Pumpkin Train rides highlight the month of October in Mt. Perry, Ohio. Board the historic Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad for a 45 minute ride through scenic southeastern Ohio. At the end of the ride in October, the train stops at the Pumpkin Patch where each child has an opportunity to go out in the field and pick out their own pumpkin.
Bill Ratz, Scott Dunbar, and an enthusiastic group of men and women enjoy spending weekends and free time working on the train, the tracks, and new ideas to make the train enjoyable. The sound of the train whistle and the call of “All Aboard!” thrills everyone who loves to ride a train.
Bill has been in love with trains since his first Lionel train as a child. When he became a paper boy, he always stopped to watch the trains along his route. Then his life turned a different direction when he met his wife, Pat, at Miami University where he majored in nuclear engineering. In recent years, he worked for IBM in Columbus City Schools as a software computer operator. His love of trains always remained as he worked with a tourist train there during his time off.
The Zanesville & Western Railroad (Z&W) extended throughout southeastern Ohio in 1902. It connected Columbus to many of the coal and clay mines in the area. Locals knew the line over a hundred years ago as “Zigzag & Wobble.” It often carried coal that was mined in many areas of Ohio, or Glass Rock’s silica sand to places manufacturing glass, pottery, dinnerware, and fire brick.
Beginning in 1982, the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad operated out of Hebron, Ohio. In 2003, they loaned their train to Byesville, Ohio until Byesville Scenic Railroad purchased their own equipment in 2006.
That same year of 2006, Bill and Pat heard from a friend, Ron Jedlicka, about an abandoned train track, that was owned by the State of Ohio. They took a ride to Mt. Perry to look the scene over and found the track was so overgrown that it couldn’t be seen in places. However, a dream was born that day.
Ron had a huge interest in railroads as had been one of the founders of Buckeye Central. Ron met Scott at a train meeting and convinced him to join their efforts at Mt. Perry. Soon some of the equipment from the old Buckeye Central was moved to Mt. Perry via rail. The flat car being used today is one of those pieces of equipment.
The first thing Bill purchased for the Z&W Scenic Railroad was a locomotive. It was built for the U.S. Navy in 1941. His next purchase was the Indiana Coach from 1920. It has seats, which are being recovered as time permits, from the Long Island Railroad. His last purchase was the transfer caboose. All of these cars were brought to Mt. Perry over the highway.
Scott has purchased other equipment that is used for the train. Bill will admit that although he loves trains, Scott is the one with the mechanical skills to keep things running. They make a great railroad team.
In 2008, the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad was born just a few miles off Interstate 70 between Columbus and Zanesville on SR 204. It operates out of Mt. Perry on the Glass Rock Spur along Jonathan Creek. The route today is about three and a half miles from Mt. Perry to East Fultonham and back. They have a flat open air car and an enclosed passenger car for your riding pleasure and a ramp for entering with ease.
The tracks must be sprayed every spring so the train can ride smoothly along its route. Side branches are trimmed to avoid accidental brushes with riders. A bright blue coat of paint has been applied to the open-air car making it look like new. These volunteers work hard to make the best of what they have available. The entire route shows the beautiful countryside with everything well maintained along the way.
Board the train in Mt. Perry for a work in progress. The route will eventually cross 13 bridges and have 12 miles of track. They are hoping to add several new events such as a wine tasting ride in the future.
There are many possibilities for a train ride. School groups, senior citizens, and Boy Scouts enjoy riding the rails. Hobo Camp Weekend encourages passengers to wear their best hobo clothes and join them for a hobo meal around the campfire.
A Hobo Camp Weekend encourages passengers to wear their best hobo clothes and join them for a hobo meal around the campfire. You will probably be treated to beans and wieners or hobo stew!
Grassman Weekend gives an opportunity to watch for Grassman, or Bigfoot as he is often called. This is a great chance to share stories about personal experiences and viewings.
Children get special treatment on many of the train rides. In October the Pumpkin Train runs rain or snow every Saturday and Sunday on October 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, and 30-31, 2021. The train leaves on the hour each hour from noon until 4:00. Kids love this time. A stop along the way gives children the opportunity to go out in the field and pick their own pumpkin.
In December, an evening Santa Train on December 11-12 and December 18-19, 2021 is decorated inside and out for the season. Children love this ride as everyone gets a bag of candy and also a wrapped gift when they depart. A highlight, of course, is a special visit from Santa.
60-80 people can ride the train easily. If you would like to have the whole train for your group even during the week, please call Bill at 614-595-9701 for a group rate. Parking is handy across the road in the Mt. Perry Foods parking lot.
Cost is very reasonable with $8 for adults, $5 for children 6-15, and children 5 and under are free. Plus this year, everyone will have the pleasure of getting their own pumpkin from the patch.
Meet the Z&W in October at the Pumpkin Patch!
Western & Zanesville Scenic Railroad is located just a few miles from I-70 at Exit 142. Turn south on Mt. Perry Road for four miles, then turn right onto Coopermill Road. After about half a mile, turn right on Ohio 204. Parking is on the right hand side of the road in the Mt. Perry Foods parking lot. Or you can put 5700 State Route 204 NE, Mt. Perry, Ohio in your GPS!