CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the last five years, the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society has offered a spring Cherry Blossom Express tour from Huntington to the nation's capital, just in time for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
It's been wildly popular -- selling out well in advance for the last few years.
This year is no exception, so once again, the society is offering a second trip, this one running March 30-April 2.
Travelers enjoy the luxury of a historic railcar experience en route to the yearly festival.
It was first held in 1927. The springtime tradition, though, traces it roots to 1912, when 3,000 cherry trees were given as a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C.
Today, the festival spans 3 1/2 weeks, from March 20 to April 13, and draws an estimated 1.5 million people to the capital city to celebrate the coming of spring and the friendship between the U.S. and the people of Japan.
Although the rail trip is 10 hours each way, society member Chris Lockwood said, there are plenty of beautiful sights to keep patrons occupied through the journey. The train will travel through 65 miles of the New River Gorge, across the Appalachian Mountains and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Washington.
During the trip, members of the society, who volunteer their time, will serve meals to riders.
Once the train arrives in Washington, the package provides three nights' lodging and two dinners at different restaurants in the city. Travelers will be picked up by bus and have a variety of sightseeing activities, such as Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington National Cathedral, included in the tour.
Travelers will have one evening free to explore the Smithsonian museums at their leisure.
The prices for the trip are $869 per person for a double occupancy or $969 for a single. For more information, contact the society at 304-523-0364 or register at www.newrivertrain.com.
Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopk...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.