America By Rail Blog

posted on August 01, 2012

Trains play a different role in each of our lives. For suburbanites living outside the city, trains are often the most economical way to commute to and from work. For others, a train vacation might be the most ideal way to travel somewhere new. Miniature and model trains are also a favorite hobby for people of all ages. You may not remember it, but your Mom or Dad may have even used a train to make you open up for a spoon or forkful of food as a baby! Trains have more influence in our lives than we often realize— especially fictional trains. Below is a list of famous fictional trains that likely impacted your life at one point or another. Which one are you most fond of?

The Polar Express

The Polar Express, filled with chocolate and candy heading to the North Pole, is any kid’s dream! The famous locomotive train gained its popularity as a classic Christmas story. The tale begins with a boy, anxiously waiting for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve, who hears the whistle of a train. As the train pulls closer, the conductor invites the boy aboard The Polar Express on a journey to the North Pole. When the train arrives at its destination, the boy is greeted by Santa and his elves. They choose him to receive the first gift of Christmas. The boy asks for a bell from one of the reindeer’s harnesses, which he tucks into his robe pocket. As the boy is riding The Polar Express home after his magical adventure, he notices a hole in his pocket that the bell has fallen out of. Santa discovers the bell in the seat of his sleigh and adds it to the boy’s presents under the tree. The bell is just as famous as the Polar Express because it only rings for those who truly believe. 

The Little Engine That Could

The Little Engine That Could is famous for its motto: I think I can. As an eminent children’s story, The Little Engine That Could teaches children about optimism and hard work. In the story, a stranded long train needs help getting over a high mountain. After all the other engines refuse to help, the Little Blue Engine is the only one willing to try. Chugging and puffing as hard as possible, the anthropomorphic locomotive continuously repeats “I think I can, I think I can” until he makes it over the mountain. While small details in The Little Engine That Could have been modified over the years, such as the stranded train carrying toys and food for children across the mountain, the story’s classic message has remained the same.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Tank Engine, a blue steam locomotive with red lining and the number one, came to life in The Railway Series books. Appearing in the second book, Thomas the Tank Engine became one of the most beloved characters in the series. Thomas the Tank Engine truly became famous when he captured children’s attention around the world with a television series. Beginning in 1984, Thomas and Friends first appeared on television screens in the United Kingdom and later took over United States televisions in 1989 as Shining Time Station. Playing a role in children’s lives everywhere, the steam locomotive is by far one of the most famous fictional trains.

Hogwarts Express

Famous from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, the Hogwarts Express is a fictional secret steam train. The train runs from London’s King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade Station. The Hogwarts Express leaves promptly at 11:00am on September 1st from Platform 9¾ filled with students heading off to Hogwarts Castle for boarding school each year. The magical steam train transports students to and from Hogwarts at the start and end of each term. With the popularity of Harry Potter, there are more than a few students who would love to be aboard the Hogwarts Express heading to Hogwarts rather than traditional school every fall!

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