Train passengers visiting Urbana Saturday and Sunday

‘Spirit of Urbana’ pulls into Urbana Depot on Saturday and Sunday

Staff report

The “Spirit of Urbana” is scheduled to pull into the train station at the Depot Coffee House on Miami Street about noon Saturday and Sunday so travelers who boarded a vintage train in Washington Court House can have a beverage or a bite to eat at the Depot and/or take a shuttle to Monument Square where they can explore downtown Urbana shops and eateries. Or they can investigate the NX 23 Caboose owned by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance and located at the Depot. The caboose will be open for viewing during the two-hour stopover.

The train trip is one of the excursions offered by the new Ohio Rail Experience, based in Lebanon. Passengers can “relive the golden age of rail travel” on excursions to Urbana, Lima, Springfield, Greenfield, Cincinnati, Reading and Washington Court House.

From 170 to 240 passengers are expected on this weekend’s trips to Urbana. The trip was coordinated through the Champaign County Visitors Bureau. Additional trips to Urbana with a three- to four-hour stay are being discussed.

“If this trip is well received, I’m sure we will be able to coordinate future trips with longer visiting hours,” states Sandy Gonzalez, Visitors Bureau board member, in a news release. “We are excited to be part of this venture and look forward to a great weekend in Urbana. We encourage everyone to come out and welcome the train and the visitors from Washington Court House.”

Travel in style

The vintage rail cars are pulled up to 25 mph by a historic diesel electric locomotive. Passengers can ride in open-window coaches from the 1930s and, for a higher fare, in climate-controlled deluxe coaches from the 1940s and 1950s. A tavern car offers a small selection of food and drink.

“In our part of the country, passenger trains are slipping further into the history books and that’s a shame,” states General Manager Will Gawin in a news release. “It can be difficult to properly interpret this kind of history in a static museum. Trains are monstrous, loud and kinetic. They are something that needs to be experienced firsthand to be remembered.”

The Ohio Rail Experience is a project of Cincinnati Scenic Railway, a 501c3 nonprofit and the operator of the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad in Lebanon. Trains travel on parts of the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Detroit Toledo & Ironton Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

For more information, visit

‘Spirit of Urbana’ pulls into Urbana Depot on Saturday and Sunday

Staff report