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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2021 812 Magazine

Dining on the rails

Enjoy a meal on the rails from Jasper to French Lick.

Jasper's Ride and Dine train transports passengers back to an era of luxury and relaxation in three kelly green cars with gold decorative letters.

"Everybody knows somebody who loves trains," Jasper Parks and Recreation Department Director Ken Buck says. "Everybody's got a little bit of 'train' in them."

Hop aboard and you'll find friendly attendants in each of three train cars--the Lounge Car, Club Car and Parlour Car. With each car's renovated woodwork interiors, it's no wonder that Jasper is known as the "woodworking capital of the world."

The Crane Naval Depot, twenty-five miles south of Bloomington, donated the cars in 2006 after they sat unused for more than twenty years. Town and city volunteers from companies such as Master Brand Cabinets, Buehler Foods and Jasper Engine and Transmission restored each car over the course of two to three years.

In the Lounge Car you'll find light wood and modern furniture, with seating for 48 diners at tables attached to the wall. This car once transported the bodies of World War I soldiers to their hometowns, and was originally called a "coffin car."

Wander over to the Club Car, renovated in 2009, for 46 additional cushioned seats around comfortable dining tables for two to four people.

Stop in the Parlour Car for a drink. It seats 26 people, leaving ample space for a 19-foot-long bar that stretches the car's entire length. Passengers can sit on barstools to take in the scenery.

As 25 miles of rolling hills and shallow creeks pass outside, passengers enjoy a 2-2 \0xBD hour train ride on the rails catered buffet-style by the local Schnitzelbank Restaurant.

Meals onboard include home-style favorites such as fried chicken, roast beef and mashed potatoes, BBQ beef brisket, Italian chicken breasts and cheesy potato casserole.

When the train pulls in to French Lick, the adventure is just half-over. On the return trip to Jasper, diners enjoy desserts including fruit cobbler, coconut cream pies and bread pudding with bourbon sauce.

The scenery is enjoyable, the meal is great, and the experience is awesome, Buck says. "This trip is unbelievable. This is the only dinner train in Indiana. Period."

Quick facts:

  • Cost: $45/person
  • Duration: 2-2 \0xBD hours
  • Distance: From the Jasper Depot in Dubois County to French Lick (about 50 miles roundtrip)
  • Dates open: June 1, 15, 16, 29, and 30; July 6, 13, 27, and 28; August 30; September 7, 14, and 28; October 6, 12, 13, 20, 26, and 27

Before you go:

  • Leave your pets at home
  • Bring cash if you are over 21
  • Book your ride at least 48 hours in advance