LOGANSPORT – The Indiana Transportation Museum will not be able to offer holiday excursions on the Polar Bear Express this year, according to a press release from Logansport’s Mayor Dave Kitchell’s office.
Negotiations between the museum and the company that owns the railroad were unable to reach an agreement on the line.
During the first year of the excursions in 2017, more than 14,000 passengers rode trains with Santa Claus between Kokomo and Logansport. Subsequent Christmas and Easter excursions were held in 2018.
In several previous years, the Noblesville-based museum ran the excursions near the museum there. ITM announced in July 2017 in Logansport that its board had decided to move much of its rolling stock to Logansport.
Kitchell said that the museum is moving forward with plans to have a permanent presence in Logansport. It currently is working with Purdue University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management on a plan for a permanent museum structure in Logansport that would serve as a destination tourism location.
ITM announced in 2017 that it would have a Logansport presence after the City of Noblesville notified the museum that it would no longer permit its operations to remain at a park there.
In 2017, Kitchell had praised the planned rides as a worthwhile effort to attract people to Cass County via “destination tourism.”
“You go to a certain place for a certain reason because it’s there and it’s close to where you are,” Kitchell said of such tourism. For anyone looking for a train excursion during Christmastime, “there’s nothing within a good 50 miles of Logansport, except this option here,” he said.
Trips on the Polar Bear Express originated in both Logansport and Kokomo in 2017 and 2018 and traveled to the town of Lincoln just north of Galveston for a North Pole-themed celebration before heading back to the point of origin. Rides lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, during which passengers got hot chocolate, a cookie and a candy cane. Children also got a small gift from Santa Claus, a holiday-themed story was read to children and riders were able to write a letter to Santa during the excursions.