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’Tis the season for train rides

Polar Express and Santa Steam Trains in Chehalis

Take a ride on the vintage steam train for the Polar Express and Santa Steam Train Rides with the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum. Photo credit: Coralee Taylor of the Silver Agency

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It is hard to believe the year is almost over already. It seems like just yesterday everyone was counting down the days until spring and then summer vacation. Here we are again with winter upon us, and a favorite time of the year right around the corner. The holiday season brings back many local favorites, including the Polar Express and the Santa Steam Train Rides in Lewis County, which get started Nov. 23 and continue Friday-Sunday through Dec. 22.

The Polar Express train ride is based off the popular children's book and holiday movie starring Tom Hanks. This Warner Brothers licensed and trademarked event was brought to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum by board member Rick Burchett. It instantly became a hit, and the Polar Express has returned every year since.

Families with children of all ages will be delighted with the one-hour, nighttime ride on the 1916 vintage steam locomotive through the Chehalis River Valley. During the ride, hot chocolate and cookies are served by chefs dressed in character, just like in the major motion picture. The Polar Express book is read aloud to passengers, which makes the magic of the evening even more real as passengers experience their very own train ride. When the train arrives to the magical North Pole, Santa will climb aboard and visit with each passenger. Similar to the movie, Santa will also give each child a special gift of a bell.

For families with younger children who may enjoy a shorter train trip, the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum also offers Santa Steam Train Rides. These rides take place during the day and are a half-hour long. Santa goes along for the ride and visits with the children during the trip.

There will be photo opportunities for families before and after each trip. While guests are waiting for their adventure to begin, or at the conclusion of their magical adventure, the gift shop is open and ready for business. It offers a variety of items for sale including ornaments and Polar Express gifts for the holiday season. These cherished keepsakes will ensure that the memories of the holiday adventure are remembered for years to come.

The steam train rides have become a popular family tradition over the years and tend to sell out quickly. Not only has it become a beloved event for families, but it has also become a favorite among volunteers as well. The Polar Express and Santa Steam Train Rides welcome and even encourage families to dress in costume or perhaps even matching pajamas to add to the fun. It should be noted that the train cars are not heated, so please dress appropriately. Be sure to enjoy this world famous Polar Express event while tickets last this season.

Purchasing tickets ahead of time is highly recommended. Parking is free, and go online to find rates.

POLAR EXPRESS AND SANTA STREAM TRAINS, Friday-Sunday, Nov. 23-Dec. 22, 1101 SW Sylvenus St., Chehalis, 360.748.9593,

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