Idaho February 21, 2017
The Awesome Activity You’ll Want To Do In Idaho
There are hundreds of ways to experience Idaho’s incredible scenery up close and personal, but there’s something spectacularly All-American about the opportunity to see it from the perspective of a train, barrelling down the tracks. Sadly, Idaho’s last Pacific passenger line shut down in 2016, leaving railfans and explorers aching for something new.
Sometimes, Idahoans know how to get creative.
The Gem State is home to thousands of miles of abandoned railroads, crisscrossing and winding through the landscape as a reminder of days gone by.
While plenty of commercial and industrial lines still exist, a major portion of Idaho's tracks are abandoned - left to fall into disrepair and decay in the brutal winters and intense heat of our state's ever-changing seasons. Many of these lines are leftover from the height of Idaho's logging and mining days. They were once used to bring hopeful prospectors to the region or haul away ore, a changing landscape has rendered many of the tracks obsolete.
When the last Pacific passenger line -
Thunder Mountain through Horseshoe Bend - closed in 2016, it left a gaping hole in Idaho's history and culture.
Idaho is one of the only states in the country lacking passenger trains. So we had to get creative...
Affectionately known as "Track Speeders," these tiny railcars have become the newest way to explore the remnants of Idaho's historic railroads.
You might also hear them called Rail Racers.
Light, compact, and reminiscent of old mining tunnel cars and logging pulleys of yore, these itty-bitty vehicles traverse abandoned tracks with ease.
Well, until you get to a broken or missing section, in which case they're light enough to pick up and move around the obstacle.
These Track Speeders come in many different sizes and shapes (as you'll see in the video below), but are all built by hand by dedicated locals.
Depending on the materials and design, these beauties are typically electric or solar-powered, and can go up to 20mph.
While there are no dedicated tracks in Idaho for rail-riding, you can find sections of historic lines just about everywhere - like the Camas Prairie Railroad.
A note of caution: while many of Idaho's railroads seem abandoned at first glance, every line is still privately-owned and permission must be granted before attempting to ride on one, whether in-use or not. You should also take extreme care to know your surroundings and be aware that - without proper research beforehand - this is an illegal and dangerous activity.
What do you think? I’d love to see Idaho’s abandoned tracks restored, but this might be a good way to explore Idaho’s oldest rails in style! If you have any more info about legal spots for rail-riding, drop a comment below.