Vice president of academic affairs, Ian Wilson, and his family were among the passengers on the 95-year-old train. “They’ve been very supportive of UVU,” he said.
Mike Walker, student, had his 3-year-old son, Xander, on board. Xander loves trains, and the train was packed with children excited as he was. Music filled the cars with everything from Bing Crosby and One Direction to Village People.
Mark Nelson, executive director of the railroad, was singing along with the kids and spraying whipped cream into waiting mouths.
“Residents of Wasatch County love the train,” Nelson said. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. We just help each other.”
In an effort to do just that, the railroad has promised $5 tickets every Monday night. They hope families will bring their children out to enjoy the old trains and that students will use it as an option for an inexpensive date. The plan seems to be working.
“I said train, and the kids came running,” said Scott Phillip, father and UVU student.
Alex and Kylee, also students at UVU’s Wasatch campus, used the opportunity for a date. “We always do stuff like this. It’s just fun. If you come, bring a blanket to snuggle and your singing voices,” they said.
The Heber Valley Historic Railroad has been taking passengers for rides on the old trains through the majestic mountains and sprawling vistas of the beautiful Heber Valley for over 100 years. The train is a large part of the Heber Valley economy, bringing in over $2 million a year. The railroad gives back to the community, providing salaries. During the North Pole Express, the biggest event of the year, the railroad employs 100 people.
This fall the railroad will add a steam locomotive, one of about 150 left in the country, many of which will never be brought back to working condition.
“There is something magic about a steam locomotive,” Nelson said. “We want to preserve that for your children.”