WINNSBORO — Love chugged down the tracks on Friday and Saturday night as 80 people rode the South Carolina Railroad Museum’s Sweetheart Train.
The ride included a full course meal and a romantic pause to watch the sunset. After the sunset, the railroad crew ran a rare night run down the tracks to take the diners from Rion Rock Quarry back the museum.
The meal was catered by Gene Springfield of Jenkinsville. Mary Catherine Marshall, executive director of South Carolina Archives and History Foundation, said all proceeds go to the South Carolina Railroad Museum. Funds will go toward railroad car maintenance and track work. Marshall helped coordinate the event.
The museum did its best to help support the local economy with this event.
“We try to keep the event local,” she said. “Gene Springfield of Jenkinsville did the catering. The roses given to the ladies in attendance came from Fairfield County. The Ben Arnold Beverage Company helped with sponsorship, too.”
For Monica Ward and Ozon Wilson of Columbia, it was their first visit to the railroad museum. Ward was quite impressed.
“The people are so kind and they have told a lot of interesting facts to us during the train ride,” Ward said.
Of course the meal and the company were a big part of the appeal for her.
It was a good old-fashioned dinner party with conversations and laughter abounding as the train covered the 5.1 miles of track.
This popular annual event was a sell out this year to the delight of museum staff.
The railroad has hosted two other dining car experiences as an ending to a Railroad Symposium. Two years ago people met once a week for six weeks to take a class that taught them a lot about railroads, locomotives and such. At the end of the class, the students were rewarded with a ride on a dinner train.
There is talk of a murder mystery train in the future as the museum seeks to expand its offerings, but for now that is just an idea. The staff are hopeful of another Sweetheart Train sell out next year.
During the ride, the train buffs spoke with pride of the railroad and the museum’s efforts to hold onto a piece of America’s history, and along they way they passed their love of trains along to some lovebirds over the weekend.