Best Kids' Thrill (Railroad Division) - 2004
The Wabash Frisco and Pacific Steam Railway
Oh sure, there's the zoo train, and it's great. But nothing beats riding on a track next to the Meramec River in an open-air wooden car, the sun peeking in through the shady trees, the steam engine filling the air with puffs of smoke. Starting the first Sunday in May and continuing every Sunday through the end of October, the Wabash Frisco and Pacific Association runs twelve-inch-gauge steam trains on a two-mile round-trip stretch of track in Glencoe. (For the neophyte train fan, "twelve-inch gauge" refers to the distance between the rails.) Dedicated, authentically garbed volunteers (mostly of the Grandpa variety, working side-by-side with their grandchildren) serve as mechanics, engineers and conductors. A $3 suggested donation per ticket goes toward engine repair and upkeep. From I-44, take Route 109 north 3.5 miles from exit 264 to Old State Road. Make a right, then another right almost immediately, and go another three blocks (follow the signs). Bring a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon watching train lovers meet steam engines. Trains depart every twenty minutes, from 11 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. All aboard!