The Polar Express is a children's book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, originally published in 1985. As the story goes a young boy is lying in bed on Christmas Eve awaiting Santa's arrival when he hears the sound of a train outside his home, The Polar Express. He is invited by the conductor to come aboard the train, which is filled with children and heading to the North Pole to meet Santa and the elves. During the journey the kids are treated to hot chocolate and cookies, which is what has inspired their serving aboard The Polar Express tourist trains today. The story concludes with the young boy being picked by Santa to receive the first gift of Christmas and he chooses a simple, silver bell from Santa's sleigh. Interestingly, though, once he returns home and awakes on Christmas morning he notices that the bell is still in his possession. Finally, please visit the Rail Events, Inc. website for complete information regarding locations that offer official "The Polar Express" trips.
Additional Tourist Train Information, Trips By State
Alabama, Riding The Rails Through The Heart Of Dixie
Alaska, Experience The Breathtaking Scenery Of The Last Frontier
Arizona, Reach The Grand Canyon By Train
Arkansas, Ride The Arkansas & Missouri And Other Excursions
California, Home To A Wide Range Of Steam And Diesel-Powered Excursions
Colorado, Go Back In Time On The Fabled Narrow-Gauge Cumbres & Toltec Scenic And Durango & Silverton
Connecticut, Home Of The Essex Steam Train
Florida, Home To Dinner Trains And Steam-Powered Trips
Georgia, Enjoy A Wide Range Of Train Rides In The Peach State
Hawaii, Keeping Alive The State's Narrow-Gauge Railroad History
Illinois, Home To One Of The Country's Largest, The Illinois Railway Museum
Indiana, Experience The French Lick Scenic Railway And Other Trips
Iowa, Ride The Popular Boone & Scenic Valley Railway
Kansas, Showcasing A Few Trips By Rail
Kentucky, Home Of The "My Old Kentucky Dinner Train"
Maine, Riding The State's Fabled Narrow-Gauge Railroads
Maryland, Enjoy The Steam-Powered Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
Massachusetts, Featuring Several Popular Excursion Trains
Michigan, Home Of The Popular Huckleberry Railroad And "The Polar Express" Steam Locomotive, Pere Marquette #1225
Minnesota, Preserving The State's Rich Rail History
Missouri, Home Of The Popular Branson Scenic Railway
Nebraska, Ride The State's Only Excursion, The Fremont & Elkhorn Valley
Nevada, Experience The Legendary Virginia & Truckee
New Hampshire, Enjoy The State's Gorgeous Scenery By Rail
New Jersey, Preserving Its Railroad History
New Mexico, Ride The Fabled Narro-Gauge Cumbres & Toltec Scenic
New York, Offering Numerous Excursions To Enjoy The State's Scenic Beauty
North Carolina, Home Of The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad And Other Trips
Ohio, Enjoy The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad And Other Rides
Oklahoma, Where You Can Enjoy A Few Trips By Rail
Oregon, Excursions On The Popular Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad And Others
Pennsylvania, Home Of The World-Famous Strasburg Railroad
South Carolina, Trips At The South Carolina Railroad Museum
Tennessee, Enjoy Train Rides Through The Appalachians
Texas, Home Of The Steam-Powered Texas State Railroad
Washington, Experience The State's Beauty By Rail
West Virginia, Through The Mountain State's Breathtaking Backcountry
Wisconsin, Enjoy The Ever-Popular Wisconsin Great Northern
The information listed below, including both official "The Polar Express" trips (denoted by a small image of a steam locomotive) and general Christmas/holiday train rides for 2017, will continually be updated throughout the year as railroads and museums release their schedules.
Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum: The North Pole Express/Santa Special
is offered exclusively by the museum with kids able to meet Santa
during a one-hour train ride and receive a small gift from the Jolly
Man. The Santa Special is offered on select dates from late November through mid-December while the North Pole Express is available most Fridays through Sundays from late-November through mid-December.
North Alabama Railroad Museum: The Santa Train
carries a Christmas theme with the kids meeting Santa. Overall the
ride lasts for about 40 minutes and runs during select dates in December. They now also offer a second holiday-themed train, the North Star Limited. A bit similar to The Polar Express, the kids can enjoy a train, meet Santa, receive a small gift, and enjoy a snack upon arrival.
No events yet known.
Grand Canyon Railway:
Operates official The Polar Express trips from early, November through early January on select dates. The train departs Williams Depot and
lasts a little over an hour. Dates: November 10-12, 16-19, 22, 24-27, 29-30; December 1-4, 6-11, 13-24, 26-30; January 4-6. Updated for 2017.
Arkansas & Missouri Railroad: This short line freight system also offers a number of
Christmas-themed activities after Thanksgiving including a Children's Christmas Train,
the Holiday Express, and even Pajama Trains similar to The Polar Express. Please visit the railroad's website for more information about these trips.
California State Railroad Museum: Lasting about one-hour, official The Polar Express trips run most weekends at the museum from late November and during select dates in December. Dates: November 25-27, December 1-4, December 7-11, and December 14-18.
Fillmore & Western: The North Pole Express
is the Fillmore & Western's own Christmas train offered from late
November through late December. It is quite a spectacle with the entire
grounds decorated, Santa greets
passengers as they board, and a story is read during the ride. The
railroad also hosts several other activities such as the Christmas Tree Train, Santa Shopper, Return Santa To The North Pole, and Dinner With Santa.
Max's Miracle Ranch: This ranch is located in Biggs and offers a number of activities for the public along with being a working farm. On the grounds they also operate a scale railroad which hosts train rides, including their Christmas Light Extravaganza. They also sell Christmas trees and wreaths for the holiday.
Napa Valley Wine Train: The Santa Express Train is offered only by the railroad during December and features a one-hour ride with the kids able to meet Santa during the trip.
Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad & Transportation Museum: Based in Nevada City this organization hosts excursions on its property. While these do not include any type of Christmas or holiday train ride they do offer "Christmas At The Railroad Museum" allowing the kids to visit Santa and receive a gift.
Niles Canyon Railway: Offers the Train Of Lights through late November and during much of December with the train decorated in Christmas lights for the holiday season.
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum: The North Pole Limited
is operated in late November through mid-December on the weekends. It
lasts for about an hour and a half with elves serving kids hot chocolate and cookies followed by a story reading and finally meeting the Big Guy himself.
RailTown 1897: RailTown 1897 offers official The Polar Express train rides during select dates in December. Located in Jamestown, California RailTown
has been popular for many years, operating a variety of steam
locomotives. Dates: December 2-4, December 9-11, December 16-18. For more information please click here.
Roaring Camp: The Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train
is a unique experience offered during late November through December where riders can ride through the streets of
Santa Cruz enjoying treats, listening to music, and visiting Santa and
Mrs. Claus. They also host the Holiday Tree Walk, where a daytime train trip to Bear Mountain allows guests to disembark and view the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.
Sacramento RiverTrain: The Magical Christmas Train
is a 90-minute ride during November where kids and adults are both able to experience a whole host of
activities from meeting Santa to enjoying treats and listening to live
music. Quite an experience!
Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway: This relatively new operation has been growing in popularity, based in Santa Cruz. They host official The Polar Express trips on the following dates; November 18-20, November 23, November 25-27, November 30, December 1-4, December 7-11, and December 14-23.
Skunk Train: The Skunk Train is based in Fort Bragg and offers the Magical Christmas Train throughout much of December. It is a 90-minute train ride with music, hot chocolate, music, and a visit from Santa himself.
Western Pacific Railroad Museum: Based in Portola, the WPRM offers their Santa Train excursion during select weekends in December this year.
Colorado Railroad Museum: The Colorado Railroad Museum now hosts official The Polar Express trips around the museum grounds from late November through December. Dates: Every day from November 7th through December 24th.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: Hosts official The Polar Express trips every day from November through January, 2016. Not only does the railroad feature classic steam
locomotives but the views are just as splendid. It is one of the most
popular versions of The Polar Express offered around the country and
sells out quickly. Dates: Every day from November 19, 2016 through January 3, 2017.
Georgetown Loop Railroad: The Santa's North Pole Adventure
is offered weekends from late November through early January. While aboard the train
kids get to meet Santa and enjoy candy, cocoa, cookies, and receive a
small gift. They have also added Santa's Lighted Forest Trains, which run from late November through the end of December. This railroad also offers authentic steam locomotives
further enhancing the ride.
Royal Gorge Route Railroad: The Santa Express offers different classes
of service and begins in late November with trips usually run daily
throughout much of December. Trains travel to the North Pole to see Santa and
during the ride kids are able to enjoy treats and a story reading. They also now host the Holiday Train from late December through early January.
Danbury Railway Museum: This organization, which features both displays of historic equipment as well as train rides, offers Santa Trains during December.
Essex Steam Train: Their Santa Special
offers Christmas train rides behind steam locomotives. Trains run from late-November through late-December,
during an hour long where the kids able to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus as
well as receive a souvenir gift. They also now host the North Pole Express. To learn more about their trips please click here.
Naugatuck Railroad: The Santa Express allows kids to see Santa during the hour and a half train ride.
Additionally, the railroad offers two similar trains the Northern Lights
Limited and Santa's Train Workshop. Visit their website to learn more.
Shore Line Trolley Museum: This museum operates historic streetcars and trolleys, offering rides throughout the year. They also host special events, including the Santa's Trolley Winter Wonderland from late November and throughout much of December.
Wilmington & Western Railroad: The W&W's Santa Claus Express
offers an 1 1/2-hour trip from late-November through much of December. The
railroad also offers the uniqueness of steam-power and the train
features chocolate and, of course, a meet-and-greet with Santa. The railroad also now hosts the Holiday Lights Express, using their restored Doodlebug railcar. The car is decorated in lights and a 45-minute trip allows passengers to see the decorated private homes near the railroad. Finally, as early celebration of the holiday season they host the "Christmas In July" specials.
Gold Coast Railroad Museum: This organization, based in Miami, now hosts official The Polar Express trips from late November through late December. (Official 2016 dates have not yet been released.) To learn more about dates and pricing please visit their website.
Florida Railroad Museum: The popular North Pole Express offers kids the chance to meet Santa, the latter of which runs only during the day.
Seminole Gulf Railway: The Christmas Rail Boats
is an interesting train ride/boat trip that showcases the Christmas
lights around Punta Gorda. It is offered a few times in December. They also feature a special play for the Christmas Eve this year entitled "Noel Noir."
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway: The railroad's popular self-proclaimed Santa Express
runs from early November to nearly Christmas with daytime and
nighttime trips to see Santa available. During the one-hour ride the
kids get to see Santa and his elves, sing songs, and hear a Christmas
story. Also during December they host a longer excursion known as the Night Train To Santa's Pavilion. To learn more about their holiday trips please click here.
SAM Shortline: This tourist line, based in Cordele, offers one-time event on the first Saturday in December known as the Christmas In Plains, providing a train ride to Plains where passengers can enjoy the sights of area Christmas lights and decorations along with a parade and seasonal music. They also hope to book Santa for the trip! Finally, they offer Candy Cane Express, Mistletoe Express, and Breakfast with Santa Train during December.
Southeastern Railway Museum: The Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth offers their Day With Santa during late November and select dates in December. It is not an excursion train ride but kids can hang out with Santa all day and watch The Polar Express movie inside a coach passenger car later that night. Finally, they host an event known as Santa's Arriving on November 19, 2016 where St. Nick arrives by train to the museum amid a big party.
St. Marys Railroad: The St. Marys Railroad is a historic short line freight carrier based in St. Marys. They now offer excursions, including their Santa Express during late November as well as a few dates in December. The train journeys to Santa's Village and Santa himself rides the rails during the return trip.
No events yet known.
No events known.
Chicago Union Station: A special The Polar Express now operates directly out of this historic station, hosted in conjunction with Amtrak. For complete information about this trip please click here.
Fox River Trolley Museum: Based in South Elgin, the museum hosts official The Polar Express trips during late November and most weekends in December. Dates: November 20, November 26-27, December 3-4, December 10-11, and December 17-18.
Illinois Railway Museum: The museum offers the Happy Holiday Railway during select dates during late November and into December allowing kids to experience a 40-minute train ride while enjoying treats on-board and meeting St. Nick himself.
Monticello Railway Museum: This museum based in Monticello, which also offers train rides on the grounds, hosts official The Polar Express trips during select dates in late November through early December. Dates: November 17-19, 24-26; December 1-3, 8-9. Updated for 2017.
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum: The museum's popular Santa Trains are offered on select dates in December and feature a 45-minute train ride while the kids get to see Santa who gives each a small gift.
Indiana Railway Museum/French Lick Scenic Railway: This museum/tourist line hosts official The Polar Express trips on every Friday through Sunday beginning on November 4th and running until January 1, 2017.
Whitewater Valley Railroad:
Hosts official The Polar Express trips during select dates during November and December. Dates: November 18-20, November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 16-18. This excursion line also offers other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Claus Limited and Metamora Holiday Special Excursions.
Midwest Central Railroad: This tourist line runs its North Pole Express
during late November through mid-December departing North Station usually
behind one of two steam locomotives, a Shay and 2-6-0 Mogul. During the trip kids can meet Santa and receive a small gift.
Midland Railway: This railroad hosts the Santa Claus Express
from late November through mid-December. The train
offers live music on board and, of course, a visit with Santa. Please
note that their trains offer all open-air cars so dress accordingly.
Big South Fork Scenic Railway: Their South Fork Santa Express
is offered during late November through much of December featuring a one or two hour trip to meet St. Nick and receive a small gift.
Bluegrass Scenic Railroad: This tourist line, part of the Bluegrass Railroad Museum offers their Santa Claus Train ride during a few weekends in mid-December. They also host a Home For The Holidays train on November 25th.
Kentucky Railway Museum: Very similar to official The Polar Express trips the KRM's Santa Express and North Pole Express
offer an hour train ride while allowing kids to enjoy hot chocolate and
cookies during their trip to see Santa all while wearing their PJs!
Trains are offered throughout December up until the weekend before
Christmas. Please visit the museum's website for more information.
New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal: In association with Amtrak official The Polar Express trips will depart from the historic New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal during the 2016 holiday season. For complete scheduling information please click here.
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad: Hosts official The Polar Express trips on select dates in late November through Christmas. Please visit their
website for date and reservation information.
Seashore Trolley Museum: The museum's Christmas Prelude, held on select dates in early December,
is actually just a trolley ride with a Christmas theme offering patrons
hot chocolate, hot cider, tea, coffee and other snacks while aboard.
Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum: The recently rebuilt WW&F offers a Victorian Christmas on December 19th only with free rides, a visit from Santa, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum:
The popular B&O museum now offers official The Polar Express trips during late November. Dates: November 16-21 and November 24-28. The organization also hosts several other different Christmas-related
events and activities, including short train rides, during the holiday
season. Please visit their website to learn more.
Walkersville Southern Railroad: The little Walkersville Southern in Walkersvill, during the holiday season beginning in late November the railroad offers its Santa Trains, allowing the kids to see the Big Guy and enjoy treats during the trip.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad: The popular Western Maryland Scenic in Cumberland offers their North Pole Experience during late November and into December. These holiday rides take visitors on a journey to Frostburg, usually steam-powered, with Santa riding along too.
Edaville Railroad: Based in South Carver, this tourist line hosts used to host official The Polar Express trips. Today, they offer the "Christmas Festival Of Lights" from November 18, 2016 through January 1, 2017.
Cape Cod Central Railroad: The Cape Cod Central, located in Hyannis, hosts official The Polar Express trips on these dates: November 18-20, November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 14-23.
Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum: This museum offers their Moonlight Magic Friday on November 25th. The town is bedecked in holiday lights, stores throughout the town (Shelburne Falls) are open late, and the museum gives trolley rides in equipment dressed with holiday lights.
Coopersville & Marne Railway: Beginning in late November and throughout much of December this excursion train features its Santa Train. While Santa is, of course, aboard the train their version is a bit unique in that a princess reads the kids The Polar Express.
Huckleberry Railroad: The popular Huckleberry Railroad, part of the Genesee County Parks system, is part of their popular Christmas At Crossroads Holiday Magic festivities that begin in late November and last throughout most of December. The train is decorated for the holidays and offers nighttime rides.
Little River Railroad: Featuring real steam locomotives decorated for Christmas their Christmas Express offers kids on board treats and typically runs in late November through mid-December.
Steam Railroading Institute: The SRI offers their North Pole Express
beginning in late November before Thanksgiving and lasting throughout most of December. Another long trip that lasts four hours
riders and kids get to see Santa, enjoy cocoa and other live musical
entertainment. They also offer a Cocoa Class for an extra fare which
includes unlimited cocoa, a cookie, and a souvenir mug. Please note! The SRI owns the actual steam locomotive used in "The Polar Express"
movie, Pere Marquette 2-8-4 #1225 which often pulls the train.
Southern Michigan Railroad: This little tourist line offers the Santa Special excursions during the holiday season in December. To learn more please visit their website or call the railroad.
Minnesota Streetcar Museum: This museum, based in Chisholm, offers rides in historic streetcars throughout the year while also hosting special events. This includes their Holly Trolley, running during select dates in late November, where the kids can ride with Santa and the car is decorated for the holidays. They also run their Vinternatt on December 3rd where the trolley is decorated for the holidays, Christmas lights along the route, and perhaps a special appearance from Santa.
North Shore Scenic Railroad: The railroad, part of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, hosts their Christmas City Express running between Fitgers and the Duluth Depot from late November and throughout much of December. During the trip guests can enjoy the reading of the Christmas City Express story and a visit from Santa.
Grenada Railway: The Grenada Railway is a revived short line freight railroad owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings which utilizes 176 miles of the former Illinois Central main line between Southaven and Canton (it was along this stretch that famed IC engineer Casey Jones lost his life in a collision at Vaughan). For more information please visit their website.
Branson Scenic Railway: Based in Branson this tourist line offers popular excursions throughout the year. They also host official The Polar Express trips during much of November and December. Dates: November: 3-5, 9-12, 16-19, 22, 24-26, 30; December: 1-2, 4-23. Updated for 2017.
St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway: This excursion line, based in Jackson, offers their Santa Express from late November, throughout much of December where kids can see Santa and The Polar Express is read to all during the 2-hour trip.
St. Louis Union Station: The St. Louis Union Station organization hosts a holiday trip for 2016 known as the Santa Express. To learn more about this event please click here.
Charlie Russell Choo Choo: Montana's only excursion line offers guests splendid views of northern Montana aboard their North Pole Adventure, which lasts for 40 minutes and is offered several weeks after Thanksgiving.
No events yet known.
Nevada Northern Railway: The popular Nevada Northern, based in East Ely, hosts official The Polar Express trips during select dates in late November and during December. To learn more about scheduling and
pricing please visit their website. Dates: November 19, November 25-26, December 2-4, December 9-11, December 16-19, December 21-23, and December 26-28.
Virginia & Truckee: The
historic, rebuilt Virginia & Truckee, based in Virginia City hosts
several special excursions throughout the year. This includes official The Polar Express trips during November and December. Dates: Every day from November 17th through December 23rd. For more information about this trip please visit their website.
Conway Scenic Railroad: Their Santa's Holiday Express
is offered from Thanksgiving Weekend through the weekend of
mid-December. Trips last nearly an hour with kids enjoying cocoa,
cookies, seeing Santa, and receiving a small gift. They also now host their Journey To The North Pole trip from late November through late December.
Hobo Railroad/Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad: They host Santa Trains
from late November through mid-December. The trains operate between
Lincoln to Woodstock during the daytime only and last over an hour with
kids able to enjoy treats along the way and see Santa.
Black River & Western Railroad: The North Pole Express and Candy Cane Limited take visitors to the North Pole Station and is operated from late
November through mid-December with kids able to enjoy treats, sing
Christmas carols, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and receive a small
gift. The railroad has also added a new event, entitled, "Victorian Christmas Special," that includes carolers and Biblical characters aboard the train. To learn more please visit their website.
Delaware River Railroad Excursions/New York Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society: Based in Phillipsburg, this excursion line hosts official The Polar Express trips during late November and through most of December. Dates: November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, December 16-18.
Morristown & Erie Railway: A private and historic freight railroad the M&E, will play host to official The Polar Express trips on the following dates: November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, December 16-18, December 23, and December 30.
Pine Creek Railroad: Operated by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation, the Pine Creek Railroad offers the Christmas Express where kids get to ride with Santa and trains depart all day from around Thanksgiving Weekend through mid-December. For more information please visit their website and plan ahead as this ride, which has been offered now for more than 30 years, usually sells out quickly.
No events known.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad: One of New York's most popular excursions, the Adirondack Scenic hosts official The Polar Express trips from late November through most of December, departing from Utica Union Station. The railroad also hosts other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Train (departs Thendara) and the Adirondack Christmas Train (departs Utica). Dates for The Polar Express (departs Utica): November: 17-19, 24-26; December 1-3, 7-10, 14-19. Updated for 2017.
Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad: The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley operates Christmas Lights Trains and the Santa Express during the holiday season, the former in early December and the latter from late November throughout much of December.
Arcade & Attica Railroad: The North Pole Express operates most weekends from late November through December with kids encouraged to dress in their PJs while visiting Santa and enjoying hot cocoa and cookies. Please be aware that these trains use open-air cars so be sure to dress accordingly.
Medina Railroad Museum: This museum based in Medina has a significant collection of rolling stock on the grounds. They also offer excursions and host official The Polar Express trips on select dates in November and December. Dates: November 26-27, December 3-4, December 10-11, December 17-18.
Northfork Trolley Company: The Northfork Trolley Company, provides tourist trips on the North Fork of Long Island. They are based in Aquebogue and will host official The Polar Express trips. Dates: November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 15-23.
Saratoga & North Creek Railway: The increasingly popular Saratoga & North Creek now hosts official The Polar Express trips from mid-November and throughout much of December. They offer four classes of tickets so please visit their website to learn more. Dates: November 26, November 30, December 2-4, December 7-11, and December 13-23.
Trolley Museum Of New York: This museum, based in Kingston, operates historic trolleys and streetcars on 1 1/2-miles of track. The organization hosts a number of events throughout the year including their Annual Santa's Run during December where the kids can meet Santa.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Hosts official The Polar Express trips from November through December. One of the premier events offered by any tourist
railroad with three different classes of service during your trip to choose from you can also enjoy the spectacular views of the Smoky
Mountains. Dates: November: 10,11, 17-22, 24-26, 29-30; December 1-24, 26-31. Updated for 2017.
New Hope Valley Railway: They usually offer Santa Trains during select dates in early December each year. To learn more about these trips lease visit their website.
North Carolina Transportation Museum: The state's largest railroad museum, based in the former Southern's historic shops at Spencer, now hosts official The Polar Express trips from late November and throughout much of December. Dates: November 18-19, November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 15-22.
No events yet known.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad: One of the most popular excursion lines in the country offers a wide range of events throughout the year. They also host official The Polar Express trips during much of November and December. Dates: November 12–22, November 25-30, and December 1-20.
Dennison Railroad Depot Museum: Located within the restored Pennsylvania Railroad depot at Dennison, hosts official The Polar Express trips during select dates in December. Dates: December 2-4 and December 9-11.
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway: Operates Santa Trains during late November and much of December with several runs made on each day these special events run. They have remained a popular event on the railroad for many years!
Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad: The North Pole Express
allows kids to experience a half-hour train ride to see Santa and Mrs.
Claus at LM&M Junction while enjoying treats along the way and entertainment from the
elves. It is usually offered from late November through mid-December.
Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Inc.: This organization, based in Findlay, operates a 1/4-scale railroad and hosts several special events, including the North Pole Express during the holidays from late November through early January.
Eastern Flyer: This service provides privately-operated, daily passenger service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It is owned by Iowa Pacific, a large company that owns several railroads throughout the country. During the holiday season the Flyer will host official The Polar Express trips on these dates from late November through most of December. For tickets and complete information please click here.
Oklahoma Railway Museum: This museum, based in Oklahoma City, hosts their Christmas Train a few times in December among their many other excursions offered throughout the year.
Mount Hood Railroad: The Mount Hood Railroad, located in Hood River, hosts official The Polar Express trips throughout most of November and December. They
also offer three classes of tickets so please visit their website to
learn more. Dates: November 12-13, November 18-20, November 23, November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 14-23.
Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation: The ORHF, which maintains two operating and historic steam locomotives in Portland, Southern Pacific 4-8-4 #4449 and Spokane Portland & Seattle 4-8-4 #700, hosts The Holiday Express (pulled by #4449) during select dates from late November through mid-December. For complete information please click here.
Sumpter Valley Railway: Offers steam-powered Christmas Trains during December where kids can meet Santa.
Colebrookdale Railroad: A relatively new tourist railroad, the Colebrookdale Railroad, also known as the Secret Valley Line, began service in 2014 and operates 8.6 miles between Boyertown and Pottstown. They currently offer three different holiday excursions including the Night Before Christmas Train, Santa Claus Train, and Winter Starlight Express. For more information please visit their website.
Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad: The Milk & Honey Line offers the Polar Bear Express and Santa’s Surprise Trains from late November through mid-December with kids able to see the Big Guy. Please visit their website to learn more.
New Hope & Ivyland Railroad: Running from late November through early January, the North Pole Express
includes an over one-hour train ride where kids are able to see Santa,
listen to live music on board, and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies where
they also receive a gift during the trip. These trains are also usually
pulled by authentic steam locomotives.
Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad: The Oil Creek & Titusville, based in Titusville, operates Santa Trains during a few weekends after Thanksgiving where the kids enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while riding along with Santa himself.
Strasburg Railroad: The second most popular tourist railroad in the country offers their own version of a Christmas train, the Santa Paradise Express.
The train runs from late November through the weekend before Christmas
and operate between Lancaster and Paradise. The kids get to see Santa
and the trains are always pulled by steam locomotives. The railroad also now hosts the Night Before Christmas special during the holiday season. Finally, they host a Christmas Tree Train in early December. To learn more about these events please visit their website.
Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern Railroad: The WK&S is based in Kempton and offers their Santa Claus Special during the first weekend in December where kids are able to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. The railroad also offers Story Time With Mrs. Claus hosted on December 4th.
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council: The council is based in Woonsocket and hosts official The Polar Express trips on select days through late November and much of December. Dates: November: 17-19, 24-26; December: 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23. Updated for 2017.
Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad: Based in Newport hosts a themed-trip called the "Dickens Christmas Dinner Train." Guests will enjoy a meal while enjoying a retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by the Marley Bridges Theatre Company. To learn more please visit the railroad's website.
South Carolina Railroad Museum: The state's largest railroad museum also operates excursions on its premises including Train Rides With Santa during select dates in December. That same month they also host the Twilight Santa Express during which time the kids can meet Santa, enjoy hot cocoa, cookies, and enjoy a Christmas story.
Black Hills Central Railroad: The state's only notable excursion train, featuring live steam locomotives, hosts the Holiday Express; a Christmas-decorated train allowing kids to see Santa and
receive a small gift. It is offered on select dates in November and December
Tennessee Central Railway Museum: This popular museum in Nashville also hosts excursions, including the North Pole Express on select dates in November and December.
The train also offers three different classes of seating; regular, first
class, or dome.
Tennessee Valley Railroad: Another popular excursion, the Tennessee Valley Railroad offers their North Pole Limited (November and December dates), usually pulled by a live steam locomotive and giving kids the chance to see Santa, listen to story, sing songs, and enjoy refreshments. They also offer a special holiday dinner train known as the Christmas Special and now also run the new Summerville Santa Special during late November and into December. To learn more about these events please visit their website.
Three Rivers Rambler: Their Christmas Lantern Express is just that, festive holiday trains pulled by a live steam
locomotive. These trains typically operate every weekend from
Thanksgiving until just before Christmas. Please visit their website to
Austin Steam Train: The North Pole Flyer
is another Christmas train pulled by an authentic steam locomotive and
offers a very long 2+ hour train ride while the kids get to see Santa, enjoy cookies/hot chocolate,
and receive a small gift. It operates from late November through late December
Grapevine Railroad: The railroad's most popular Christmas train is the North Pole Express
for the kids run for only a few weekends following Thanksgiving. However, they also host Christmas Wine Trains for the adults as well as After Christmas Trains through the end of December. Please visit their website to learn more.
Texas State Railroad: One of the state's most popular attractions hosts official The Polar Express trips from late November and throughout most of December. Dates: November 18-22, November 25-27, December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 13-23.
West Texas & Lubbock Railroad: The West Texas & Lubbock, normally a short line freight operator, hosts official The Polar Express trips on its rails from late November through much of December.
Heber Valley Railroad: The North Pole Express
takes kids on a magical ride to see Santa aboard the train. During the
trip they can listen to choir-performed Christmas songs, play games, enjoy
refreshments, and take in the beautiful scenery. The train is hosted from late November until Christmas Eve.
Green Mountain Railroad/Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce/Vermont Children's Trust Foundation: Based in White River Junction these two organizations come together to host official The Polar Express trips during December. Dates: December 10-11.
White River Rotary Club: The club offers official The Polar Express trips on December 10-11, 2016. For more information about dates and times please visit their website.
No events yet known.
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum: Located in Chehalis, this museum hosts official The Polar Express trips during late November and much of December. Dates: November 25-December 18. Please note that they also offer Santa Steam Trains not related to the Polar Express during select dates in December. To learn more about these rides please visit their website.
Chelatchie Prairie Railroad: This tourist line is based in Chelatchie and hosts their Christmas Tree Specials during a few weekends following Thanksgiving. Please visit their website to learn more.
Lake Whatcom Railway: The Christmas Train
takes passengers on about a 1 1/2-hour journey during which time
everyone can enjoy on board refreshments, listen to live music, and have
a visit from Santa. For more information please visit their website.
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad: The Mt. Rainier Scenic hosts official The Polar Express trips trips on these dates in 2016: November 19-20, November 26-27, December 1-4, December 7-11, December 14-24, and December 26-30.
Northwest Railway Museum: The Santa Train has been in operation for more than 40 years now offering a 20-minute train ride to the Snoqualmie Depot to see Santa and receive a gift. Kids also receive refreshments during the trip. The train operates every weekend from after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas. To learn more please visit their website.
Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad/West Virginia Central Railroad: Hosts official The Polar Express trips on select dates throughout most of November and December. The trains board at the restored Western Maryland depot in Elkins and trips last about an hour. Dates: November 4-6, November 10-13, November 17-20, November 25-27, November 30-December 4, December 7-11, and December 14-18.
East Troy Electric Railroad: The East Troy Electric, based in East Troy, hosts excursions in restored trolley and streetcars. They offer a number of special excursions throughout the year including Christmas Trains during the holidays from late November through mid-Decenber. To learn more please visit their website.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum: This museum, located in North Freedom, also offers excursion train rides including the Santa Express during the weekend following Thanksgiving. The historic cars used on this trip are heated with old-fashioned wood stoves during the 7-mile round-trip that lasts about an hour.
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad: The Wisconsin & Southern is a large short line operating throughout southern Wisconsin that has been in operation since 1980. In 2014 it began hosting official The Polar Express trips. The ride lasts about an hour, running from Middleton (near Madison) to the "North Pole." The train normally offers three different classes of seating and will even feature a dome car for panoramic scenic views. For information please visit their website.
Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad: The Santa Pizza Train is usually offered between late November and late December with a 2 1/2-hour train ride for kids to enjoy pizza while riding with Santa. The kids also receive hot cocoa and cookies along with a small gift.
National Railroad Museum: The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay hosts official The Polar Express trips during late November and early December. To learn more please visit their website. Dates: November 18-20, November 25-27, November 30, and December 1-4.
No events yet known.
Aspen Crossing Railway: This excursion train, based in Mossleigh, Alberta, will host official The Polar Express trips. Their 2017 schedule has not, yet, been released. Please continue checking back for updates.
West Coast Railway Heritage Park: Located in Vancouver, British Columbia the WCRA hosts official The Polar Express trips. Dates: November 26-27, December 3-4, December 10-11, and December 17-18.
Dartmoor Railway: The Dartmoor Railway, a division of American-based Iowa Pacific and located in Okehampton, United Kingdom will host official The Polar Express trips during late November through most of December.
Seaton Tramway: New for 2016! The Seaton Tramway, which operates narrow gauge heritage trams between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton in East Devon's Axe Valley, will play host to official The Polar Express trips in 2016. Dates: December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 16-24.
Telford Steam Railway: The Telford Steam Railway (TSR) is a tourist railroad based in Horsehay, Telford in Shropshire, England. It was created in 1976 and operates part of the historic Wellington & Severn Junction Railway. They will host official The Polar Express trips on these dates: December 2-4, December 9-11, and December 16-23.
Weardale Railway: The Weardale Railway, which runs 18 miles between Bishop Auckland and East Gate, will host official The Polar Express trips. It is another division of Iowa Pacific. Dates for this year's trip have not yet been released.
The movie version of The Polar Express is a bit different, and a much longer tale, than the original but for the most part it sticks to the original story. To rail fans and historians the most notable aspect of the movie is Pere Marquette #1225, an actual 2-8-4 Berkshire-type steam locomotive, which is still operational and used as the basis of the locomotive in the movie. It, and its tender, was computer generated to the finest detail, including using the sounds of the locomotive while in operation, in the movie. Also, please be aware that only certain organizations operate the officially licensed Polar Express train and they are denoted here by the image above. All other organizations listed here operate Christmas or Santa Claus trains not affiliated with the Polar Express (but are worth the visit!).
Tourist Train Information
The Polar Express Train Rides