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A Day Out With Thomas / Blackberry Farm Railroad / Scenes From Seattle

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Program 130
A Day Out With Thomas / Blackberry Farm Railroad / Scenes From Seattle

This program is a little different and one our younger views should really like.

The idea for Thomas The Tank Engine was actually conceived the 1940's by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry. He created Thomas, his boss Sir Topham Hatt, and the other engines on the island of Sodor to entertain his son Christopher, who was recovering from scarlet fever. In 1984, Thomas and his friends were introduced to a whole new generation of kids through the acclaimed television series, "Shining Time Station". The success of the TV show eventually led to the release of a feature length movie in year 2000. It was for that movie that the full-size Thomas The Tank Engine was constructed.

Located on the west side of Aurora, Illinois, Historic Blackberry Farm and Pioneer Village has been entertaining children and their families for years. Operated by the Fox Valley Park District, Blackberry Farm features a number of different rides, displays and exhibits. But when entering the park, the first thing visitors' encounter is the miniature railroad encircling Lake Gregory.

When the opportunity came up for Trackside host Dave Reed to travel to Seattle, Washington on a short trip to visit a friend, he grabbed my camcorder and headed for the airport. This program concludes with what he found when he took a quick spin around town and down Puget Sound to nearby Tacoma.

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Our hero, Thomas the Tank Engine, heads down the demonstration railroad at the Illinois Railway Museum. This is the real Thomas that operates under it's own power. Today the IRM's Thomas is actually pushed by a locomotive coupled onto the back train.

Instead of Annie and Clarabel, Thomas pulled a train consisting of ex-Lackawanna and Rock Island commuter coaches.

Blackberry Farm has almost 1,000 young visitors everyday and one of the first they see is the tracks and the tunnel. So a lot of them run to ride the train.

The train was built by Chance Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas, a well-known builder of amusement park rides. The Blackberry Farm locomotive is actually a 1/3-size model of the C.P. Huntington, a 4-2-4 locomotive acquired by the Central Pacific in 1864.

The 24-gauge track at Blackberry consists of rail that came from a silver mine in Utah. The ties are the same that a real railroad uses, albeit cut in half.



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