Lorton AutoTrain terminal
We awoke early the next morning and went again to the dining car for breakfast as the train rolled on through Richmond, Virginia. From there, it is less than two hours to the AutoTrain terminus in Lorton, Virginia. The train continued north on this busy rail corridor, passing numerous southbound freight and passenger trains. North of Fredericksburg, the terrain changes at the Fall Line marking the transition from the flat Tidewater to the rolling Piedmont region of Virginia. The rail line bridges several picturesque Potomac River tributaries: the Rappahannock River, Aquia Creek, Quantico Creek, and Occoquan Creek. The last of these, Occoquan Creek, signals we are almost at Lorton. The train arrived ahead of schedule.
The 855 miles (1425 km) from Florida have been covered in a little over 16 hours.
AutoTrain arrrives at Lorton
At Lorton, Virginia, a new terminal has been constructed. Passengers disembark and wait for their vehicles to be unloaded from the carriers. A new terminal has been constructed providing a comfortable and airy waiting room. The unloading processes moves quickly and it is not long before we are called to claim our vehicle. The staff brings it up to carport and we are on our way. We are home in a short time. Other passengers find an easy entrance to Interstate Highway I-95 adjacent to the terminal to continue their highway journey to points in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast.
What is there to do here, you ask, besides getting right on the highway? Nearby are two historical sites from the Revolutionary and early National period: Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, and Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason. (Se reviews in my other blogs.) Washington, DC, is only 20 miles up the interstate.
The Lorton area of suburban Fairfax County has been relatively undeveloped until this decade. Now, housing developments are going up rapidly. It continues to be an area for regional outdoor recreation, featuring two large parks: Burke Lake Park and Occoquan Regional Park. Overnight camping is available at Burke Lake Park--a convenient place to camp while visiting the Washington, DC, region. (Burke Lake Park even has its own miniature train ride!)
Brick Kiln at Occoquan Regional Park
Is AutoTrain worthwhile?
Taking the train is more expensive than finding a bargain airfare. It is comparable in cost to driving with an overnight stay and meals. But, the idea is that you are saved the drive time, gasoline, and an overnight stop. (Dinner and breakfast in the dining car are included in the ticket price.) Also, you already have your own car upon arrival, thus saving the cost of a car rental. I like trains, so I view a train ride itself as a part of the vacation.