Polar Express Train Rides: A Complete Guide (2023)

Last revised: February 15, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Officially licensed The Polar Express train rides have become an increasingly popular attraction across the country since Warner Brothers Pictures released the film in November, 2004.

Numerous organizations, from museums to tourist railroads, now host such themed rides every November and December (some even run into early January).

They feature a story-telling of Chris Van Allsburg's magical tale, The Polar Express, which comes complete with hot chocolate, cookies, and a small gift.

When possible, and if available, a steam locomotive is used to pull the train.  I have had the experience to enjoy these events on more than one occasion.  

If you have the means, I highly recommend taking your kids, grandchildren, or nieces/nephews!  The productions are excellent and highly entertaining.

Please Note!  While I have striven to make sure the information presented is accurate to the best of my knowledge, I cannot say-so with 100% certainty.  

Please contact each individual organization regarding available trains, specific dates, times, and ticket pricing.

Union Pacific 4-8-4 #844 steams through snowy Winnemucca, Nevada with a special excursion during an early spring storm on April 15, 2009. Drew Jacksich photo.

State Guide

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 events.  





New Jersey

New York


United Kingdom/Britain

Please look for the Updated! icon for 2023 Polar Express events.


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Grand Canyon Railway:  The Grand Canyon Railway operates the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe's "Grand Canyon Branch" from Williams to the Canyon's South Rim (64 miles).

The Santa Fe even had its own train named for the national park and the railroad hauled many tourists to the site annually. 

However, as highways improved and Amtrak took over intercity passenger service (1971), the line's need dwindled to the point it was sold to new operators in 1988, forming today's Grand Canyon Railway. 

While the scenery alone regularly draws tens of thousands its opulent services, where guests can travel back in time to experience the golden age of rail travel within climate controlled cars, does as well. The accommodations go beyond the train as lodging, an RV park, and even a pet resort is also available.   

You can also pick from a variety of packages that includes both lodging (at the Grand Canyon) and the train.  For the Christmas season the railway operates official The Polar Express events from early, November through early January on select dates.

The train departs Williams Depot and lasts about 90 minutes.

The Polar Express Dates: 


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Brightline:  This is a new operation launched on May 19, 2018 that provides regional passenger service between Miami and West Palm Beach.

It originally began as "All Aboard Florida" in March, 2012 by the Florida East Coast Railway; construction began in November, 2014 and was subsequently acquired by Virgin Trains USA.

There are big plans for this new operation, including trains operating at speeds up to 125 mph as well as an Orlando extension.   

If successful, and ultimately profitable, similar commuter/passenger corridors will likely be built across the country in the coming years. 

Recently, the company began hosting official The Polar Express excursions under a tourist train known as the "Miami Central."  They offer three different classes; Value, Standard, and Premium.

Virgin's The Polar Express events last roughly 1-hour with trains departing from the Fort Lauderdale Station at 101 Northwest, 2nd Avenue. as well as Miami. 

The Polar Express Dates: 


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Southern Pacific 4-8-4 #4449 flies at speed on a cold fall morning through Whitefish, Montana as it heads westbound for Spokane, Washington on October 19, 2009. Drew Jacksich photo.


Indiana Railway Museum/French Lick Scenic Railway:  When you have been around for more than 50 years you are bound to have an impressive collection. 

That is the case at the Indiana Railway Museum which, since its 1961 founding, has amassed over 65 pieces of rolling stock, including operational diesel locomotives. 

While the organization is primarily focused on the state's rail history their collection is a mishmash of equipment owned by railroads which never Indiana, such as the Chicago & North Western, Rock Island, Seaboard Air Line, and others. 

IRM was first able to offer excursions following the 1978 acquisition of a former Southern Railway branch between West Baden and Dubois (passing through French Lick and the  Hoosier National Forest), which totaled 16 miles. 

Today, 10 miles are utilized for passenger trains while the remainder is operated for freight service as the Dubois County Railroad.  

The Polar Express Dates: 

Whitewater Valley Rail Road:  This organization takes its name from the original company which opened along the Whitewater Canal between Valley Junction (west of Cincinnati) and Connersville, Indiana in 1867. 

The WWVRR would go on to join the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, a subsidiary of the New York Central & Hudson River (which later formed the modern New York Central System). 

The CCC&StL was also known as the "Big Four" and would comprise most of NYC's network in western Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. 

With the creation of Penn Central in 1968 many secondary routes like the current Whitewater Valley Rail Road were deemed redundant, unprofitable, and superfluous. 

After its formation in 1972, the preservation group was able to purchase 18 miles of the line between Connersville and Metamora in 1983.  Today, they have a substantial collection of diesel locomotives and a few steam switchers. 

Despite its rural location the Whitewater Valley Rail Road puts on a fine attraction for the public offering several different rides and events throughout the year such as a mock train robbery, holiday specials, murder mysteries, and much more. 

The Polar Express Dates: 

The WWVRR also offers other Christmas-themed rides including the Santa Claus Limited and Metamora Holiday Special Excursions


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Midland Railway:  The all-volunteer Midland Railway is based in Baldwin City and has grown into a popular attraction. 

The organization got its start in 1987 when a group of investors, looking to launch their own tourist railroad, acquired a secondary corridor of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe between Baldwin City and Ottawa, Kansas. 

At the time the AT&SF was attempting to offload a great deal of its branches and unprofitable routes, most of which were located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

Many had been built to serve the Heartland's agricultural needs but unfortunately railroads were heavily overbuilt throughout the Midwest. 

As a result, when trucks began grabbing increasingly greater market share during the 20th century thousands of miles became redundant and/or money-losing operations. 

The Midland Railway has acquired an impressive collection of equipment and maintain a railroad that stretches 11 total miles, allowing it to offer visitors 20-mile round trips. 

One of their locomotives is a rather unique RS3m with components from two different manufacturers.  One of their special events is the offering official The Polar Express trips during November and December. 


Big South Fork Scenic RailwayOne of Kentucky's best kept secrets is the Big South Fork Scenic Railway located in Stearns, Kentucky. 

It operates a 16-mile round-trip excursion through the Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.  For train enthusiasts, this line is of particular note. 

It had previously belonged to the historic short line Kentucky & Tennessee Railway.  It was opened in 1902 by Michigan industrialists Justus S. Stearns who wanted a railroad to serve his timberland at the head of Kentucky's Rock Creek. 

Along the way the 25-mile line passed through the small community of Happy Hollow, which he renamed Stearns (where it connected with the much larger Southern Railway).  In later years coal became the K&T's primary commodity. 

It attracted railfans for its propensity to use steam locomotives well after most other railroads had retired theirs.  Its final three 2-8-2's were not retired until February, 1964. 

Freight operations survived until Blue Diamond Coal closed the last mine in October, 1987.  By then, only 10.5 miles remained and excursions had been operated since 1982 when the Big South Fork Scenic Railway launched on July 1st that year. 

Its current operation is collection of open-air and enclosed cars pulled by historic diesel locomotives.   

Big South's version of The Polar Express departs from the Stearns Depot for the North Pole; during the trip kids can enjoy hot chocolate and cocoa, meet Santa, partake in caroling, and receive a small gift.  

The Polar Express Dates: 


New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal:  This historic passenger station is one of three locations where Amtrak hosts official The Polar Express train rides. 

The immense success and critical acclaim of Warner Brothers' 2004 film spun-off an unexpected new market, excursion trains masquerading as "The Polar Express." 

It began as an impromptu experiment by a handful of organizations and became so popular Warner Brothers now requires licensing fees through Rail Events, Inc. for any railroad/museum wishing to host the event. 

As it continues to grow the production has branched out to major Amtrak terminals, such as New Orleans, and will likely continue to expand in the coming years.  

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal was one of the last great facilities opened in America when completed in 1954.  It was designed by architects Wogan & Bernard, Jules K. de la Vergne, and August Perez & Associates in 1949 as actual construction took three years. 

NOUPT replaced New Orleans Union Station (built in 1892, demolished in 1954) and served all of the major railroads serving the city including Illinois Central, Southern Railway, Southern Pacific, Kansas City Southern, and Louisville & Nashville.

For complete scheduling information please click here.


Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad:  The Maine Narrow-Gauge Railroad & Museum operates a two-foot narrow-gauge railroad using restored steam locomotives.  It is the only "Two Footer" currently offering official The Polar Express events. 

The two-foot gauge was all but exclusive to the state of Maine; nowhere else could one find such a wide array of tiny railroads that weren't much larger than those found at a zoo. 

Loggers and timber operations came to love them.  They were cheap, effective, and required minimum construction; three attributes perfect in an industry constantly on the move.   

There were a total of eleven Maine two-footers in operation at some point including:

  • Bridgton & Saco River Railroad

  • Kennebec Central Railroad
  • Monson Railroad
  • Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad
  • Sandy River Railroad
  • Franklin & Megantic Railroad
  • Kingfield & Dead River Railroad
  • Phillips & Rangeley Railroad
  • Madrid Railroad
  • Eustis Railroad
  • Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railroad (partially rebuilt by the museum of the same name)

Through their hard work, the history of this unique aspect of railroading has been well document and preserved. 

In addition to its numerous pieces of static equipment, the museum operates a number of special events and trains throughout the year including The Polar Express on select dates in late November through Christmas. 

The Polar Express Dates: 


Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum: This is one of the preeminent railroad museums in the country and a must see. 

Its entire existence is thanks to the company whose name it bears, the Baltimore & Ohio, our nation's first common-carrier railroad. 

It was founded by the B&O in 1953 to house its growing collection of historic equipment and archival material which had been preserved over its 126-year history (up until that time). 

Several pieces came from the 1927 Fair of the Iron Horse, which had included replicas of original pieces never preserved (such as the "Tom Thumb" locomotive). 

The B&O Museum is about more than just railroads; it tells the history of a young nation transformed by a revolutionary technology capable of moving people and goods at previously unheard of speeds. 

Many of the pieces you will see are priceless and would otherwise be on display at the Smithsonian.  The museum now offers official The Polar Express train rides during November through early December.

The organization also hosts several other different Christmas-related events and activities during the holiday season, including short train rides, story-time with Mrs. Claus, and breakfast with Santa. 

The Polar Express Dates: 

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad:  The WMSR is one of the East's noteworthy tourist trains, operating 15.3 miles of the former Western Maryland's main line between its old terminal of Cumberland and Frostburg, including the famous "Helmstetter's Curve." 

Launched in 1988 many come to ride its trains for the incredible scenery the Appalachian Mountains afford, especially during the fall. Aside from entertaining passengers, WMSR's mission is to preserve the memory of the Western Maryland (WM). 

The line you will travel was the last major component built by the railroad, the concept of George Gould (son of noted tycoon Jay Gould) to extend the line west where it would connect with his other properties near Pittsburgh. 

His ultimate goal was to link the nation by rail, creating the first coast-to-coast railroad.

Unfortunately, Gould overextended his finances and lost control of the WM in 1910 but the railroad nevertheless went on to complete the extension to Connellsville where it linked up with the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. 

For decades it was a vital corridor handling high-priority freight trains.  However, when the WM joined the Chessie System in 1972 the line was largely abandoned (1975) in favor of the nearby B&O, save for the section operated by the WMSR. 

The Polar Express Dates: 


Cape Cod Central RailroadThe Cape Cod Central Railroad is a very popular tourist attraction due not only to the great scenery but also its many different dinner trains and specials.

Running over a former New Haven Railroad line, the Cape Cod Central Railroad was formed in 1999 and through dedicated service and determination has become a popular venue.

Today, while the railroad offers upscale accommodations along with traditional excursions.

The Polar Express Dates: 


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Virginia & Truckee:  Nevada may not be the first state which comes to mind when it comes to railroads.  However, not only was the historical western leg of the Transcontinental Railroad (Central Pacific) but also three major tourist attractions/museums can be found there today. 

The history of the Virginia & Truckee is quite fascinating.  It's legend was born during the 19th and early 20th centuries when it handled copious of silver ore following the famous Comstock Lode's discovery in 1850 in Gold Canyon, Nevada (near present-day Dayton). 

As increasing volumes of silver (and some gold) were mined, a railroad was needed.  This idea had been discussed since 1861 with a planned line linking Virginia City with Carson City; work was finally launched on February 18, 1869 and completed later that year on September 28. 

The V&T became one of the richest little short lines in the nation (it was earning $100,000 in profits each month in 1875) and would expand to Reno where a connection was reached with the Southern Pacific (31 miles from Carson City). 

It would also open a 15-mile branch to Minden in 1906.  Following the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 the price of silver sharply declined and so did the V&T's fortunes. 

It failed to earn a profit for the first time ever in 1924 and ran its last train over the original trackage between Virginia City and Carson City on June 4, 1938. Following years of mounting losses, operations ceased entirely on May 30, 1950. 

The effort to rebuild the original line began in the 1970's and especially took flight in the 1990's.  A great deal has been accomplished but is not yet complete. 

However, the work continues and the present-day V&T now hosts several excursions throughout the year, including special events like official The Polar Express train rides during November and December. 

These trains are pulled by historic steam locomotives and a diesel switcher.  

The Polar Express Dates: 

New Hampshire

No events known.

New Mexico

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"Holiday Homecoming." Art by David A. Oram.

North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad:  One of the nation's top tourist railroads can be found in Bryson City, North Carolina.  The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has been a top attraction within the state's western mountains since it formally launched in 1988. 

It utilizes a section of the Southern Railway's historic Murphy Branch which ran 123.1 miles from Asheville to rural Murphy where a connection was established with the Louisville & Nashville. 

The line's rugged profile and beautiful topography draws in thousands annually, thanks in part to its relatively close proximity to Asheville (about an hour away).  The GSMR currently operates the Bryson City-Nantahala segment, 30.7 miles. 

To read more about the railroad please click here.  The company also features one of the nation's premier versions of The Polar Express during November and December. 

The railroad offers four different levels of service including First Class, Premium Crown Class, Crown Class, and Coach.  Whichever you choose, the accommodations are top notch; few other places operate such a superb fleet of passenger cars. 

The Polar Express Dates: 

North Carolina Transportation Museum:  The best railroad museum in the Tarheel State and one of the best in the nation, the NCTM was born thanks to a generous donation by the Southern Railway. 

In 1977 it handed over four acres of its Spencer Shops complex (including three buildings) to North Carolina (another donation occurred in 1979 when more buildings and structures were donated). 

Unlike some, the state has fully embraced this gift, turning it into a major tourist attraction and historical center.  Visitors can learn about the railroad's impact on North Carolina and also take a train ride behind restored steam and diesel locomotives. 

NCTM's collection is primarily focused on those systems which served the state.  While there are several railroad pieces, including a number from the Southern Railway, their collection also includes trolleys, planes, and historic vehicles.   

The museum hosts several special events throughout the year, including official The Polar Express trips from mid-November through December. 

If you are considering a visit to a railroad museum soon or riding an excursion the NCTM offers a wonderful experience. 

The Polar Express Dates: 

North Dakota

No events yet known.


Dennison Railroad Depot Museum:  This museum is located in the town of Dennison's restored Pennsylvania Railroad depot completed in 1873. 

The single-story brick structure is your typical station, a beautiful gingerbread design with large dormers and overhangs. 

It sits along a still-active component of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, a PRR subsidiary also known as the Panhandle Route, which once linked Pittsburgh with St. Louis. 

After Conrail lost interest in the corridor, eventually abandoning large sections, the city of Dennsion stepped in to save their depot, acquiring it from the railroad in 1984. 

It has since undergone several restoration phases since 1992.  During the last 30+ years the organization has collected several artifacts, freight and passenger cars, and even two steam locomotives; Ohio Electric Power 0-4-0F (fireless) #4759 and Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 #2700 (a 1943 product of American Locomotive). 

Both locomotives sit on display.  In cooperation with freight line Columbus & Ohio River Railroad the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is able to host official The Polar Express train rides during select dates in December. 

The Polar Express Dates: 


Oklahoma Railway Museum:  The state of Oklahoma offers few train rides for the public.  The Oklahoma Railway Museum is the lone exception, providing the public with trips over about 3 miles of track in Oklahoma City which historically was part of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (nicknamed the "Katy"). 

The organization began as the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) in 1972 to preserve the state's rail history and provide excursions. 

It took more than 25 years but the group finally secured their own 3-acre site in 1999.  In addition, after four more years of work it began hosting passenger trains in 2003. 

That year it enjoyed just 150 passengers; in five years the number had jumped to 16,000 by 2008.  Today, these numbers are even higher and the museum operates several excursions and specials throughout the spring, summer, and fall. 

Their static displays, cars, and locomotives are numerous including several diesels, passenger cars, freight cars, and other types of equipment. 

The organization now offers official The Polar Express events. 

The Polar Express Dates: 


No events known.


No events known.

Rhode Island

Blackstone Valley Tourism Council: As its name suggests, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council aims to market Rhode Island's beautiful and historical Blackstone River Valley. 

It has been doing so for the last 30+ years.  One way it helps promote the region is by hosting official The Polar Express train rides in conjunction with the Providence & Worcester. 

These trips (lasting about 90 minutes) depart from the beautifully restored P&W/New York, New Haven & Hartford wooden depot in Woonsocket built in 1882.  

The Polar Express Dates: 

South Carolina

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South Dakota

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Green Mountain Railroad/Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce/Vermont Children's Trust Foundation:  Based in White River Junction these organizations come together to host official The Polar Express train rides for one weekend in December.  

The Green Mountain Railroad has operated since 1964 utilizing much of the former Rutland Railroad, a historic system which served its home state. 

Its importance cannot be understated.  It connected communities and farms with the national rail network, enabling the goods they produced (notably milk, marble, and general manufacturing/agriculture) with largest markets like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. 

The railroad began as the Champlain & Connecticut River Rail Road, chartered by Vermont in October, 1843 to connect Rutland and Burlington.

In 1867 it became the Rutland Railroad and eventually grew into a significant New England system connecting Chatham, New York with most of Vermont. 

It also maintained a northern, east-west component running to the port of Ogdensburg, New York along St. Lawrence River.  Unfortunately, competition from other railroads and transportation modes made life difficult for the Rutland. 

A strike in 1960 severely crippled the road and it never reopened.  Most of its remaining track was purchased by the state in 1963 forming today's Vermont Railway with excursions hosted as the Green Mountain Railroad. 

The Polar Express will depart from Burlington with trips lasting about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

White River Rotary Club:  The club at White River Junction was established in 1924.  

According to their website, "Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs."  


No events known.


(Currently Closed Due To A Washout) Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum:  For those who want to see a steam locomotive in action within the Pacific Northwest a visit to Chehalis is a must. 

The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum operates the following locomotive:

  • Cowlitz, Chehalis, & Cascade Railroad (CC&C) 2-8-2 #15 (built by Baldwin Locomotive in 1916)

Two others under are restoration:

  • CC&C 2-8-0 #25 (built by Baldwin in 1920)

  • Rayonier 2-6-6-2T Mallet #8 (built by Baldwin in 1924)

To host excursions they utilize a 10-mile section of the old Milwaukee Road (which left the west coast in 1980), currently owned by the Port of Chehalis (and used for freight service by Tacoma Rail); founded in 1986, public outings began three years later. 

The museum is primarily dedicated to the region's logging history with several pieces focused on that subject.  In addition, they host an array of various train rides for the public including dinner trains, regular excursions, and specials for virtually every holiday. 

These trips are quite popular, even more so thanks to the use of steam locomotives which draws even larger crowds.  One of their special events is hosting official The Polar Express events during late November through December.  

The Polar Express Dates: 

Please note that they also offer Santa Steam Trains not related to The Polar Express during select dates in December.

Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad  (Indefinitely Closed In 2020)Few other places in America can boast nearly a half-dozen operational steam locomotives. 

If you enjoy rail history and seeing these incredible machines in service you must plan a visit to the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad & Logging Museum. 

Located in Elbe it utilizes about 7 miles of the old Milwaukee Road to Mineral.  After the Milwaukee left the west the track was acquired by Weyerhaeuser and then the city of Tacoma in 1998. 

Today, the MRSR is managed by American Heritage Railways, which operates some of the nation's finest excursion trains like the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. 

Steam locomotives you can catch in action here include:

  • Rayonier (Polson Logging) 2-8-2 #70 (Baldwin/1922)

  • Hammond Lumber Company 2-8-2T #17 (Alco/1929)

  • Hillcrest Lumber Company 3-Truck Climax #10 (Climax/1928)

  • Whitney Engineering Company 3-Truck/90-Ton Heisler #91 (built as #102 by Heisler in 1929)

  • Rayonier 3-Truck, 75-Ton Willamette #2 (Willamette Iron & Steel/1929).

They also have other locomotives either on display or under restoration.

West Virginia

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad/West Virginia Central Railroad:  The West Virginia Central has become the defacto name for all of the Mountain State's tourist trains operated by John and Kathy Smith. 

These include the original WVC (ex-Western Maryland trackage around Elkins), the world-famous Cass Scenic Railroad at Cass, and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley in Durbin. 

What is today transforming into a fluid, interconnected, and very popular attraction was nearly all abandoned (save for Cass Scenic) after CSX Transportation (successor to the Chesapeake & Ohio and Western Maryland) wanted rid of these lines during the 1980's and 1990's. 

The WVC currently provides the single, longest trip as patrons are whisked southward from Elkins in climate-controlled cars.  They offer many different excursions and packages throughout the year. 

In addition, the railroad hosts one of the most popular versions of The Polar Express during November and December. 

The trains board at the restored Western Maryland depot in Elkins with the journey lasting about an hour.  


National Railroad Museum:  The National Railroad Museum located in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin (near Green Bay) was founded in 1956 by a group of train enthusiasts who wished to launch a museum on a national scope. 

Their first addition was Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 #261, which has since been sold to the "Friends Of The 261."  This organization has transformed the steam locomotive into a nationally recognized icon as it annually hosts excursions across the Midwest. 

The National Railroad Museum (NRM) earned its "national" moniker in 1958 when Congress recognize it as the country's official railroad museum and provided it with needed funding. 

Today, NRM features an impressive list of preserved locomotives, some of which are featured inside climate-controlled buildings.  Among their many steam locomotives on display is London & North Eastern 4-6-2 #60008, a famous Class A-4 from Britain. 

The list of things available are many including train rides, corporate events, theater presentations, group tours, weddings, depots, and more.  NRM is among the nation's best railroad museums and well worth the visit. 

They will host official The Polar Express train rides from mid-November through early DecemberTo learn more please visit their website.  

The Polar Express Dates: 


No events yet known.


Alberta Prairie Railway:  This attraction is located in Stettler, Alberta offering steam and diesel powered trips which last up to 5 or 6 hours to Big Valley!  They offer numerous amenities, from on-board meals to murder mystery specials. 

One of their special events are official The Polar Express excursions. 

The Polar Express Dates: 

Aspen Crossing Railway:  This excursion train, based in Mossleigh, Alberta, will host official The Polar Express excursions.  

The Polar Express Dates: 

West Coast Railway Heritage Park:  Located in Vancouver, British Columbia and established in 1961 the WCRA's mission is to preserve Canada's railroad history through restoration and preservation.  

They maintain the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, British Columbia which includes a total of 12 acres that features, among other attractions, a station and Canadian National roundhouse.

Waterloo Central Railway:  This heritage railroad began service in 2007, operated by the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society (SOLRS) and owned by the Region of Waterloo.

It utilizes a section of the former Canadian National between Elmira and Kitchener, Ontario.  For the first time in 2017 they hosted official The Polar Express events.

York–Durham Heritage Railway: This heritage railway is located above Toronto in the both the York and Durham Regions.  It was originally built as the Toronto & Nipissing Railway to a gauge of 3 foot, 6-inches, later widened to standard gauge in 1883. 

It became part of the Canadian National in 1923.  Since 1996 it has operated about 12 miles between Uxbridge and Stouffville.

Virginia & Truckee 2-8-0 #29 steams through the snow south of Virginia City, Nevada with a chartered photo special on March 2, 2010. Drew Jacksich photo.

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!).  

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