Santa Claus Rides the Rails

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

SPENCER ó A visit from the Jolly Old Elf is an annual tradition at the N.C. Transportation Museum . Santa Claus will park his sleigh each weekend before Christmas and ride the rails..
One of the museum’s most popular offerings is Santa Train. Each Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, Santa Claus will arrive at the Barber Junction Visitor’s Center aboard an antique fire truck. Greeting children and parents alike, the man in the big red suit will board the train for a ride around the N.C. Transportation Museum’s 57 acre site.During the ride, Santa Claus and his helpers hand out oranges and candy canes, a Southern Railway tradition. It was during the Great Depression that children would gather alongside the railroad line as Southern Railway trains passed by. Engineers and employees of the Southern Railway would hand out oranges for Christmas. During such difficult times, it was a true treat for these children. Oranges were often unavailable in the off season.
For some of these children, it was also the only gift they received. The N.C. Transportation Museum honors the tradition, while celebrating the holidays with a fun and festive train ride.
Santa Train rolls out Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20. Saturday train ride times are 10, 10:45 and 11:30 a.m.; 1, 1:45, 2:30 and 3:15 p.m. Sunday train rides are at 1:30, 2:15, 3 and 3:45 p.m. Tickets are only available on the day of the event. Arrive early to make sure you have a seat.
Santa Train tickets are $7 per person or $6 per person with the donation of an unwrapped gift for needy children. Children younger than three who can sit on a guardian’s lap for the length of the train ride do not need a ticket to ride the train.
Cookies and Cocoa with Santa features a rare experience at the N.C. Transportation Museum, with nighttime train rides. The Cookies and Cocoa train starts at the Barber Junction Visitor’s Center, giving passengers nighttime views of the town of Spencer and the museum’s 57 acres.
The train then stops at the Bob Julian Roundhouse for a visit with Santa Claus. Kids can tell Santa what they want for Christmas, hear stories read by one of Santa’s helpers and enjoy a tasty treat.
Cookies and Cocoa with Santa is selling out quickly. Limited tickets are still available for Dec. 5, 18 and 19. Train ride times are 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. tickets are only available in advance, either online at, or by calling Vickie Peacock, at 704-636-2889 ext. 232. Tickets are $10 per person. Children younger than three may sit on a guardian’s lap for the length of the train ride and do not need a ticket to ride the train. Member discounts do not apply to this event.
Weekdays in December, school groups will be taking special seasonal train rides. Jingle Bell Express rolls out Tuesday-Friday each week before Christmas. Students will receive their own golden ticket and jingle bell. The train ride features a Christmas story and holiday music.
Jingle Bell Express is intended only for school groups and registration is required. For more information, teachers can call Vickie Peacock, at 704-636-2889 ext. 232.