Picks and Pans Review: North America's Most Enjoyable Trains

updated 04/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST

"My heart is warm with the friends I make/ And better friends I'll not be knowing; Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take/No matter where it's going." That poetic sentiment from Edna St. Vincent Millay came in the 1920s, but America's fascination with railroads began with the first steam engine in 1753 and endures today—despite the real woes of Amtrak. Forty-three percent of its service will be eliminated by October if Transportation Secretary Brock Adams gets his way, putting in jeopardy the historic trains between New York and Florida (the Silver Meteor) and New York and Montreal (the Montrealer) and all passenger traffic in six states: Vermont, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Fortunately many of this nation's (and Canada's) most enjoyable train rides are offered by smaller, often thriving lines independent of Amtrak. Their scheduling is erratic; some only operate on summer weekends, for instance. But anybody who wants to escape for a day or two and has been discouraged by rising gas prices, thickening traffic or sterile jumbo-jet trips may find a solution in these picturesque and tradition-laden railroads:

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