By Paula @ Holiday World

70th Birthday logoWhat do you give a park for its 70th Birthday?

That an easy one! You bring back its original ride to put on display for generations to see and reminisce.

Whether you remember it as the Freedom Train, the Mother Goose Land Train, or the Santa Claus Land Railroad (thus nearly equaling Sean Combs in the “most name changes in a lifetime” category), chances are you rode it as a child and later as an adult.

Maybe even as a grandparent.

Three years ago, we retired the Freedom Train when it became apparent it was no longer track-worthy. We searched the world over for help in restoring it, but the experts all concluded we needed to replace so much of the original material that we felt it would no longer be the same train generations had grown up riding.

Santa Claus Land Railroad

When we decided to bring back the Freedom Train to put it on display as part of our 70th Birthday celebration, there was some research to do: What color was the train originally? Most of the earliest photos in our archives are black and white. But we did find a feature story in the December 1949 edition of the Saturday Evening Post that included color photos. Of a blue train.

Painter Joe working on trim for Freedom Train

Blue it is.

… with bright red trim in honor of later color schemes. Plus, since the train will be on display in our 4th of July section, the train will fit right in with the theme.

Our Painters embraced this project like the Michelangos they are.

Seriously, they brush aside no task as too big or too small.

Case in point: Here’s Joe taking care of detail work on the cow-catcher (that piece is also called a pilot – but here in rural southern Indiana, it’s definitely better known as a cow catcher).

In all, the paint restoration work took about a week and a half to complete.

We captured every minute.

Happily, Stephen scrunched it down to a 25-second time-lapse video. (He quipped that now he really knows what “watching paint dry” means.)

Please take a look:

Our iconic train will be on display this season in our 4th of July section – across from Rough Riders Bumper Cars – along with some other artifacts and timelines.

Another 70th Birthday project for this season will involve crowd-sourcing, so please be sure to tune in to next week’s podcast for all the details.

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