One of the best times to visit the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is when the Grapevine Vintage Railroad steams into the station, engines chugging and smoke billowing. Everyone nearby stops to take notice as the massive locomotive slowly grinds to a halt, but it is the children’s wide-eyed expressions as they look up towards the towering train that are the best. My own children love to watch the train come into the station, and consider it a special treat to watch the engine spin around on the roundabout for the return trip to Grapevine. They have often wondered aloud where the train comes from and where it is going when it leaves, so it seemed only fitting to buy a ticket and let them experience the view as a passenger aboard the train.
For visitors already in the Fort Worth Stockyards, the Trinity River Run is a one hour round trip that departs Stockyard Station and travels along the Trinity River. Trains also depart from nearby Grapevine and travel along the historic Cotton Belt Route to the Fort Worth Stockyards. As I am always looking for authentic Texas experiences for my kids, we bought our tickets in Grapevine so that we could experience train travel reminiscent of the glory days of the expanding West and arrive in the Historic Stockyards much like travelers would have in the 1800s.
The Railroad is serviced by two vintage locomotives which include "Puffy" the 1896 steam locomotive, which is the oldest continuously operating steam engine in the South, and “Vinny,” a 1953 GP-7 diesel locomotive. The 21 mile trip rolls at a leisurely pace and allows time to explore the Wild West of the Historic Stockyards before returning to Grapevine along the same route.
Special events throughout the year include a Day Out with Thomas, Great Train Robberies, and North Pole Express. Each event is an immersive experience that is great for the entire family. For Wild West enthusiasts, the Great Train Robberies are a perfect way to get a glimpse of the perils of train travel during the wild days of Texas.
When we punched our ticket aboard the Grapevine Vintage Railroads, it was more than just a trip on a train, but a way to experience another era with the authentic bonus of arriving in the Historic Stockyards. As we steamed into the station, engines chugging and smoke billowing, my kids were still wide-eyed and excited as always, but this time they were beaming happily from the windows and waving wildly at the passersby.