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Polar Bear Express train rides from Tell City begin Friday

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TELL CITY – All aboard the Polar Bear Express!

A series of Christmas-themed train rides featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus and a festive polar bear, named Snowflake, will begin departing from the Tell City Depot later this month. The excursion rides will venture to the North Pole … Troy actually … and add more steam to a community rail group’s efforts to offer fun train rides throughout the year.

“We are just incredibly excited to partner with a company able to bring thousands of people to Tell City in November and December,” said Betty Cash, Perry County’s convention and visitors bureau director. “The Polar Bear Express is going to be a fantastic way for families to prepare for Christmas, have a lot of fun and experience the thrill of riding a train.”

The Indiana Transportation Museum, which has operated Polar Bear Express rides in central Indiana in past years, is partnering with Scenic Lincoln Way, which in turn has a contract with the Perry County Port Authority to use the rail line when it is not being used to haul freight for industrial and commercial customers.

The port-owned line extends from Tell City to Troy and then into Spencer County to Lincoln City, where it joins Norfolk-Southern’s line. A spur from the main line at Santa Claus extends to the town’s industrial park. Discussions on how to construct depots near Santa Claus and eventually in Lincoln City have been taking place for several years.

Scenic Lincoln Way, whose members represent Perry and Spencer counties, was able to lease passenger cars two years ago to offer excursion rides during Schweizer Fest and other times in 2016.

The Depot is owned by Tell City and houses CVB offices. It was completed in 2013 in hopes train rides would be offered someday as a tourist attraction and was designed to replicate the look of the original Tell City Depot.

The Indiana Transportation Museum has multiple passenger cars, including a bubble-top car that will begin running from Tell City to Troy the Friday after Thanksgiving.

A website with more information and links to tickets will be located at www.polarbear.express. Ticket prices range from $35 to $75.

Volunteers are needed to assist with the rides leaving Tell City, including story-tellers and assistants.

Other themed rides are also planned this year, including an adult Ugly Sweater Ride in December and excursion rides on New Year’s Eve.

For more information, call the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (812) 547-7933.