Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Museum in Elbe, Washington, has rebranded and changed its name to Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum.
The museum is committed to making about $300,000 in capital improvements this year and adding additional staff members.
All of the crew will be paid staff, said Wayne Rankin, president of Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum.
“We love our volunteers, and we will still use volunteers for certain aspects, but having the same crew on all the time will give us more ability to make sure people are saying the same things to give guests a better experience from the second they’re on the property to the moment they leave,” Rankin said.
There will be more opportunities to ride the train from Elbe to the logging museum in Mineral. During peak seasons in July and August, and from Thanksgiving weekend through December, Rankin said guests can expect the train to operate five days a week. Having full-time staff operating the trains makes this increase in operation possible.
Meilee Anderson, director of sales and marketing, said the museum includes a logging camp, restoration shop, a steam-powered sawmill and the most comprehensive collection of steam-powered logging locomotives in North America.
“Most people have not been able to get nose-to-nose with a 99-ton steam train,” Anderson said.
Rankin said a lot of investment will be done in refurbishing the rail cars, adding two rail cars per train, reactivating the Polson Logging No. 70 2-8-2 Rod Locomotive and sprucing up facilities.
Guided tours and catered meals for groups can be arranged. While the railroad and museum season runs from May to October, private group events may be scheduled throughout the year.
Tom Murray, who founded Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in 1981, has entrusted the organization with Rankin and Al Harper. Rankin has more than 30 years of experience in entertainment and hospitality as a former employee of Disney and Sega-Game Works. Harper is a railroad industry entrepreneur. Harper and his wife Carol own Rail Events, which includes the Warner Bros. production of The Polar Express.
Harper will bring The Polar Express train to Elbe this Christmas season.
Anderson said group tours can also visit an area wildlife park, Mount Rainier National Park and several farms.
“If any groups need recommendations on pre- and post-visit components, I am more than happy to connect them to people,” Anderson said.
For more information, call 360-569-7959 or visit mtrainierrailroad.com.