Magazine article Sunset

Riding the Rails in Idaho

Magazine article Sunset

Riding the Rails in Idaho

Article excerpt

North of Boise, climb aboard the classic railcars of the Thunder Mountain Line

* The train hadn't been under way five minutes before my husband dropped off to sleep. He wasn't the only one; the rhythmic rocking on the rails sent other riders to dreamland. But a nap would mean missing the scenery, and that's what I'd come for.

Now in its third season, Idaho Historical Railroad's Thunder Mountain Line makes an ideal centerpiece for an outing in southwestern Idaho. The train--made up of two engines and cars from the 1940s and 1950s--starts in and returns to cascade, about 70 miles north of Boise on State 55. The Thunder Mountain Line heads south for a scenic 33-mile round trip, which lasts 2 1/2 hours.

The train crosses broad meadowlands before hugging the North Fork of the Payette River first on one side of the tracks, then on the other. En route the train passes beneath the picturesque Rainbow Bridge and through what's said to be the world's shortest railroad tunnel--just 35 feet long--which was blasted into solid granite. "Folks, this car is 50 feet longer than the tunnel," chief of operations Jim Mayfield tells passengers. …

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