The Waterloo Central Railway is run by a friendly group of volunteers, all of them who appeared to be very knowledgeable about the train and its equipment.
We boarded the train in Waterloo choosing to sit in the vintage 1934 passenger car. Shortly after getting underway, the Conductor checked our tickets and chatted briefly with our 4 year old grandson about trains. Our grandson loved the extra attention.
The conductor advised all the riders that we were welcome to go into the observation area of the car. (Kids MUST be accompanied by an adult) Do go ! It’s fun having a huge open area with the wind blowing through your hair as you ride the rails. It’s a very different experience and perspective than you get from sitting in your seat.
Our train made an un-scheduled stop to pick-up a local Mennonite family to take them to the St. Jacobs market. We were told that this happens on an occasional basis.
The loud blast of the locomotive’s horn delighted all the kids as we crossed the many level crossings along the way. The train passes by many industrial, commercial and residential areas before reaching the farmers fields near St. Jacobs. A live running commentary keeps you informed of what you are passing by, such as the headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM) the makers of the Blackberry, The University of Waterloo, The Waterloo Park & Zoo, amongst other businesses and attractions.
On arrival at the market stop, many people disembarked to go shopping at the Farmer’s Market and the Factory Outlet Mall. A few minutes later we were once again on our way northward towards the Town of St. Jacobs.
We thought that we had arrived at the St. Jacobs stop but were shunted slowly out across a high railway trestle bridge. We looked down into the Conestoga River and to our grandson’s delight, viewed 2 boaters rowing by. They were kind enough to wave back to an excited 4 year old boy !
The train then returned to the St. Jacobs stop. We had time to get off the train and view some of the pieces of railway equipment sitting on the yard tracks, in various stages of repair / restoration. Visitors were welcomed into the diesel locomotive that was pulling our train, or to ask questions about the many items that were under repair or restoration. After 15 minutes we were asked to re-board the train for the return journey to the market and Waterloo.
On arrival back in Waterloo, we toured the caboose and took more photos. The volunteers inside the caboose informed us that it is possible to ride inside the caboose if it was planned ahead of time. For something different, we may try that on our next ride !
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