“Easter Eggspress” departing at Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

CALERA — The traditional Cottontail Express will not be returning to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum this year, but there is good news—in its place will be the COVID guideline-friendly “Easter Eggspress.”

The Eggspress will take place Saturday, April 3 and will include departure times of 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for a 75-minute ride. Ticket prices range from $16 to $35, depending on which car you ride, and infants under 24 months get in free.

“It is a new event for us and there is no traditional Easter egg hunt,” said Lindsay Barnett, ticket office manager. “If people just want to come and have fun on the grounds and just ride the little train, they are more than welcome to do so, so there are price points for all budgets.”

The museum’s smaller train, the Shelby & Southern Narrow Gauge Steam Railroad, which was formerly a popular attraction at the Birmingham Zoo, is an alternative for event attendees at $3.50 per ride.

The museum is also partnering with Master Balloon Creations, which will offer face and hand painting as well as balloon animals. Food vendors will also open on the grounds during the Eggspress.

Those who do opt to ride the big train will get a sweet treat—and a photo op—from Peter Cottontail himself.

“We’re still keeping our trains at 50-percent capacity so that there is still space for families to enjoy each other,” Barnett said. “Our goal is a fun, safe, get out of the house and enjoy yourself Easter.”

Added Barnett, “We also found it is an opportunity for us to serve families who have kids that need a little calmer event. There is not a lot of hype on the train. It’s a really gentle experience.”

Guests are encouraged to arrive about an hour before departure time. This will allow time to pick up tickets from the depot and utilize restrooms, the gift shop and other amenities on the grounds. People are also asked to follow typical COVID-19 guidelines, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and choosing not to ride if they have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed.

“It will be worth people’s time to come early,” Barnett said.

For ticket information call 205-757-8383 or email tickets@hodrrm.org. The main office may be reached at 205-668-3435.