THOMASTON — One by one, the children riding Saturday’s vintage train through Thomaston climbed off and ran toward what they came for – pumpkins.
The adults had a similar reaction to arriving at the private pumpkin patch after a scenic ride on the Naugatuck Railroad.
The train left the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston, traveled north past the Thomaston dam, and back south to the pumpkin patch before returning to the station. The railroad has been offering the pumpkin patch rides for about 12 years.
“We try to make it a very fun, family-friendly, kid-friendly type experience,” said conductor Matthew Sniffen, who is also the railroad museum’s marketing director.
Passengers on a recent Saturday were greeted at the pumpkin patch by Steve Casey, president of the Railroad Museum of New England. He said it’s always fun to put together projects for families.
Waterbury resident Bianca Madden rode the train with her family, including 3-year-old son Silas. The family has taken rides on the Naugatuck Railroad before, including the Easter and winter holiday rides, but this was their first time on the pumpkin patch outing.
“I love it, it’s so seasonal, it's so photogenic, it’s very scenic,” Madden said. “...I love train rides, and my son does too.”
Sniffen said the chance to ride in vintage rail cars is pretty unique to the area. During the holiday rides first-class passenger cars from the 1800s are used. The rail line travels more than 19 miles from Waterbury to Torrington.
“We have a very unique line … it’s a little bit of everything – you have some river, some open valley, you have some nice relaxing woods,” Sniffen said.
For Carol and Gary Coleman, who live in England, the ride was part of a two-week adventure. Their next stop was Mystic.
“We came in the fall to see the scenery, which is fantastic,” Gary Coleman said.
The museum is run by volunteers. Before visitors board the train they can explore the history of the railroad and surrounding areas in photographs and texts.
“In this modern age of technology, it’s nice just to sit back and relax and enjoy the past,” Sniffen said.
The railroad also offers a seasonal “chocolate decadence” ride with wine and appetizers before a stop at Fascia’s chocolates. There’s also the annual Easter Bunny Express, summer scenic tours and a new Torrington express train. Schedules and tickets can be found online.