By Mindie Burgoyne
The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers an excursion train – the North Pole Express – starting Nov. 26 that takes children on a nighttime adventure in restored antique rail cars pulled by an authentic steam engine. With a little bit of imagination, parents and children can ride by train to the North Pole where Santa and Mrs. Claus are waiting to greet them.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
13 Canal Street
Cumberland, Md. 21502
Nov. 25– 27; Dec. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 18
Hours: 6– 9:30 p.m.
Price: Adults $29, Children (12 and younger) $27. No discount for child sitting on lap.
Children (and parents) get on the North Pole Express in their pajamas at 6 p.m. at the Canal Place station in Cumberland. During the ride to the North Pole (which is actually Frostburg), riders are taken past familiar Western Maryland landmarks. The children aboard the train are read a story entitled “The North Pole Express,” which recounts the journey of two young boys who live in the Cumberland area. Amanda Palmer, a former employee of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, wrote the story especially for the children who attend this excursion.
When the train arrives at “The North Pole” Santa and Mrs. Claus are waiting to greet the children. After cookies and hot chocolate, they’re invited to visit with Santa personally. Parents are free to take photos at no additional charge. Santa presents every child with a gift – a gift that ties into the theme of the story they heard on the train. As children wave goodbye to Santa, they board the North Pole Express for the ride back to Cumberland. The train gets in between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. making the entire nighttime adventure last about three to three and a half hours.
The train runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting Nov. 25 through Dec. 19 (closed Dec. 18). Advanced reservations are required and most tours sell out. Reservations can be made via the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad website or by phone.
The regularly scheduled day trains for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad for the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas (excluding Dec. 18), have Santa riding the train from Cumberland to Frostburg. So for families who can’t do the night excursion to the “North Pole,” the day train offers an opportunity to see Santa on a train.
The North Pole Express is limited to 200 children. Advanced registration is required. See Western Maryland Scenic Railroad website for more information.
Mindie Burgoyne is an author, travel writer and tour guide living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her blog, The Travel Hag shares information on outdoor travel for women. She is the author of Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake.