Kids can catch ‘Little Engine’

News editor

Kids are on a two-track mind these days at Mt. Hood Railroad.

“The Little Engine That Could ‘I Think I Can Rail Tour’” came to town last weekend and returns Friday through Sunday.

The special excursion train rolls out for half-hour rides on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days at the Mt. Hood Railroad.

Besides the ride, kids can greet the clown, bear, elephant, and other faithfully replicated passengers from the classic story by Watty Piper of the undersized engine who finds the confidence — “I think I can, I think I can” — to push the circus train over the hill so it will arrive in time to entertain the children in the next valley.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said conductor James Tuller, “especially when you see the kids who get off the train and come running across the parking lot to hug the characters.” Due to timing and weather, the turnout was lower than seen in the annual “Thomas the Tank Engine” visit, which has a similar format.

Mt. Hood Railroad manager Michelle Marquardt said that while passengers were having fun, two factors may have kept crowds lighter than hoped: the fact that it was the first weekend after school started for most Oregon and Washington schools, and damp weather.

Rain fell part of Saturday, though Sunday’s conditions were optimal.

Marquardt said that a representative of sponsoring Rail Events, Inc, “told us we have the most professionally done ‘Little Engine’ of any on the tour.”

The tour is in its first year, so it will build momentum, she said. Marquardt is hopeful that Hood River will receive earlier dates next year to attract more summer visitors.

This weekend the youth marimba band Zinindika of Hood River County will return with their danceable rhythms from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Children can also take home a balloon animal and enjoy a petting zoo and other fun activities. Tickets for the train ride cost $15 for anyone two and over; for reservations, call (800) 872-4661 or order online at:

www.mthoodrr.com.

Tickets are also available at the Mt. Hood Railroad depot

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