< Nevada Northern Railway News

Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark      Ely, NV


"At the Throttle"

A Series of articles on the Nevada Northern Railway
By Mark Bassett, Executive Director, NNRY


Polar Express Steams Up
25 November 2009

It is that time of the year again-the days are getting shorter, the weather is definitely colder, and we have had snow on the ground. The staff and volunteers are preparing the locomotive and the passenger cars for some very special annual trips.

What trips? Why, they are the most special trips of the year. Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Nevada Northern Railway Museums offers a very special train, the Polar Express! Join us for a magical trip to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus.

At the front of the train, the massive diesel locomotive is idling quietly. If you stand close, you can feel the throb of its V-16 diesel engine ready to produce 1,750 horsepower. The passenger cars Ely and Nevada are decorated and ready for passengers. Then, just before departure time, the conductor will yell, "All Aboard to the North Pole!" Passengers will start loading. Once everyone is loaded, the conductor will close-up the train and signal the engineer that it is time to depart.

Up front, the engineer gives three sharp toots of the whistle and begins ringing the bell. Then the engineer pulls the throttle into run 1—for a moment, nothing happens. Then slowly, the wheels start turning. The locomotive bunches against the passenger cars. Slowly the train begins to pick up speed. Rolling past the station it's off to the North Pole!

Ready to board the train at the North Pole is the conductor, Santa's helper, and of course the jolly old elf himself—Santa.

On the Polar Express Santa stops to receive everyone's Christmas wishes.
At the North Pole, Santa climbs aboard the train to wish everyone a joyous Merry Christmas.
The Polar Express is a family event.

Based on the popular 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. Before he departs, Santa will select one of the children 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 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 in Santa and the spirit of Christmas.

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

Come join us, to experience a real life Polar Express. Locomotive 204 will hook up to the passenger cars, Ely and Nevada from November 27 through December 29. Then we head north—all the way to the North Pole to see Santa Claus. On our way to the North Pole, the engineer will be watching the track ahead to make sure we stay on the rails.

Inside the train, all passengers will be served hot chocolate and cookies. Once everyone is served, we will read the story of The Polar Express. Upon our arrival at the North Pole, Santa will board the train and greet all of the passengers. Santa and his elves will present a silver bell to all of the passengers. After Santa gets off the train, we will head back to Ely. During the trip back everyone is invited to sing Christmas carols.

So dress warmly and join us for our annual trek to the North Pole.