Some people define autumn in the Northeast as the time when trees change colors. But foliage is only part of the autumn experience, which is more than just visual. Fall is a state of mind, the work of all five senses. Apple pies smell better in the fall. Maple syrup tastes better. The breeze feels crisper. A football feels better in your hands. Every so often you stomp on fallen leaves just to hear the crunch.
Sure, the Hobo Harvest Time Express fall foliage train attracts visitors to Lincoln, New Hampshire, from all over New England and beyond. But there’s much more to do at Hobo Junction Station than just board a train. When you visit the station’s Farm Yard before or after your ride, you can experience many other simple joys of fall.
Hobo Harvest Time Express
The Hobo Harvest Time Express is an 80-minute, down-and-back ride southward along the Pemigewasset River at the base of the White Mountains. The scenic trip winds between walls of trees, sometimes hugs the river bank, crosses the river over trestles twice each way and six bridges each way in all.
This excursion through the timeless maples, birches, poplar, oaks and pines of the Pemigewasset River valley also provides views of boaters, canoeists, and at the southern end, even golfers hard at work. The train enters the popular Jack O’Lantern Golf Resort and chugs between fairways until reaching the trip’s reversal point near a picturesque covered bridge reserved for golf carts.
A diesel-electric locomotive built in 1949 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) will power your trip. This Alco S1 Switcher #958, one of just 548 built, operates in “semi-retirement” after decades of service with the Maine Central and Maine Coast lines. The six-cylinder, 660 hp engine was refreshed a decade ago.
There are no stops on the ride for sightseeing on foot, but you’ll ride in comfort and will be allowed to stand and stretch at the turnaround point. You’ll also have an opportunity to eat the Hobo Picnic Lunch you ordered at the ticket counter, and you’ll be invited to sample sensational pumpkin granola produced at Moulton Farm in nearby Meredith, New Hampshire, and sold at the Hobo Farm Stand.
The picnic lunch comes in two variations: sandwich of your choice with chips or chili with cornbread. Each also includes a beverage and cookie. The train will pause early in the journey for attendants to pick up your ordered meals, prepared aboard the Café Lafayette Dinner Train.
Hobo Farm Yard
Back at Hobo Junction Station, in the Farm Yard, pass your time at leisure enjoying free activities part of the Hobo Harvest Time Express Celebration.
One of the biggest draws this year is the array of life-sized scarecrows, positioned about the yard, designed to resemble top musical recording stars.
The scarecrows are the famed Cornstalk Critters, specially created for the event by the world-famous Annalee® doll company, also of Meredith. This year, the theme is “Scarecrows of Sound.” The “stars,” all in familiar if not iconic poses, include the Beatles, Elvis, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Sonny and Cher, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS.
Besides the scarecrow display, you and your family can enjoy a variety of fall-themed outdoor farm games—horseshoes, pumpkin bowling, corn hole, sack racing, ring toss and more. You can also stop at the Farm Stand and buy the granola you sampled aboard the train and other local seasonal taste delights.
Special Fall Attractions
The Hobo Harvest Time Express and Farm Yard are special seasonal programs of the Hobo Railroad. In 2015, foliage trains depart twice daily, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., from September 19 through October 18, and again on September 24 and 25. A third ride, departing at 3 p.m., is scheduled every Saturday from September 26 through October 17. The Hobo Farm Yard is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.