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They come from afar to ride scenic railroad

Published August 02. 2010 05:00PM

Laura Kennedy, director of passenger service on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, said she's amazed at the interest people have in trains.

The railway operates from May to December from the Old Mauch Chunk Train Station in Jim Thorpe.

She said some people ride as often as three trips in one day. Some other riders appear at least once or twice a month.

In addition, she sees riders from every state in the union as well as from foreign countries. Recently, there were riders aboard from England.

This week, we talked to passengers from Bethlehem, Boston, Nebraska, and New Mexico.

Barb Rohl of Saylorsburg rode the train with her friends, Shirley and Orville Schumacher of Huntington, Neb., and the Schumacher's daughter, Pat Sedivy of New Castle, Neb.

Rohl said she became a pen pal of Orville Schumacher when she was in the fifth grade in the Bronx. He was a soldier in the Korean War.

The two remained pen pals through the years - although admittedly switching from regular mail to e-mail - but never met until last week when the Schumachers paid a visit.

"We were looking for things to do and saw there were train rides in Jim Thorpe," said Rohl.

Schumacher said he never considered himself a rail buff "but I'm enjoying this ride." He said, "The scenery is incredible."

Kate Kenneham of Alamogordo, New Mexico and her sons, Luke, 2, and Caleb, 5, were aboard the Lehigh Gorge ride. Also riding was Kate's father, Jim Smith of Oaklyn, N.J.

They came for the ride because, said Kate, "My boys love choo choo trains. We thought this would be something fun for them."

They rode in the caboose of the train.

Kate said the sons are big fans of Thomas the Train, seen on PBS television.

Mark and Jen Mento of Boston took their two-year-old son, Jacob for a ride. Also with the group was Jen's parents, Jack and Lynn Norman of Bethlehem.

Mark said he grew up in Bethlehem and often did hiking in the Lehigh Gorge.

Jack remarked, "It was a great ride. It's so unique to have old trains restored like this. It's a piece of history."

He added that he visited Jim Thorpe a number of times but this was his first time to take the train ride.

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