Take a trip to the North Pole on the Northwest Pacific Railway

This holiday season rekindle the longstanding fascination of toy trains and locomotives at Christmas during the Northern Pacific Railway’s Toy Train Christmas event in Toppenish.

[blockquote quote=”We have over a hundred volunteers to help make this happen.” source=”Judy Boekholder, event organizer for Northern Pacific Railway’s Toy Train Christmas” align=”right” max_width=”300px”]

The popular event is in its 12th year, and has been growing in popularity. Last year there were nearly 3,000 visitors.

The museum is regularly open from May through October. During the regular season, the museum features displays and exhibits on the history and culture of the Northern Pacific railroad. The museum takes visitors on a journey back to the days of steam-driven locomotives. It features displays on the construction, engineering, and culture behind passenger train cars, taking you on a timeless journey through the traveler’s life of yesteryear, as well as an exciting history of westward expansion.

During the holiday season, museum staff transforms it into a winter wonderland decked in full Christmas cheer. It’s the perfect event for the young and the young at heart.

“When we were kids, about 60 years ago, everybody had toy trains under their Christmas trees. Lionel toy trains were popular back then. We want today’s young kids to receive that experience,” said Judy Boekholder, one of the event organizers. “We had been to several places around the country where toys and trains and Santa come together and we decided we could that here.”

The museum will exhibit 40 model trains with Christmas scenes and ornately decorated Christmas trees. The event is spread across several rooms in the museum and includes a full range of electric trains in operation from the smallest z-gauge to a large garden-scale layout.   Trains range from very old to new models. The event includes a 34½-foot replica of the Northern Pacific North Coast Limited that traveled from Chicago to Seattle up until the ‘60s.

There will be many hands-on activities, including crafts projects and a caboose full of toy trains designed for younger children to play with. There will also be milk and cookies as a treat.

The highlight of the event for visitors is riding the caboose down to the “North Pole” to visit with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

“We run a train with two cabooses. We take our cars to the far end part of the property where kids can go visit Santa Claus, tell him their wish list and get pictures taken,” said Boekholder. “The other train takes them back to the depot, the caboose to the North Pole makes a trip every 15 to 20 minutes.”

The museum attracts people from all over the Pacific Northwest.

“We found that a lot people come back to the Yakima Valley to visit family on Thanksgiving, so we decided to do it then, to give people something to do on the weekend after Thanksgiving, we’ve had people from California, Seattle, Wyoming, Montana, from all over,” said Boekholder.

The event is the museum’s biggest fundraiser and helps keep the museum open throughout the year.

“We have over a hundred volunteers to help make this happen, nobody gets paid, everybody is a volunteer,” said Boekholder.

The event opened Thanksgiving weekend and runs through the first three weekends in December from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

[panel title=”For More Information” style=”info”]
The museum is at 10 South Asotin Ave. in Toppenish. The museum is open from May to October. The regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The museum also has a gift shop that sells books, local gifts and toy train cars. For more information visit www.nprymuseum.org.

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