Monday, January 17, 2011

Scenes from the 2010 North Pole Express

Every year, the MCRR hosts the "North Pole Express." If you are curious what happens during this event, the following should give you a good idea of what our visitors experience.

After parking their cars at the north end of McMillan Park, North Pole Express riders walk towards the North Station.

Rather than mailing tickets to the riders, they check in with our staff (Jeanie T. shown here awaiting the next customer) and learn of their passenger car for their trip to the "North Pole."

As the upcoming train's riders start to gather at the North Station, in the distance they hear the rumble from one of several steam or diesel locomotives owned and operated by the MCRR.

For 2010, the 9 (three truck Class C Shay), the 6 (2-6-0 Baldwin), and 14 (0-4-0 diesel Plymouth Locomotive Works) all participated in the NPE trains. 66% of the trains were pulled by the 9, 23% were pulled by the 6, and 11% were pulled by the 14. In a perfect world, all the trains would be pulled by one locomotive, but numerous challenges kept one engine from dominating the action.

Most riders witnessed this scene -- the 9 chugging up the hill with its train ready to take riders to the "North Pole."

This is the view from the fireman's side of the locomotive as it approaches the North Station.

A few stragglers await companions before they board the train.

The train crew chat amongst themselves awaiting the last few passengers to board.

The train circles the park at least 1.5 times before pulling into the "North Pole" (usually known as the South Station.).

One of the first sights seen by passengers as then disembark is the snow princess.

Santa awaits the children in the caboose.

Santa having his picture taken by a proud parent.

Leaving the Santa caboose.

It is the "North Pole" and despite the infrared heaters, it does get a bit cold. Hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies are available for the participants.

Standing in front of a baggage cart loaded with presents, a young rider has a big smile as her parents take a picture.

The North Pole has a crafts room where children can make paper ornaments and other items.

A well stocked, railroad oriented gift shop is available.