For the past year, our region has enjoyed a rare treat – the St. Marys Express – which offers family-friendly, open air train rides from time to time with fun themes and actors on board to bring the themes to life.
But this month brought a new first to our area: rides aboard a train pulled by a genuine steam locomotive. Kingsland mom Marissa Velasquez enjoyed a ride on the train with her son and shares her experience here. ~ Mamamelia
The Lehigh Valley Coal #126 steam engine, Sadie, was built in the 1930s and used as an “Iron Horse” in the coal mines many years ago. She was granted new life – restored to her original state – and now travels all around the country to promote railroad history. This month, St. Marys was lucky enough to get a visit from this wonderful piece of history!
Sadie will give rides to the public on Oct. 11 and 12 (tickets are completely sold out, but tickets are now on sale for the Santa Express, coming in November and December). My son and I were lucky enough to snag a seat on one of the train cars being pulled by Sadie, and we could not wait for our ride aboard the “choo-choo!” (Yes, I have a toddler! )
Our adventure began at the Theatre by the Trax (1000 Osborne Street, St. Marys, Georgia). As we approached the steam locomotive, I, a self-proclaimed history buff, was taken back into history for a brief moment and was completely fascinated by this beautifully preserved piece of it.
Sadie bellowed out a high-pitched whistle and blew off some of her steam (to a pressure of 150-180 PSI!) which my 18-month-old, to be very honest, was quite startled by. Gradually, he got used to the sounds and happily boarded the train car on his own. The whistles and steam let-off are not nearly as loud during the actual ride as they are when you are standing right by them. If you are bringing young toddlers I suggest keeping them a good distance away from the actual engine in order to avoid those loud sounds hitting their little ears. Older kids will probably love it, however!
You will board onto an open air train car with a large wooden bench situated in the center facing either side – they provide you with optimal seating to enjoy the view! The train conductor will be the last to board and will give you a friendly welcome, then dazzle you with facts and stories during your ride of not only the engine, but also with some St. Marys history too. Get your camera ready for some breath-taking shots of the surrounding marshlands you will steam through on your journey back in time! Actors portraying real-life railroaders from back in the day will greet you at the stopping point and share their part in locomotive history. Then you will enjoy a peaceful, and did I mention scenic, ride back to the station.
Although the history went right over my young son’s head, he truly enjoyed the ride, making this the ideal activity for the whole family. Young children will get a kick out of riding on a train and older kids and adults will be able to marvel at not only the ride itself, but also the history of this steam engine. You definitely do not have to be a train fanatic to appreciate this whole experience.
The last day to ride aboard the train pulled by Sadie is Oct. 12, and tickets are sold out. St. Marys Express will open its doors, or should I say train cars, once more this year for the Santa Express running Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. On that ride you will journey to Santa’s Village to meet the big man from up North in person and will be able to enjoy Christmas entertainment along the way. (See Mamamelia’s review and pics from last year’s Santa Express by clicking here.) This is sure to be an event you will not want to miss! St. Marys Express is a special experience that all ages are able to partake in, and will surely make for a magical family day out. It is truly a must-do activity in this town!
If you’re interested:
When: Various dates throughout the year (usually Saturdays) with departures at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
Where: Excursions always begin at Theatre by the Trax, 1000 Osborne Street, St. Marys, GA 31558
Cost: Below are the costs, and then a $3 processing fee and sales tax will be added to your total.
- Open Air Railcar Rides: Adults $17, Children (3-12) $11, Children under 2 FREE
- Locomotive Rides : $50 per person, limit 2 people in the Locomotive
- Caboose Rides Limited to 24 passengers $25