Thomas The Tank Engine is returning to the Northland again this summer, although families will board the fun train at a different station.

The North Shore Scenic Railroad has announced that Thomas The Tank Engine will make his annual summer return to the area - during two consecutive weekends in August.  The return marks the "Day Out With Thomas" attraction's 20-plus years of providing a larger-than-life train experience for kids of all ages.

But something will be different this summer.

In years past, riders have boarded Thomas The Tank Engine at the Duluth station near the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. An estimated 22,000 people take part in the event on any given year.  That's in addition to the riders who take the regular North Shore Scenic Railroad excursions.

North Shore Scenic Railroad General Manager Ken Buehler suggests that the move will alleviate the congestion that can occur due to the popularity of the Day Out With Thomas event:

"Those two weekends in August are so crucial to the tourist industry in Duluth.  If you come to Duluth, and you want to take a train ride, and all you have is your option for Thomas, that might not be what you want to do."

That's why the move to Two Harbors just makes sense all the way around; it alleviates that potential for congestion - and the option availability for Duluth, while creating an activity for Two Harbors as well.  Buehler explains:  "The Thomas destination people are going to find Thomas wherever he is".

While the departing station may be different, the operation will remain the same. The North Shore Scenic Railroad will still be in charge, running the trains on their tracks in Two Harbors.

There is also a growing excitement for what Two Harbors will have to offer kids and families as well.  The Duluth Depot is in a more urban setting, surrounded by concrete and asphalt; meanwhile in Two Harbors, there is plenty of green space for the kids to have some fun while waiting for the train - before and after. To capitalize on that space, the North Shore Scenic Railroad plans to set up tents and bounce houses for the kids to have extra fun - in addition to the Thomas The Tank Engine train ride.

The Day Out With Thomas Event - will see Thomas The Tank Engine and his friends running on the North Shore Scenic Railroad out of Two Harbors on two consecutive weekends:  August 4-6 and August 11-13.

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