|Courtesy of the Algoma Central Ry. Click on the map for larger version.|
The train runs 114 winding miles northward from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., through the thickly forested Canadian Shield to Agawa Canyon, said to be one of the most spectacular rubbernecking sites in Ontario. It's an all-day trip, leaving at 8 a.m. and returning about 6 p.m. The train stops at the waterfall-bedecked canyon for 1 1/2 hours so that passengers can debark to hike and lollygag, then heads back to the Soo.
I'm making the trip wearing my field reporter's cap for Trainweb.org, and will be an on-board guest of Canadian National Railways, owner of the Algoma Central.
Past reviews of the journey on TripAdvisor.com have been all over the map. Some people hated it, some loved it, and many were indifferent. The two 2011 reviews so far posted on TripAdvisor, however, are four- and five-star, leading me to think that the winter refurbishment of the train has been a success. Many of the coaches have been replaced by rebuilt cars from the recently defunct Rio Grande Ski Train, which once carried skiers from Denver to Winter Park.
One of the new attractions of the train is a GPS-driven on-board narration (in five languages) of the tour that tells you exactly what you're seeing as you see it. Out of curiosity I asked the CN marketing people if they provided a printed script of the narration for the deaf and hearing-impaired -- and they do. They emailed me a link to the script for printing out, and I'll be carrying it on the train.
Full report to come.