magic City Line in Moberly, on the Silver Dollar Line Steam Train and the Wabash Frisco & Pacific Railroad.
Take a romantic 3 hour vintage train ride while you sit back and relax with a full course gourmet diner aboard the Columbia Star Dinner Train.
Currently, over 50 steam locomotives are listed in Missouri. Over a dozen steam locomotives are on display at the St Louis Museum of Transportation including the Norfolk & Western Railway 2-8-8-2, No. 2156. The only operating steam locomotives in Missouri are currently all replica models. The Central Illinois Public Service Co. 2-4-2 No. 5 was under repair, as of 2012, at St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway in Jackson. The railway also operates the region's only full size scenic passenger excursion train. The Railroad Historical Museum in Springfield displays the restored St. Louis - San Francisco Railroad 4-8-4 No. 4524.
Did you know?
The Pacific Railroad was Missouri's first chartered railroad in 1849. After becoming the Missouri Pacific Railroad, St Louis became the anchor for the first Transcontinental Railroad. Construction began on July, 4, 1851 and reached Kansas City in 1865. During the early years of American railroading history, Missouri was home to the headquarters of more Class 1 railroads than any other state except Illinois and the first Railway Post Office ran on the Burlington Route's predecessor, the Hannibal & St Joseph, in 1862. The Fred Harvey Co., that originally began severing meals in Santa Fe Railway stations and then went on to add service on trains, was headquartered in the Kansas City Union Station until the 1930's.
Missouri has over 4000 route miles in use today. Amtrak's Missouri River Runner travels daily between St. Louis and Kansas City, MO and uses the Union Pacific owned route today. Additional Amtrak routes include the Southwest Chief, the Missouri Mule and the Texas Eagle, making 5 daily round trips to Chicago and two state-supported round trips to Kansas City.
Take a ride on the Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad's 5 mile, 45 minute round trip scenic train ride aboard 1920's era passenger coaches or an open-air excursion car, behind a 1950's diesel locomotive south from Belton, Missouri. Locomotive cab rides with the engineer and caboose rides are also available. Equipment displays include freight cars, a Club Car, an instruction car, maintenance-of-way equipment, and two static display steam locomotives. Directions
Photo by Jake Branson
The Branson Scenic Railway operates a 40 mile round trip scenic train ride through the picturesque Ozark foothills and the southwest Missouri wilderness. Your 1 hour 45 minute trip will take you through areas accessible only by rail, passing over several bridges, trestles and through tunnels. Narration describes landmarks, abandoned towns and wildlife. Departure of Missouri's Branson Scenic Railway is from the original 1905 White River Railway Branson depot. The BSR also operates a dinner train. Directions
The Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train operates a 20-minute steam train ride through the Ozark countryside. Some zany train robbers briefly interrupt your ride, so hold on to your hat and your wallet! Directions
The Columbia Star Dinner Train offers year round evening dinner train trips departing Friday and Saturday nights at 7PM with a Sunday Brunch train departing at 11:30 AM. Enjoy gourmet dining on board beautifully appointed vintage 1930's and 40's passenger cars pulled by 1950's streamlined passenger locomotives for a relaxing 2 1/2 to 3 hour journey. Directions
Update: The dinner train made its last run in October 2014. The equipment set for the Columbia Star Dinner Train has moved to a new owner, the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad.
The Wabash Frisco & Pacific Railway operates a two mile round trip 1-foot gauge miniature steam railway lasting about 30 minutes that travels along the scenic Meramec River.The railroad is open every Sunday, May through October rain or shine. Directions
This carefully restored 1879 two-story Chicago& Alton Railroad depot has two floors with seven rooms, including the station master's residence. Displays include 2 original restored Railway Express baggage carts with camel-backed top trunks, old railroad tools and equipment. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln's funeral car was moved from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois on the Chicago & Alton Railroad.
The St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway operates the region's only full size scenic excursion passenger train. Relax in a coach car pulled by a 1950 Pennsylvania Railroad diesel, #5898. The train runs to Gordonville and then back to the Jackson depot in reverse.Directions
Opened in 2005, the KC Rail Experience is located in the historic Union Station. This is a hands-on journey through railroading history through personal histories, a collection of vintage rail cars and artifacts. Exhibits include a SD40-2 simulator donated by BSNF. Notable rolling stock include the only cab-unit diesel in Kansas City Southern's historic EMD F7-A diesel engine, the Southern Belle, an ex-Milwaukee Road dining car No. 170, and the Going-to-the-Sun Mountain Observation Car - Built in 1950 for the Great Northern's Empire Builder Chicago-to-Seattle streamliner. Kansas City's favorite place for the holidays, Union Station, welcomes Santa Claus aboard the Kansas City Southern's Holiday Express!
The great model train display that Kansas City has come to know during the holidays is now available year round! Watch model trains of every size as they traverse one of the largest model railroad displays in the country from tiny N-scale model trains up to the big G-scale trains. Get an engineer's eye view of the rails in a BNSF locomotive simulator.Directions
The Magic City Line transports passengers of all ages on a great adventure. Miniature train ride regularly leaves the Lions Station for a one plus mile trip through Rothwell Park. The train passes some wooded areas and has views of gardens planted along the tracks. There are special seats available that make riding comfortable for the elderly and disabled. Directions
Artifacts, equipment, photos, paintings and much more from the St. Louis San-Francisco Railroad along with other railroads are displayed in a locomotive, a passenger car and a caboose. There are many hands on things for the kids to do. Videos of steam and diesel trains, model train layout. Rolling stock displays include the Frisco locomotive, No. 4524, a commuter car and caboose. Open Saturdays, 2-4pm.
The St. Louis Museum of Transportation has more than 70 locomotives of steam, diesel and electric power. Covering 150 acres, the museum also houses airplanes, cars and riverboats. The museum features miles of switching and exhibition track and includes 10 buildings. Climb into the cabs of some of the 30 steam locomotives on the site, that include one of the 8 remaining largest steam locomotives ever made, the Union Pacific Big Boy #4006. The MOT is home to one of the six surviving SLSF "Mountains", the St. Louis-San Francisco ("Frisco") 4-8-2 #1522, that was retired in 2002 do to high insurance and operating costs. St. Louis Museum of Transportation displays one of the oldest surviving steam locomotives in America., the Boston & Providence Railroad “Daniel Nason”. The 4-4-0 steam locomotive was also displayed at the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago and the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.
Some rare and unusual memorabilia include the world's largest tank car, a 1955 Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific EMD Aerotrain, and a cast iron turntable. A minuature train and a restored street car operate April through October.
The museum is open year round, operating daily during the summer and Tuesday though Sunday the remainder of the year. Guided tours are also available on days of operation according to season and on Sundays. Directions