augusta free press news

The Gypsy Express is back!

gypsy expressStory by Chelsea Church

The Gypsy Express will be up and running on Saturday, May 2 for the 58th year.

The train will be operating on Saturdays from noon to 6 pm and on Sundays from 1-5 pm. Tickets are $1 per person, except on opening day, July 4th and Labor Day, when all rides will be free. Rides will also be free on the last operating day of the season, which will be the last Sunday in October. The train will not run if it rains.

The train was built in 1954 and started running in 1958. It was run by George and Linda Bartley, who sold the train to the City of Staunton 33 years later. Other than a few years in the 1990s, the train has run continuously since it began.

The Gypsy Express has come a long way over the years and continues “improving every year,” says Robert Rodgers, head of Gypsy Express Incorporated. GEI has added a lot to the facilities such as a bigger, heavier track, new bridges and buildings, except for the station house, and recently added a third, easy-access car. This car is larger to accommodate those in wheelchairs.

Rodgers believes the Gypsy Express is “the only miniature train that can take two wheelchairs at a time.” This makes it so that everyone is able to enjoy this fun, historic train in Gypsy Hill Park.

Gypsy Express Incorporated is a completely non-profit group. The staff consists of volunteers.

“The policy of the Gypsy Express is that the money that is taken in ticket sales, if it is not needed for maintenance or operation, goes back to the park for the kids,” says Rodgers.

Rodgers is proud to be a part of this organization and hopes it continues to grow and improve.

Volunteers play a big part in keeping this train alive. If you are interested in being a volunteer for the Gypsy Express you can call 885-0513 or 885-6618. No experience is necessary, and training is provided.