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November 20, 2012 > Train of Lights

Train of Lights

Submitted By Karen Kadaja

More than two decades ago, a bunch of train enthusiasts decorated a few of their restored railroad cars and took them out for a holiday train ride. The next year, people were waving them down wanting a ride. Thus was born the Train of Lights, now the oldest continuously running holiday train ride in the nation. Over a quarter of a mile long, covered inside and out with thousands of lights, it is one of the Bay Area's most beloved holiday celebrations.

Decorating a train that size both inside and out is no small task. It is a labor of love by hundreds of volunteers beginning right after Labor Day and ends just before Thanksgiving. Dexter Day, a Caltrain Conductor and Tri-Valley resident, is the mastermind behind the Train of Lights; he is better known as Dr. Christmas. The train is decorated by volunteers from all over the Bay Area, including Eric Child from Santa Cruz and Dave Burla from San Leandro. A large volunteer crew also operates train. Livermore resident Alan Frank prepares the restored streamliner for the evening's excursion, and Hugh Tebault of Fremont steps aboard as Conductor. On board Leslie and Charles Smith of San Jose serve up hot drinks.

The Train of Lights runs from November 23 through December 30 on the Niles Canyon Railway, departing at 4:30 p.m. from Niles (Fremont), and 7:30 p.m. from Sunol. Tickets are $17- $40 per seat and are available at New this year is special reserved seating on the historic dome lounge car from the Santa Fe Super Chief with the best views of the canyon and the train's thousands of lights. Proceeds from the Train of Lights benefit the nonprofit museum dedicated to preserving local railroad history.

Based in Sunol, the Niles Canyon Railway is an operating railroad museum preserving a segment of the original transcontinental railroad and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Train of Lights is sponsored by the Pacific Locomotive Association.

Train of Lights
Nov 23 - Dec 30
4:30 p.m. Niles departure
Niles Station
37001 Mission Blvd., Fremont
7:30 p.m. Sunol departure
Sunol Depot
6 Kilkare Rd., Sunol
(925) 862-9063

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