Thomas still proves popular in 12th annual visit to Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2016 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – Thomas the Tank Engine gets a wave as the train heads out for its final 25-minute ride today at about 5:30 p.m. About 2,500 people rode the train today.

Thomas returned to Medina last week for the 12th annual event. He will be in Medina on Sunday for the final day of this year’s “Day Out With Thomas” at the Medina Railroad Museum. About 9,000 people are expected to ride the train during his four days in Medina this year.

Viennah, 1, is held by Josh Nickerson of Gerry, near Jamestown, while the bubble machine generates lots of bubbles at the Thomas event today at the Medina Railroad Museum. In addition to riding the train, there was numerous activities at the museum and on its grounds for children.

Sir Topham Hatt, one of the characters in the Thomas children’s show, meets with some the visitors to the museum at the Day Out with Thomas.

David Murphy, engineer on the Thomas train, waves to the crowd as the train departs for a 25-minute ride.

Cody Catlin of Carlton welcomed riders to the train, which includes five railroad coaches from 1946-1947. The WNY Railway Historical Society owns the coaches.

Some of the young riders peer out the windows and wave from the train.

Hugh James, treasurer for the Medina Railroad Museum, is pictured at the front of a maze he designed in 2005, when Thomas first came to Medina. The “Sodor Engine House Maze” is a substitute for a hay bale maze. Volunteers set up the Thomas maze with 96 fence posts.

James said the Thomas event provides critical revenue to keep the Railroad Museum operating throughout the year.

“Thomas was a life-saver,” James said. Revenue from the Thomas event also helped pay for a new roof on the 301-foot-long museum building, a former freight house.

The Thomas event remains popular, but attendance is down from the 18,000 in 2005 when the event was packed for six days. James said about 60 to 70 volunteers and paid staff help run the Thomas event.

The museum also runs Polar Express rides close to Christmas that have about 11,000 riders. The museum also has many other excursion trips throughout the year. Click here for more information.

Thomas continues to be a big draw for the museum. Most of the riders are from Buffalo and Rochester, with a small percentage from Orleans County.