Local Thomas fan, Otto L., greets his hero as the tank engine arrives in North Bend prior to the July events at the Northwest Railway Museum. Northwest Railway Museum / courtesy photo

Local Thomas fan, Otto L., greets his hero as the tank engine arrives in North Bend prior to the July events at the Northwest Railway Museum. Northwest Railway Museum / courtesy photo

Thomas the Train tour returning to the Valley

Events planned for several dates in July.

Snoqualmie Valley children will once again have the chance to spend a “Day Out With Thomas” as the Steam Team Tour comes to The Northwest Railway Museum during its 24th annual run.

Snoqualmie will be one of 37 stops during the national tour that brings a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine to the museum offering local kids the chance to ride along and meet Sir Topham Hatt, a character from the “Thomas & Friends” series. The event will also include themed activities, toys to play with, photos with the train and motor car rides.

The Northwest Railway Museum is delighted to host Day Out With Thomas,” said Richard Anderson of the Northwest Railway Museum. “Each year, Day Out With Thomas at the Northwest Railway Museum usually serves about 15,000 children and their families.

The tour has stopped in Snoqualmie since 2002 and is the museum’s largest annual event, according to Anderson.

Thomas arrived in North Bend on June 12 with a local child, Otto L., excited to greet the beloved character.

“On hand to greet this VIE — Very Important Engine — was one of his biggest fans, Otto L.,” Anderson wrote in a blog post. “Otto is 3 year of age, and a resident of North Bend. He was so excited to see his hero pull up in front of the North Bend Depot.

The Northwest Railway Museum is the largest railroad museum in Washington and was founded in 1957. It now serves as a nonprofit, offering various programs and operating “an outstanding railroad museum where the public can experience the excitement of a working railroad and see and understand the role of railroads in the development and settlement of Washington State and adjacent areas,” according to an official statement.

Tour officials say the 37 stops throughout the United States and Canada is expected to attract nearly one million passengers this year.

The Thomas rides are expected to take 25 minutes and attending children will also have the chance to talk to a railway engineer and learn about how trains work on the tracks.

“Day Out With Thomas is designed for children 2 – 5 years – it is rare to find a live event designed for this age group,” Anderson said. “One of the unique activities at the event in Snoqualmie is a ride behind a motor car. The “Kalamazoo” motor car pulls a trailer that children and their families ride on. Historically, this was how loggers traveled in and out of the woods on logging railroads.”

The tour will stop in Snoqualmie from July 12-14 and July 19-21, with events lasting from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Tickets will cost $25 to $28 for children older than 2. Locals can find all the details and learn about event logistics online at www.trainmuseum.org/thomas/Main.html.