Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad
The Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad (ASVRR) has as its purpose the preservation of history by entertaining visitors. To this extent, the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad was formed in 1993. The excursion train has been operating for 19 years providing train rides not only for the general public but also for special groups, school field trips, dinner trains, birthday parties, weddings, and reunions. ASVRR has restored the former ATSF Steam Locomotive #3415 and the 1887 Rock Island Depot; both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To date, there have been over 215,000 riders on the train. The attraction also features the Schmidt Railroad Museum, which features model trains on display.
Backstory and Context
The Rock Island Railroad Branch through Abilene was originally constructed in 1887. The depot, now owned by the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad, was originally built in that same year on the north side of the tracks near its present location. It was built by a contractor by the name of Mr. Rains of Clay Center, Kansas. It is a wood frame structure approximately 22' by 110'. The outside of the building has received a new coat of paint to help preserve the building. It still has all the original woodwork and stained glass windows above the doors and windows.
It contained three rooms, the first from the west was a lady’s waiting room, the second or middle room was the agent’s office and ticket office and the third room was the men’s waiting room, This latter space was just recently converted to men’s and women’s restrooms. At the east end of the building was a very large freight room that will be converted to a railroad museum. The depot was no longer being used by the railroad and was moved to the south side of Fifth Street to make way for the Eisenhower Library & Museum.
A part of the railroad nearby is usable on occasion for excursions to view and learn about the railroad’s history. The schedule and times for these special trips are available on the Railroad Website. On these tours, you will get to experience a ride the regular excursion train from Abilene to Enterprise departing at 10:00 AM., and then transfer to the Silver Flyer Railbus, a specially modified bus that can use rail or regular road, from the Enterprise Depot for a short tour of the city of Enterprise. The railbus will then set on the rails on the east edge of Enterprise for a 12-mile ride on the historic and scenic stretch of the railroad between Enterprise and Woodbine that the excursion train does not have access to. Upon arrival in Woodbine, guests are treated to a lunch, and will then return to Enterprise by road which will include a brief stop at Rock Springs Ranch (the State 4-H camp) and a driving tour of the historic stone houses in the German, English, and Swedish settlements along the way. Thereafter the guests climb aboard the afternoon regular train in Enterprise for the final segment of the trip back to Abilene arriving at approximately 3:30 PM.