When skiers took to the slopes in the 1930′s and 1940′s, they traveled by ski train. Sadly, the rise of our automobile society in the 1950′s paralleled a similar demise in ski trains. However, almost fifty years later, the pendulum is swinging back. Over the past few years, each winter season has seen an introduction of new ski trains and expanded services on existing trains, and the numbers show that they are well traveled.
We left Penn Station on a sunny, cold January afternoon, after our skis were stowed onboard. The Ethan Allen is a comfortable train, with coach and business classes and a selection of regional foods and beverages in the cafe. The ambience onboard is lively, since many of the travelers are on their way to ski, or engage in other winter sports activitives.
For most of the trip, the Ethan Allen follows the route of the Amtrak Adirondack, traveling along the east bank of the Hudson River. This path was the route of such legendary trains as the Empire State Express and the 20th Century Limited, and though a traveler knows that just beyond the trees there are towns and man-made structures, it is difficult to reconcile that with the nineteenth century views seen by that same traveler. When we passed Bannerman Castle, on an island in the Hudson, the sense of having time traveled was particularly strong.
At Glens Falls, the train heads east into Vermont’s Champlain Valley, a broad valley of rolling hills between New York State and the Green Mountains. The train’s first stop is Fair Haven, Vermont. One of the earliest developers of this town was Congressman Matthew Lyon, a colorful character whose imprisonment under the Alien and Sedition Act lead to repeal of that unconstitutional law. Lyon was reelected to Congress while in prison and took his seat just in time to cast the tie breaking vote what made Thomas Jefferson, rather than Aaron Burr, president.
An hour after entering Vermont, we arrived at the Rutland train station. Rutland, known in the nineteenth century as the “Marble City” has a revived downtown area, with a particularly good selection of restaurants. If you have the opportunity to spend some time in Rutland, visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. This museum displays all of Rockwell’s magazine covers, and ads, posters, portraits and other Rockwell illustrations.
From Rutland, we took the one hour shuttle ride to Killington, arriving around 9:15 pm, relaxed and anticipating an enjoyable few days of skiing before our return trip. Killington currently has a Snowblind special, whereby you can save up to 30% off lodging and 25% off lift tickets. If you are flexibile in terms of where you stay, book online and once your reservation is paid for your find out where you lodging is. That is a great way to get these deep discounts. Check it out and enjoy the snow!