Event Will Replace Popular ‘Santa Holiday Train’ and ‘The Polar Express’ Events This Year as Track Repairs Remain Unfinished 

‘Santa’s Grinchy Train’ Launches at the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum Depot


With track repairs still underway and a lack of insurance further halting its passenger services, the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum (CCRM) is holding “Santa’s Grinchy Train” at the depot this holiday season. 

“We’ve decided to ‘blame the Grinch’ for stealing our tracks,” wrote CCRM in a news release. “Since we can't take our train to the North Pole this year, Santa and the Grinch will celebrate ‘Santa’s Grinchy Train’ on the train — at the depot!” 

Passengers will be invited to sing holiday songs and enjoy candy canes, cocoa and cookies while kids write letters to give to Santa, who will be strolling through the decorated 1920s passenger coach. 

Those with a watchful eye could see the Grinch lingering nearby “to try and steal your fun away,” according to the news release. 

Santa and the Grinch will be available for photos at the depot. 

The stationary train event opens Nov. 26, with 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. start times every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 18. Tickets are $16 each, with kids 2-years-old and under riding free. 

Passengers will also have exclusive access to the depot gift shop, which offers a variety of ornaments, toys and gift items, according to a news release. 

Tickets are available online at https://steamtrainride.com/santa-train-ride/. Attendees are asked to arrive half an hour prior to the start time. Free parking is available.

The event is a fundraiser for CCRM as it works to finish repairing the mile of track that sustained flood damage in January and reapplies for full insurance coverage. 

CCRM President Mary Kay Nelson told The Chronicle in September that it had received a Small Business Administration loan and a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund repair work for the track and at that time, Nelson said she hoped to have everything in place to run the Polar Express in December; but Nelson told The Chronicle in October that CCRM didn’t anticipate finishing track repairs in time to run its two usual holiday trains — the Santa Holiday Train and the Polar Express — this year. 

CCRM shut down all revenue-generating passenger operations in early March after it lost its liability insurance coverage. Nelson has previously told The Chronicle that CCRM is waiting to reapply for that insurance until after track repairs are complete. 

CCRM has not released a timeline for finishing track repairs, reacquiring insurance and resuming passenger rail service. 

Meanwhile, CCRM is making the most of the premises-liability insurance coverage it secured in April, which allows railroad workers to return to the site and allows CCRM to hold fundraising events at and around the depot, so long as the trains aren’t moving.

CCRM plans to continue holding stationary events until track repairs are complete and the insurance issue is sorted out.

Santa’s Grinchy Train is CCRM’s fourth stationary train event at the depot. The 1920s train car played host to an “Escape Room Dinner Train” in July, and a “School of Wizardry Express” and a “Pumpkin Train” in October.

The passenger coach provides indoor seating but is unheated, according to CCRM. 

The train depot is located at 1101 Southwest Sylvenus St. in Chehalis, next to the Veterans Memorial Museum off of Interstate 5 at Exit 77. 

Visit https://steamtraderide.com for more information on the railroad and museum.