Milwaukee Road 261 to begin ‘North Pole Express’ train rides in December
The “North Pole Express” train rides will operate multiple rides each day during Dec. 5-7 and 11-14 .
Tickets are now on sale a for a series of short excursions that Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 will pull around the grounds of the St. Paul Union Depot in December.
This will be the first time a steam locomotive has operated out of the Union Depot in St. Paul since the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy ran excursions with 4-8-4 No. 5632 in the early 1960s.
MILW No. 261 will pull four-car trains with a conventional coach, two former Metra gallery commuter cars, and a conventional lounge car, which will also provide electrical power for the train. The trips will travel a short distance from the loading platform to the east end of the depot property, where a stage will be set up and Santa Claus will board the train to visit with children. At the conclusion of the ride children will be served hot chocolate and cookies in the depot waiting room.
This will be a rare winter trip for No. 261. The only time the 1944 Alco performed in the winter since restoration 21 years ago were special trips at Steamtown National Historic Site in the 1990s. In 2013 the train operated a test trip on the Twin Cities & Western after an unusual April snow.
Tickets for the North Pole Express train rides are $19.50 for adults and $17.50 for children. For tickets and information, go to www.261.com.