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Niles Canyon Railway “Train of Lights” 2009

December 5, 2009

Of all the fun things to do during the holidays, from parties to shopping, to visiting family, the one thing I look the most forward to is a train ride on a Santa Train of some kind.  Normally we would go to Old Town Sacramento and ride the from the old depot there.  However, this year, being already in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving, we decided to try something different.

We pulled up to the Niles Depot of the Niles Canyon Railway operated by the Pacific Locomotive Association on Friday evening in time to get our tickets and board the 2009 “Train of Lights”.  The railway runs two trains, one departing either end of the line and meeting at about the half way mark of the beautiful scenic rail line that was once part of the transcontinental route.

Niles Depot


The train pulled into the station about fifteen minues prior to departure.  Each end of our train boasted it’s own locomitve, allowing for the train to be push/pulled along the route from Niles to Sunol and back.  At the East end of our train was an open topped car.  Then a passenger coach, followed by a combine where hot coco, soup, and other treats were avaliable, another coach, and a dome car finished the consist.  Everything was decked out in holiday lights and decorations, inside and out.

Pulling into Niles


Lighted conductor

The ride was fantastic.  We rode from Niles to Sunol in one of the coaches.  Then after a short stop, we rode back to Niles on the open car.

Out the window

Open car

In Sunol

If you have the opportunity to ride the Niles Canyon Railway on one of the operating weekends, you’re in for a treat as you pass the yard where the vintage locmotives and rolling stock are kept and worked on.  We could only really see the equipment that was close to the mainline as we passed.

Widow in the yard

Part of the train ride is a visit from Santa!  He visited our train first, and then crossed to the Sunol, Niles, Sunol train as it passed us.

Passing trains

Family train rides are a great way to introduce kids to the joys of trains of any size.  We intend to make riding the “Train of Lights” part of our holiday tradition in years to come.  If you get a chance to ride it, or another train in your area, make it part of your holiday traditions as well.


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