My ninth night on the road was spent in a motel in Mansfield. I was still run down after the backpacking trip, and I felt a night indoors, with a bed and free Wi-Fi, might help recharge me.
It didn’t. I didn’t sleep well and felt sluggish the next day. And I still had driving to do, nearly two and a half hours of it to Bradford. Wellsboro, one of my favorite towns in Pennsylvania, is along the way, a half hour from Mansfield. So I spent the day on odd tasks – getting fuel for the camp stove, walking around downtown Wellsboro, stopping in a bookstore – and taking a train ride.
I’ve known of the Tioga Central Railroad ever since I first visited the Pine Creek valley and “grand canyon” in 2009. The Pine Creek Rail Trail has its northern terminus in Wellsboro Junction, three miles north of Wellsboro, and across PA 287 is the Tioga Central. The train runs north near that highway to Hammond Lake, and on some occasions into New York state. On this Saturday afternoon the turnaround was at Hammond Lake.
Although I nodded off for a minute on the trip to Hammond Lake, I enjoyed seeing the countryside go by. Tioga County is at the edge of the Endless Mountain region of Pennsylvania, and the scenery was hills, farms, small homes and dirt roads and streams and ponds. State Game Lands 313, “The Muck“, is less than a half mile from the railroad’s southern end, and we crossed the swamp.
On the return trip the conductor asked how I was enjoying the ride. I said I was having fun but I wondered how my photos would come out, since I was shooting through a window. He suggested I stand in the vestibule for the return trip and photograph the countryside through an open door. I was thrilled, and I took 50 photos as the countryside rolled past. Not all of them were of the countryside; the dining car was set up for that evening’s dinner trip, and as the Tioga Central’s cars are modeled on those of the New York Central, I felt transported back to one of my favorite films, North By Northwest.
The whole trip took ninety minutes, and I enjoyed every moment of it. The Tioga Central gave me the recharge I needed. I picked up dinner at Pag-Omar Farm Market, located across PA 287 at the entrance to the Pine Creek Rail Trail, and headed towards my night stop, a campground at the lake I’d just gone to by train.