Photo by Trisha Walker
TRAIN DEPOT in Hood River is where Mt. Hood Railroad’s “Train to Christmas Town” trip starts. Despite the cancellation of “Polar Express,” the tradition continues under a new name.
As of Monday, December 4, 2017
The first evening run of the Mt. Hood Railroad “Train to Christmas Town” derailed late Friday afternoon about four miles south of Hood River, with no injuries.
Four train cars, with about 200 passengers aboard , slid off the tracks but stayed upright, according to MHRR general manager Ron Kaufman.
All weekend “Christmas Town” service is cancelled and riders have been notified. The holiday train is expected to resume service again on its next scheduled weekend date, Dec. 8. (The excursions do not run during the week.)
“We’re grateful no one was hurt, and look forward to providing this fun service to the public again,” Kaufman said. “It’s affects the railroad, but we also know it affects a lot of other businesses in the community.”
Friday’s 5:30 p.m. incident is under investigation by MHRR and state and federal rail authorities, Kaufman said.
Rail crews began track repairs Saturday morning, a process that will take “two or three days,” Kaufman said. Freight service may see some interruption.
On Friday, all passengers were transported by the remaining train cars to the “Christmas Town” destination three miles away in Pine Grove, and taken back to Hood River by bus, courtesy of Hood River County School District. Pine Grove Grange and The Fruit Company, both adjacent to the “Christmas Town” scene, opened their doors for the passengers to wait. Wy’east Fire District volunteers responded along with Hood River County Sheriff’s deputies; local orchardists assisted in getting responders’ access to the derailment site, near Whiskey Creek Road.
Families got a chance to meet Santa on board the train in Pine Grove, and at the MHRR depot.