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"At The Throttle"
by Mark Bassett, Executive Director

A weekly series of columns originally published in the Saturday edition of the Ely Times 
Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical Foundation, operator of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. He can be reached at the museum (775) 289-2085 or e-mail: info@nnry.com

 


Taking 93 to the North Pole
26 October 2002


Last January, the Museum loaded Locomotive 93 and the passenger cars Ely and Nevada and moved them to Heber, Utah for the 2002 Winter Games. To accomplish this move we needed cranes and heavy trucks for the journey to Utah and back again.

On December 7th & 8th, Locomotive 93 and the Ely and Nevada passenger cars will again be traveling to a far away place--the North Pole! This journey will be considerably easier; no cranes and no trucks, just imagination.

Based on the children’s book The Polar Express, this is a story of a young boy and his sister who learn from their friends that there is no Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, however, the boy hears a distant whistle and sees a locomotive pull into his front yard. He boards it and is on a journey northward; the destination is the North Pole.

After he and the other children disembark, they learn that it is nearly time for Santa to begin his annual Christmas Eve journey. However, he will select one of them to receive the first gift of Christmas, which can be anything that they wish. The young boy is selected, and, after much thought, he chooses a bell from the harness of Santa's reindeer.

When he begins his trip to his home, the boy discovers that he had a hole in his pocket, and he lost the bell. The next morning, though, he receives an extra present: the bell with a note from Santa. His parents are disappointed because they do not hear the sweet jingle from it, and they think that it is broken. However, the boy and his sister DO hear the clear, sweet sound because of their faith.

Many years later, the sister could no longer hear the jingle, but the boy always could. He always believed in the spirit of Christmas.

 

We invite everybody to join us for these three special trains, as we fire up Locomotive 93, hook up to the passenger cars, Ely and Nevada and journey northward on the Nevada Northern Polar Express to the North Pole on December 7th & 8th.

Now for the Grinch part, I am one of those children who never grew up and I love Christmas. Where I invite all of our friends and supporters from White Pine County to ride the Polar Express (remember White Pine residents get a discount) there are 600 tickets available. This should be more than enough for White Pine County. Families in Las Vegas and Reno, hopefully, will purchase the remainder of the tickets.

The reason for the Museum for putting on the Polar Express is to raise funds for both the museum and the community. It was the dream 15 years ago that the Museum could become an economic generator for the community, again, as it was.

It is the goal of the Museum, in working with other community groups, to build a large community event that attracts visitors from the south and the west. Depending on the success of this year, we could plan for the first two weekends of December in 2003. That would be 1200 tickets. Our riders would be coming from out of town for the Polar Express. That means they would be filling up our motels, having meals in our restaurants, and filling up with gas at our gas stations. This would be bringing money to the community after the traditional tourist season has ended and just before Christmas when the extra money can be put to good use.

How successful will we be? Good question. Polar Express trains in other parts of the country sell out by mid November. Since this is our first year, we will be learning a lot on how to improve it for 2003, but I see the Polar Express growing a little bit more each year.

After all, how can you really celebrate Christmas without snow? And what are the chances of snow in Las Vegas? Now all we need is snow in Ely that weekend.

 

N.B. Story review provided by teacher Katy Smith, Pratt Elementary School, Pratt, West Virginia.

 

 


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