I hope everybody had a good Christmas Eve, and has a wonderful, merry Christmas Day as well. I’m going to the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul tomorrow to spend Christmas with my family, so this entry will likely be my one and only Christmas-themed entry for the year.
As far as next week is concerned, I’m planning on posting my annual roundup of what I believe were the top 10 most newsworthy stories in the Brainerd Lakes Area in the past year. In all honesty, 2004 was sort of a slow news year around the Brainerd area – I mean, there weren’t any big murders, deaths, of fires – so I might have to do a good deal of pondering to come up with 10 newsworthy stories. Generally, the events I have come with have been close to the “official,” Brainerd Dispatch top 10 list.
Anyway, I’ve got a picture here to help celebrate Christmas. Being the rail enthusiast that I am, and being that I was very angry I missed it in 2003 – when it traveled through Glenwood and Alexandria, MN – I decided to make plans to see the Canadian Pacific’s 2004 Holiday Train. Since 1999, the Canadian Pacific Railway has operated a 10- to 15-car train beautifully decorated in Christmas lights. Two identical trains, both beginning around the first of December, travel throughout much of the Canadian Pacific’s rail network in Canada and the northern United States.
The Holiday Trains make 20- to 30-minute stops along the way in dozens of communities throughout December, raising funds and donations for local organizations, primarily food shelves. The trains also feature music acts, which perform on a stage converted from what used to be a boxcar.
Though Brainerd is situated along a rail line, the tracks that go through the town are not owned by Canadian Pacific. The nearest Canadian Pacific tracks to Brainerd can be found to the south and west of St. Cloud, which is where I went some two weeks ago, on December 13.
The cities where the Holiday Train will stop at are announced weeks in advance, so I had known that the train would be making an appearance in the thriving, bedroom-community of Annandale at roughly 9:30 PM on the 13th. So I immediately planned to go to Annandale – a city of over 2,000 some 20 miles south of St. Cloud – on the evening of the 13th.
While the train was scheduled to arrive in downtown Annandale at 9:30, I soon realized that the time of 9:30 was merely an approximation, an estimate of, ceteris paribus, when the train should show up.
Although I got see the gorgeous Holiday Train in Annandale, my time admiring it was short-lived. I arrived in Annandale at about 9:45 PM, and, right after finding a parking spot right next to the monstrous CP 9772, the train was all packed up and ready to get out of town. It’s a shame, too, since I would have liked to have seen the entertainment and at least donated to the Annandale Food Shelf, which was the local sponsor for the Holiday Train.
I suspect the real reason why the train left earlier than the scheduled 9:55 departure time was due to it holding up an eastbound grain train in the siding at South Haven, some 5 miles to the northwest of Annandale. Canadian Pacific isn’t stupid; they know the real money can be found in grain, not a holiday-themed train representing a community service endeavor.
Anyway, on the way back home, I tried my best to chase the train back to Kimball, about 9 miles northwest of Annandale. I got to the crossing in Kimball just as the gates were going down and the fully-lit train was coming through, but unfortunately, I was unable to get any pictures.
Alas, I only got one picture of the Holiday Train, and the one I do have is sort of blurry and unlike the picture I had planned to compose. Still, the photo does have some appeal to it, which is why I’m presenting it to say Merry Christmas to all who visit my blog.
Click here to read an article about the Holiday Train from the Annandale Advocate, Annandale's local newspaper.