PHOTO GALLERY: Columbia Star Dinner Train
Friday, December 16, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST;
updated 7:32 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 18, 2011
COLUMBIA — The Columbia Star Dinner Train recalls a bit of Columbia's railroad history. The Wabash Railroad began running through town in the mid-1800s but disappeared decades ago. Its name, however, lives on; "1951 Wabash" is emblazoned in light blue on the dinner train's locomotives.
The dinner train takes passengers to Centralia and back on the city's COLT rail line.
Shane Riley is the primary engineer for the Columbia Star Dinner Train, which takes passengers on a three-hour ride down Columbia's only railroad track to Centralia and back on the weekends. Riley works for the city of Columbia as a railroad maintenance specialist during the week, and works weekends driving the dinner train.
Passengers take their seats in the "Winter Wonderland" car of the Columbia Star Dinner Train on Dec. 10. Each car has been lined with lights and other holiday decorations.
Shane Riley preps the dinner train's 1950's diesel-electric engine before driving a Sunday trip. He said that he likes working on the train because it allows him to work with older engines.
Shane Riley climbs the dinner train's main locomotive as he gets ready to take off on a night trip to Centralia.
Shane Riley has been operating the dinner train on weekends since it began running on Columbia's track last spring. He often waves to passersby as the train makes it way to Hallsville on Sundays. Sunday trips are shorter than Friday and Saturday night rides.
The Columbia Star Dinner Train pulls out from North Columbia at 7 p.m. on Dec. 10. The train will travel to Centralia and return at 10 p.m.
Shane Riley has to make sure that the train complies with the Federal Railroad Administration's standards before and after each trip. He marks a time card before this trip to Centralia.
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