Nickel Plate Express fundraising to repair locomotive

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A local initiative is under way to restore Locomotive 426 for the Nickel Plate Express.

Nickel Plate Express leaders want to raise $12,000 for engine repairs. The Nickel Plate Express operates with a 1956 diesel locomotive.

“Almost all railroads have two locomotives. For our train, we want locomotives at each end. It’s really important to have that second power mode to use other than the one locomotive we have right now,” said Dagny Zupin, director of the Nickel Plate Express. “But more importantly, this locomotive (426) has been in Hamilton County since 2001, so people are used to seeing it go through Noblesville, and they’re used to hearing it. People are fond of it, so it I think it would be awesome to bring that memory back for the people of Noblesville.”

Zupin said the goal is to raise the money and repair the engine before the holiday season ends in order to use the locomotive for the annual Reindeer Ride, which began Nov. 23. The Reindeer Ride is offered each Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 22.

“The Reindeer Ride is our version of the Polar Express. It’s a really fun holiday experience for families,” Zupin said. “This year, we are boarding out of Noblesville for the first time.”

In previous years, the Reindeer Ride boarded out of downtown Atlanta, but now it will board in Forest Park, 701 Cicero Rd. Noblesville businesses welcome the change.

“The businesses downtown have been super-great. Almost all of them are offering deals where you bring a train ticket in (and get a discount),” Zupin said. “That has been really encouraging to see the Noblesville businesses are welcoming it.”

Local businesses are doing more than offering discounts. Some are assisting in the Nickel Plate Express’ fundraising efforts to repair the Locomotive 426. Noble Coffee and Tea, 933 Logan St., is offering a special coffee blend called Full Throttle, in which 25 percent of proceeds go to 426 restoration efforts. Full Throttle is a medium roast with notes of caramel, peanut and chocolate.

Cafes or restaurants interested in brewing the Full Throttle blend should contact Noble Coffee and Tea co-owner Robyn Littler at robyn@noblecoffeeandtea.com.

This year, the Reindeer Ride will be decorated in 10,000 Christmas lights donated by Gaylor Electric.

“Our train cars are 16 feet tall, and they have all these beautiful LED Christmas lights on them,” Zupin said. “Even people not riding the train appreciate that because they’re waiting in their cars for the train to pass and they get to see this beautiful light display.”

Reindeer Ride tickets are $30 for kids and $35 for adults. The ride is 1 hour and 15 minutes, roundtrip. Children are told a short story during the ride. They can sing carols and hot chocolate and sugar cookies will be available. Santa comes through the train and gives a gift to each child. At the halfway point in Arcadia, a 150-year-old train depot has been decorated in Christmas lights, also donated by Gaylor Electric. It will portray Santa’s Workshop. As the train travels by, elves come out and wave.

For more or to donate, visit nickelplateexpress.com/426.

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