Last day for ‘live steam’
hen the Santa Train rolled along South Carson Street at the Nevada State Railroad Museum on Saturday, almost every passing driver smiled, honked and waved. Waving back at them from the caboose were Ron McKimmy and Barbara Reed in their Western costumes.
“They think I’m Mrs. Claus,” giggled Reed, who plays the part of Carson Cate.
Inside the train Mr. Claus was making his way through cars packed with families, handing out candy canes. Santa Train rides, as well as museum admission, are free this weekend.
“This is a way of thanking all the people who have come down throughout the year,” said McKimmy, wearing the badge and cowboy hat of his character, Lone Pine Lawman. At the front of the train, the 1882, Cooke-built locomotive’s whistle sounded twice.
“This is the last weekend for live steam,” McKimmy
said. “We won’t run the trains again until Armed Forces Day in May.”
Bad news for 4-year-old train lover Bryce Paolini. He rode the train once Saturday then waited in line again with grandma so he could ride in the caboose. Unfortunately, it filled up just before he got on.
“I want to ride the red car,” he said softly, big, wet tears spilling from his eye lids.
Bryan Berry, a member of the Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum with almost 4,000 volunteer hours, promised to get him on the next run.
This year, just like the last three, Santa is played by Nick McGahvey. He wears a real yak-fur beard, black cowboy boots and an authentic outfit sewed by his wife, Robin.
But there’s more to the Santa Train weekend than just one train and Old Saint Nick.
There’s a whole museum full of polished antique steam engines, the annex full of works in progress, the gift shop, a raffle for free books for the kids. The books, “Teddy Bear’s Trick or Treat,” were donated by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and Scholastic Publishing, said John Frink, program coordinator for the museum.
Michelle Stanton, 10, and Sophia Young, 5, were crouched on the newly refinished platform of the station reading the book.
“It’s a good book,” said Michelle while tugging on a pop-up spider web. “I like it.”
Seven-year-old Quinn Richards was having plenty of fun just throwing himself down the grassy slope in front of the museum. He’d tumble down like a stunt man, lay still, then when grandma inquired he’d jump up and say, “I’m OK, I’m OK.”
His great-grandfather, Will Wieprecht, sat in a thick corduroy jacket. Now 85, Wieprecht has a brick on the porch wishing him a happy 75th birthday. It was Wieprecht who designed the blue and silver historic markers along Nevada’s highways.
He and four generations of his family were headed to the mall and then to Red’s Old 395 Grill for hot chocolate. “If my legs hold out,” he laughed.
Meanwhile the Old No. 8 – that 1882, Cooke-built locomotive towing the Santa Train – made another loop around the grounds.
“It is a classic, American Standard 4-4-0,” said Frink.
The Santa Train runs free of charge from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Nevada State Railroad Museum at 2180 South Carson Street. Call 687-6953.
Contact Karl Horeis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.