Time travel may still be a work of science fiction in other parts of the world, but in Grapevine, Texas, two legendary Texans take guests along for a wild journey back in time — and they do it every week. Puffy, an 1896 steam engine, and Vinny, a 1953 diesel engine, are the two historic locomotives that make their home at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Each week the engines attach to a string of 1920s Victorian coaches to transport guests along the Historic Cotton Belt Route for an experience that feels like taking a journey through time.
“One of my favorite things about the excursion train is the authentic 1896 steam locomotive,” said Brian Gentry, train sales manager for the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. “It’s a special sight to see. I also enjoy meeting the many wonderful passengers that travel from all over the world to experience the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.”
The railroad operates on a seasonal schedule where passengers board at the Grapevine station and take their seats in either First ($26) or Touring ($18) class for a journey along what was once known as the Tarantula Train route. The route takes guests to the Fort Worth Stockyards and then continues along the Trinity River and finally back to the station in Grapevine.
Along with a series of special journeys, including a Thomas the Tank Engine, a wine and jazz experience with local musicians and wines, and a North Pole Express experience, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad also offers customized experiences for groups. The trains are available for private charter, where the railroad staff will help turn the coaches into a nontraditional meeting venue for team building, networking or just unwinding together as a group.
The climate-controlled coaches are suitable for memorable group outings, and the team at the railroad will help meeting planners transform the experience into anything from a Wild West event with costumed performers to a gastronomic fete with catering and bartender recommendations.
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad offers six of the 1920s Victorian coaches for private charter. When rented out in its entirety, the train can accommodate up to 394 guests, who can move freely between the coaches throughout the excursion. The train can be rented out for a mobile event or for a stationary event to create an unusual backdrop for meetings. There is a two-coach minimum rental for private charters, and additional coaches are added for an extra fee. Each climate-controlled coach offers a different seating arrangement. Coach 209 comfortably seats 40 people; coaches 206, 207 and 208 can accommodate 66 people; and coaches 1808 and 1818 can accommodate 78 guests.
During regularly operated trips, the dining car offers a snack selection of popcorn, hot dogs and soft drinks for guests to enjoy during the journey. For private events, the staff recommends groups arrange menus with one of the local restaurant partners to provide their guests with a moveable feast. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad partners with a vast array of local restaurants and cafes that range from budget options to gourmet eateries. Groups can bring their own alcohol or purchase it as part of their catering order, but all alcohol must be served by a state-certified bartender.