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Candy Cane Express Provides Festive Train Ride on N. Oregon Coast

Published 12/05/21 at 5:22 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Candy Cane Express Provides Festive Train Ride on N. Oregon Coast

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(Garibaldi, Oregon) – Not all that glitters is gold. Indeed, it is some parts of the Oregon coast that really glow for the holidays, such as one exceptionally cool little train ride. (Courtesy photos)

For two more weekends, you can catch the Candy Cane Express from the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi. The tiny town that's home to big train engines really pulls out the Yuletide stops with a railroad ride that's decorated with Christmas lights and literally filled with holiday cheer. You can't find a more pleasant and upbeat set of surroundings, with dozens of people in antique railcars getting pulled by an old timey steam engine, an atmospheric trip that includes the presence of Santa and plentiful treats.

The Candy Cane Express runs Saturdays and Sundays for the next two weekends (December 11 – 19) at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. on both days. It starts off at Garibaldi and winds through the edges of the Tillamook Bay, into the beach community of Twin Rocks and ending up at Rockaway Beach. The whole trip takes an hour, with everyone climbing aboard at the Garibaldi Depot on the corner of Highway 101 and 3rd Street. Tickets: $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and children ages 2 to 13. They can be purchased at or the reservation line at (855) 562-7711.

That lumbering choo choo with the steam puffing down the track of this part of the north Oregon coast is all covered in lights this time of year, creating a beautiful and festive spectacle in motion.

Carla Lyman, a spokesman for the railroad, said there are seven cars behind that engine.

“Those include the open car (which carries a generator but no passengers), the baggage car where cookies and hot cocoa are prepared, the Historic Wilson River car which is a restored 1920s Pullman passenger car, the covered car which is open air, the 553 and 522 which are 1950s dinning cars, and the Neahkahnie which is a 1910s car which has been converted into a bar car,” she said. “No beverages are served during Candy Cane other than hot cocoa. The caboose remains in Garibaldi during the runs and serves as a gift shop and check in point.”

Due to the pandemic, mask-wearing is the rule, and it's a TSA law since the antique railroad line falls under their jurisdiction just as airlines do.

Lyman said the outside of the cars are decorated by local community organizations, including Port of Garibaldi, Twins Ranch, City of Rockaway Beach, City of Garibaldi, Oregon Coast Bank, and the City of Wheeler.

“Volunteers have decorated the inside of each car,” Lyman said. “Santa's elves serve hot cocoa and cookies - provided by the Beach Bake Shop in Rockaway Beach. And Santa and Mrs. Claus hand out candy canes (of course) while hearing the Christmas wishes of girls and boys of all ages.”

For the last few years, the star of the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad has been the McCloud 25 steam engine, which was the actual engine used in the ‘80s movie Stand By Me. However, that one will sit out the holiday ride this time.

“The engine from Stand By Me, the McCloud 25, will not be used for Candy Cane Express this year,” Lyman said. “The Polson Lumber Co. #2 is being used for the entire run, which is a change from our original plans for this year. We originally leased the #25 from a local man who owned it, but last year we purchased the locomotive, and it is definitely the star of our fleet.”

Worried about coastal weather? With most of the cars you don't have to, but there is one open-air car which, while it has a roof, it will keep you in contact with the elements.

“It has a roof but no windows; it is open on the sides,” Lyman said. “On rainy, windy days it can be a real ‘experience' to ride out there. If passengers choose to book seats in the covered car, they should be prepared to get wet and cold. Dressing in layers is a standard recommendation for all our cars. For the covered car it is also recommended that passengers bring appropriate rain gear.”

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Above: courtesy Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

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