Thousands of children from across the region made downtown Carlisle their holiday destination back in December 1948.

They stood in line for a chance to board the Toy Town Express, a miniature train that ran a circuit on the lawn of the First Presbyterian Church on the Square.

This week’s Tour Through Time focuses on a Christmas favorite from 70 years ago that featured two coaches capable of seating up to 24 passengers.

The train operated daily from Saturday, Dec. 4, to Christmas Eve. It ran from 1 to 5 p.m. until Dec. 11 when the hours were expanded to 9 p.m

For three weeks in November, organizers of Toy Town Express mailed about 17,000 invitations and tickets to children under 12 living in Cumberland, Franklin, Adams, York and Perry counties. The Sentinel, in a Dec. 3 report, described the layout of the temporary downtown attraction:

“A passenger station has been built on the northeast corner of the church lawn where all tickets for a ride will be punched. The entrance to the railroad line is at the northern end of the church lawn and the exit near the southern side of the tract.”

The Dec. 3 story said a record-breaking crowd of 10,000 people was expected to jam the parade route heralding the arrival of Santa Claus in Carlisle and the official start of the local holiday shopping season.

“The stage is all set for the biggest show of its kind ever put on here by the Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Merchants Bureau,” the story reads. “Seven blocks in the heart of the town have been attractively decorated along with the Public Square where eight festoons drop from a huge star which will illuminate the area around the Square.”

Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Historical Society staff each week to offer a look at Cumberland County through the years. Send any questions, ideas or tips to Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.


Education/History Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.