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Thomas the Tank Engine appearance derailed

July 11, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Thomas the Tank turned out to be the little engine that couldn't.

"Thomas the Tank Engine," the popular children's television character, failed to make a scheduled appearance Saturday at the Hagerstown Railroad Museum at City Park because of "liability issues," said Alexander Haines, a tour guide at the railroad museum.

Addison Luther, 4, of Hagerstown, said he was a little disappointed Thomas declined to make a whistle-stop in the Hub City.

"He's my favorite train," Addison said. "I like him so much."

Haines said a visit by "Thomas the Tank Engine" is a good way to get children interested in trains because the character is well-known. Children would have ridden Thomas around the park "like a hayride" had the event gone on as planned, he said.

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The estimated 100 people who visited the railroad museum weren't deterred by Thomas' no-show. They made the best of the situation by taking tours of Locomotive 202 -- a 1912 steam engine that was placed on display in the park in 1953.

As children climbed aboard Locomotive 202 and rang its bell, Haines gave a brief history of the almost century-old train.

Haines said Locomotive 202 was built in 1912 and was used by the Western Maryland Railroad to pull passenger cars from Hagerstown to Baltimore.

The engine was converted from steam to oil in 1947 to reduce emissions, Haines said. It was retired in 1952 and taken to City Park a year later.

Locomotive 202 received a fresh paint job in the spring of 2008, Haines said. The engine's appearance is much as it was in 1952.

"This thing really is in great shape," he said. "It's been babied since it was put in the park."

In addition to Locomotive 202, the park has a museum and nine cabooses,

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