Thomas the Tank Engine chugs into southwest Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thomas the Tank Engine chugs into southwest Georgia

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October 16, 2007

Cordele--In just a few short days, The SAM Shortline Excursion train will celebrate its birthday. The popular train will turn five years old on October 22nd.  And to celebrate that milestone, organizers are planning a number of activities.

Starting Friday, the general public will have an opportunity to enjoy live entertainment, food, wildlife exhibits, and very special guest Thomas the Tank engine.

"We're the only operation in Georgia hosting a day out with Thomas event," says chief conductor, Lee Kinnamon.

Kinnamon says that's a pretty big deal.  "Thomas just doesn't go anywhere. Your railroad operation has to meet pretty rigorous and rigid critieria," he says.

Starting October 19, the popular train will help celebrate the fifth anniversary of the SAM shortline excursion train. "The event will include train rides with Thomas, of course, pulling the train," he says.

It will give visitors a chance to experience the culture of southwest Georgia. "SAM shortline is a rolling state park.  We provide interpretation of local historic sites, agriculture, history, our cuisine, every thing," he says.

Every year, the train attracts about 27,000 riders---some traveling hundreds of miles.

"The average distance they found through marketing reseach is about 130 miles. But we have people coming as far several hundred miles, 200 or 300 miles," he says.

The excursion train provides visitors with an entertaining way to tour historical landmarks in southwest Georgia.  "The train is a fun way to see the sites. It brings back a lot of good memories for older Americans and it introduces children to the love of trains," he says.

And as Thomas rolls into town, organizers are hoping for a big turnout from the community.  "We encourage families to come out and experience a day on the railroad," he says.

Now Thomas will be in town for several days for the SAM shortline excursion train celebration.

Here are a look at those dates: Thomas is set to roll into the SAM Shortline Excursion Train at the Georgia Veteran's State Park in Cordele from October 19th-21st and October 26th-28th.

For ticket information, you can Ticketweb toll-free at 1-866-468-7630.

Today, the former president will be joined by more than 150 children from southwest Georgia to welcome Thomas on his first visit to Georgia.  We'll have highlights from Carter's visit with Thomas later today.

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