Posts Tagged ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’

Tooling With Thomas

May 25, 2017

Most railroad photographers give little thought to getting out to photograph Thomas the Tank Engine. I didn’t either until this year.

It is hard to take seriously a pint-sized steam locomotive that’s not really a locomotive but a “shoving platform” that is a cartoon character designed to appeal to children.

I’ve done my share of mocking Thomas by referring to him as “Thomas the tanked engine” and “man, is our Thomas tanked.” The word tanked in this context refers to being intoxicated.

The fictional steam locomotive first appeared in The Railway Series books by British authors Wilbert and Christopher Awdry and later became the star of a television series.

There is nothing small about Thomas, though, when it comes to money. For many tourist railroads, Thomas pulls in badly needed dollars to fund restoration and maintenance work. Trains magazine recently described him as “Thomas the bank engine.”

The Thomas franchise operates worldwide and is worth $1 billion annually in sales.

Since making his first appearance on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in May 1998, Thomas has become the second most popular special event behind the Polar Express – another children’s story – and draws 25,000 to 26,000 passengers a year.

That is far more than who ride behind a real steam locomotive, Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

There are multiple versions of Thomas that tour the United States, often appearing on tourist railroads. One Thomas was converted from a 1916 steam locomotive that served Brooklyn Dock & Terminal in New York City.

Google “Thomas the Tank Engine” and you’ll find that in some quarters there is an intense dislike of Thomas, with one commentator saying the TV program featuring Thomas is filled with messages of classism, sexism and anti-environmentalism bordering on racism.

Other parents have been critical of Thomas by saying he and his friends are nasty, negative and set a bad example for children, particularly in their shirking of their responsibilities, showing off and competing against each other.

Such thinking, though, hasn’t kept Thomas from becoming a superstar among children or kept many parents from taking their children to see and ride behind Thomas.

Earlier this year when I was working on my book about the CVSR, I decided I would get out to see Thomas this year. I wanted to document Thomas because, like him or not, he is a part of the story of the CVSR.

The half-hour Thomas excursions leave from Boston Mill station every hour at half past the hour.

As I approached Boston Mill while driving southbound on Riverview Road, there was a long line of people waiting to get into a large tent, presumably the passengers for the 9:30 a.m. trip.

I knew from reading the CVSR website that various ancillary activities surround the visit of Thomas – most of which are designed to appeal to children – but I was surprised at how much the area around the station resembled a carnival minus the Ferris wheel and tilt-a-wheel rides.

Much of the carnival was located on the west side of Riverview on the property of Boston Mill ski resort. You can’t gain access to the site without a ticket.

So much for my idea of walking around and getting a feel for the Thomas experience.

On every other excursion, Thomas would meet the CVSR National Park Scenic train in Peninsula.

So that was where I waited. At 10:44 a.m., Thomas came steaming into town and went into the siding.

Maybe “steaming” isn’t the right word to use since Thomas is not a live steam locomotive. But he does make smoke, although not consistently.

Thomas has a steam whistle, which isn’t that loud, but it’s a whistle. There is one light on his right side that at first glance resembles a ditch light.

His eyes go back and forth and his mouth moves, too. I didn’t know that Thomas could talk, but he does.

The Thomas specials on the CVSR were being pulled and propelled by CVSR FPA-4 No. 6777. A crew member in the cab of Thomas communicated with the 6777 by radio.

Shortly after the arrival of Thomas and his train, the southbound Scenic arrived. Thomas departed and the Scenic did its station work.

My plan to photograph Thomas next to CVSR 4241 was marred somewhat by people standing in front of Thomas when the Scenic arrived.

A small crowd of onlookers was drawn to Thomas with their smart phone cameras out.

I stayed in Peninsula until the next meet occurred between the Scenic and Thomas. This time the Scenic did its station work before Thomas got there and I was able to get a clearer view of No. 4241 and Thomas. The Scenic left and Thomas followed it out of town a few minutes later.

I had made enough photographs of Thomas, to satisfy my curiosity and to fill a void in my CVSR collection so I left, too.

Thomas takes the siding at Peninsula to allow the CVSR Scenic to pass on the mainline.

Thomas is modeled after a British steam locomotive design.

Here comes Thomas minus his friends.

CVSR crew members have their smart phones out as Thomas chugs into Peninsula for a meet with the CVSR Scenic.

Children aboard the CVSR Scenic get a glimpse of Thomas as the two trains pass in Peninsula.

Thomas steams out of Peninsula to return to Boston Mill.

Thomas Returns to CVSR this Weekend

May 19, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine is returning to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this weekend with trips from Boston Mill station on Saturday and Sunday.

Thomas will make a return visit on May 26-28, also departing from Boston Mill station.

The CVSR said that only those who have purchased Thomas tickets or a site ticket will be allowed into the boarding and festival area at Boston Mill. A site ticket grants admission to the Boston Mill station area, but does not include the half-hour train ride.

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include magicians, bounce houses, balloon artists, live entertainment and railroad displays.

Fares are $18 for all trips on Friday and $20 or $22 for Saturday and Sunday trips.

The $20 tickets are good for the 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. trips.  The $22 tickets are for the 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. trips.

Passengers are advised to arrive at the site an hour before departure time.

Thomas Coming back to the CVSR This Month

May 13, 2015

Thomas the Tank Engine will be making his annual visit to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad on May 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24.

Thomas will be offering trips from the Boston Mill station, located at the intersection of Riverview Road and Boston Mills Road.

Trains will depart hourly, beginning at 9:30 a.m., with the last departure at 4:30 p.m. The ride will be about 30 minutes.

Ticket are $22 per person for departures at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. All other tickets, including all trips on Friday, May 22, will cost $18 per person.

There will be a $5 charge for adults and $2 for children under age 12 who are not riding the train, but wish to visit the event site.

The site will feature activities and entertainment for all ages as well as food vendors. Patrons will not be permitted to bring food, coolers or alcoholic beverages into the event site, which will be open between 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online at http://www.cvsr.com or at the boarding site. They may also be purchased by phone at 866-777-8932.

The boarding site will accept cash or credit cards for ticket purchases, but not personal checks. An ATM will be located at the site.

Thomas Gets New Running Buddy

September 18, 2014

Thomas has a new running buddy at the Strasburg Rail Road in eastern Pennsylvania. He has been joined by Percy, a green pint-sized 0-4-0. Percy made his debut last weekend.

Thomas is, of course, Thomas the Tank Engine. Both locomotives are designed to appeal to children.

Percy weighs 12 tons and can be transported on a standard low-boy trailer. Thomas weighs 55 tones and is too costly to truck to other locations.

Strasburg Vice President Kelly Anderson said the railroad’s design team and shop personnel completed Percy in four-and-a-half months.

“We were still making blueprints as they were assembling the locomotive,” he said. Although a nearby fabrication shop formed the 3/16-inch plate for the design, Strasburg personnel assembled the locomotive.

Percy has bearings and an emergency brake valve similar to those used in cabooses. The new locomotive had some minor issues with its crossheads, but otherwise performed well. Anderson said that Percy drew large crowds last Sunday.

“The train seats 250 and there were always a few left waiting for the next train,” Anderson said. Strasburg assigned former New York Central SW-8 No. 8613 to power Percy’s train from the other end.

CVSR Cancels Service Due to Track Washouts

May 15, 2014
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad patrons wait with their bicycles to board the Scenic train southward at Brecksville. For the time being, the train will only operate to Peninsula due to a track washout near Bath Road. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad patrons wait with their bicycles to board the Scenic train southward at Brecksville. For the time being, the train will only operate to Peninsula due to a track washout near Bath Road. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Flooding that washed out the tracks south of Peninsula has forced the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to cancel the Scenic train that was to operate on Friday, May 16, and to shorten the journey of the Scenic trains this weekend.

The tracks used by the CVSR sustained major damage near Bath Road during the torrential rains and flooding that occurred in the region on Monday.

The CVSR Scenic train will operate as scheduled on Saturday between Rockside Road Station and Peninsula and will include Bike Aboard! service. Scenic train service to Akron Northside station has been suspended indefinitely.

The Thomas the Tank Engine trips and event, though, will go on as scheduled at Boston Mill this Saturday and Sunday (May 17 and 18). The Thomas trips will depart at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Thomas will be back on the CVSR on May 23, 24 and 25.

Tickets for the Thomas train are $18 apiece or $14 for each member of a group of 20 or more. The ticket is good for a 30-minute ride.

For more information, visit www.cvsr.com or call 800-468-4070.

The 26 miles of track used by CVSR trains between Akron and Independence is owned by the National Park Service.

Monday’s washout where Yellow Creek flows under the tracks is not the first. Park officials said the tracks have washed out there previously. This week’s flooding caused the tracks to buckle. and take on a roller coaster profile.

Other damage that occurred in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park included boulders in the roadway on Riverview Road and numerous trees down.

Park visitors can expect to find downed trees, mud and standing water on hiking trails, the park service warned. For Cuyahoga Valley closures, call 440-546-5960.

The flooding forced the closure of the 19.7-mile Towpath Trail in the CVNP due to high water. That includes all trail parking lots.

Thomas to Visit CVSR; Season Passes on Sale

April 10, 2013
A Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train cruises through the Boston Mill station in October 2012. Thomas the Tank Engine will be visiting here in May. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

A Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train cruises through the Boston Mill station in October 2012. Thomas the Tank Engine will be visiting here in May. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Thomas the Tank Engine will return to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad on May 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. Thomas will appear on the tracks at the Boston Mill station north of Peninsula opposite of the Boston Mills ski resort.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by clicking on the following link:

http://www.ticketweb.com/snl/VenueListings.action?venueId=12762&pl=thomas13&REFID=csvr

The CVSR Scenic Train will be running its normal weekend schedule on the days that Thomas is operating

In other news, the CVSR is selling season passes for 2013. The passes are $75 for adults and $38 for children.

The passes are good for any scenic train on any day through Dec. 31. The pass also includes Bike Aboard! travel.

The passes are not valid for special events and may be used for just one excursion during October.

Passengers holding a season pass may use it by taking a photo ID to the departing station ticket booth (Rockside, Akron, Peninsula or Canton) on the day of travel. The ID can also be presented when boarding for Bike Aboard!

Pass holders may upgrade to the dome car Emerson by paying an additional fare. The passes may be purchased by clicking on following link:

http://www.cvsr.com/purchase-tickets?Page=http%3a%2f%2fwhistletix-public.ticketbiscuit.com%2fCVSR%2fEvents%2f149697