Santa Train – Coopersville & Marne Railway – Day Trip

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Santa Train Coopersville and Marne Railway – December 13, 2014

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The Coopersville and Marne Railway Company has doing excursions and theme train rides since 1990. The volunteer crew takes passengers in 3 historic commuter coaches from the ticket depot in Coopersville to the small town of Marne about 14 miles away. The coaches are pulled by a small switcher diesel locomotive. The little switcher engines are typically used for moving cars and assembling trains in the yard, but it also easily does the job for the short trip. It is quite an interesting experience stepping up into the antique passenger coaches with the help of a crew dressed in vintage railroad attire, really feels like you are going back to a simpler time.

The Coopersville & Marne Railway season starts in the middle of March with the Bunny Theme Train and then ends the weekend before Christmas with the final Santa Train. The train typically runs excursions on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On select dates in July they run the “Great Train Robbery” theme and in October you will find “The Famous Pumpkin Train.” Make sure to visit their website for the complete schedule.

Below you will find the photos and video from our first ride was on the popular Christmas Santa Train. The train was completely full, so reservations for the holiday trips are recommended.

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Waiting for the train to arrive at the depot in Coopersville. We were about 20 minutes early for our 11 am departure. The wind got a little cold while we were waiting, but it could have been a lot worse for the middle of December.

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Finally we heard the bell ringing and the train started slowly moving toward us.

The Santa Train arriving.

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Boarding the train.

Because we had a large group they called us to board first so that we could get seats all by each other.

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Inside coach #1.

The passenger cars are heated and each has a restroom. It was still a little on the cool side for most of the trip, so make sure to dress warm.

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Waiting for the train to depart.

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The kids picked out seats right next to the one that was reserved for santa. This made us the first group to visit the big guy.

Talking with santa.

The santa guy was great, all the kids seemed to like him and he took time to talk with everyone. He was probably one of the best santa’s we have seen….he didn’t smell like beef and cheese or anything.

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Santa even had a big red sack with a little gift for each child. As you can see above, even the ones on the naughty list got something. The girls each got a stuffed animal and the boys got little cars and trucks.

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The view on the south side of the train was mainly of highway I-96. It probably would have looked a little nicer if there was a layer snow covering all the brown grass and road trash.

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It took about 40 minutes to get to the turn-around in Marne. At this stop they uncouple the engine from the front of the train and drive it around and hook it up to the back. It was hard to time the photo because they were moving pretty fast and in no time we were hooked back up and moving again.

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Playing with Thomas while waiting for the train to start heading back to Coopersville.

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The view from north side of the train is mainly fields with some sections of woods. We saw a deer running across this area on the way to Marne. Here is a tip, the seats on the north side have the better view in both directions.

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Pictures on the caboose after arriving back in Coopersville

In all we spent about an hour and a half on the train. The kids all got a little restless on the way back. I think it was partly because it was lunch time and everyone was getting hungry. If we do it again we will have to pack more snacks and water for the trip. It also didn’t help that we had our turn to see santa right at the beginning of the ride. It probably would have been better if the kids had to wait in anticipation a little longer for their turn.

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After the caboose photos we walked across the tracks and went to 327 Pizza and Pub for lunch.

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327 Pizza and Pub is a nice little local restaurant that serves burgers, subs and of course pizza. They also had a few dinner offerings that were mostly deep fried chicken or fish baskets or pasta. Food orders are placed at the counter and then they deliver the food to your table when it is ready. Everyone was hungry so we hurried over and we were lucky to be near the front of the line that formed with everyone from the train.

After placing our order we had to wait quite a while for our food. Everything is prepared in the open kitchen right behind the order counter. We kind of felt bad for the 2 girls that were working back there. Between the 2 of them they had to take orders, answer the phone, prepare the food and deliver it to the tables. It seems like they could have planned better for the rush coming off the Santa Train. However, when the food came out it was all very good. The kids shared a pizza and the adults had burgers and sandwiches. Everyone left full, happy and warmed back up after the cool train ride.

Overall the Santa Train was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning in December. We probably will not do it every year, but if you are in West Michigan you should put it on your list to do at least once. You can find more information on the Santa Train and others at theCoopersville & Marne Railway website.

 

 

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