In days of old, many children rode the train when traveling. However, the children of newer generations are more familiar with cars and planes. But there is still a slice of romance and intrigue in taking a ride on the train. Today, a train ride is not as common, but you can show your children how it used to be with a ride on one of the engines listed here.
Folsom Valley Railway
50 Natoma St.
Folsom, CA 95630
Folsom Valley Railway has been in operation since 1970 when the Sherman brothers, at the request of Mayor Jack Kipp, built it. One of seven miniature-scale, steam-powered replica railroads still in operation, it is the only 12-inch-gauge railroad remaining in the US. Erich Thompson built the “Cricket” Engine in 1950. Cricket arrived in Folsom in 1970, and has been in full operation since. The open car takes about 10 minutes to cover the distance of the round-trip train ride.
The Fountains Mall
Roseville Parkway and Galleria Blvd.
Roseville, CA 95678
The Fountains Mall in Roseville has a lot to offer on its 2013 Calendar of Events. It has concerts, crafters, a kids’ zone, car show, artisans and train rides on the lineup. While you take a break from shopping, you can let your children ride the train around the mall. The sweet spot is to go shopping on Tuesdays, where the calendar on the website states there are free train rides from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
3901 Land Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95822
To give your wee ones a special treat, where the noise might otherwise be too much on one of the steam engines, you can let them use their imagination on The Little Engine That Could. Maybe take the book along and read it to them as they sit on this train. You could also take pictures of them as they pretend to run the train. There are many other fun things to see at Fairytale Town, so make a day of treating your little ones.
Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum, Inc.
2197 Chase Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Founded in 1965, the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum (SVLSRRM) is a built-to-scale railroad. The SVLSRRM is non-profit and dedicated to the history of the railroad and steam engines. These engines are authentic, built-to-scale functioning steam engines. Rides are offered on the first Saturday and last Sunday of each month, from noon to 4 p.m. Donations are appreciated and help to maintain the tracks. In December, you can ride the train and have pictures taken with Santa Claus.
California State Railroad Museum
125 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
A special treat for children these days is a ride on the Polar Express. This year, the ticket sales go on sale on October 1 at 9 a.m. Polar Express begins its runs Friday, November 23. After that, it runs Wednesdays through Sundays until December 19. Departure times are 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The ticket gives you passage to the Eagle Theater where you can meet Santa and have a photo taken. At the Central Pacific Passenger Station after picking up your tickets, you can shop, enjoy the entertainers or climb aboard the caboose. The one-hour trip will take you to the “North Pole” while the Polar Express story is read and passengers are served hot chocolate and a treat. Before leaving the “North Pole,” Santa will give out silver sleigh bell gifts to each passenger. You are encouraged to wear warm pajamas and bring your copy of the “Polar Express” to have the conductor sign; but wear shoes to walk through the granite soil and on the wooden boardwalks to the station.
Deb Ling is a freelance writer covering all things Sacramento. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.