Strasburg Santa Trains, December 2017

Although the recent annual passenger counts have never come close to their 1980s peaks of half a million, the Strasburg Rail Road, America's oldest shortline (chartered in 1832) does a land-office business at Christmastime, sometimes running more than a dozen trains a day on the weekends, using two engines and as many as 16 or 18 cars.  On the Saturday I visited in early December 2017, the schedule showed eleven trains, at 11, 11:30, noon, 12:30, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 and 7:00, and they ended up adding two extras, at 2:30 and 3:30, to handle the crowds.  I spent part of the day riding in the caboose of the half-hour train ("Train 2") with Santa (he uses it as his office, a place to get away from the passengers and for the elves to prepare their bags of goodies); on Train 1, a baggage car in the middle of the train serves as the two Santas' office.  When the trains pass at Groff's Grove, all of the Santas hide in any convenient closet or bathroom, to eliminate the chance of any child seeing two at once.  Don't tell anyone I told you this.

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