The Polar Specific from Palmer Lake finds everlasting dwelling in Colorado Springs Colorado Springs Information

When Colorado Springs-based Travis Coleman arrived at the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation in Colorado Springs last month, he was met with a pleasant surprise.

In the back room was a 20-foot model train – a replica of the Polar Express.

In 2006, Travis and his father, former Palmer Lake councilor Gary Coleman, began a community-wide vacation tradition. Each year around the holidays, they posted the replica in various locations around Palmer Lake and displayed it for the community to see.

“It’s just magical. It’s one of those things that you just have to see, ”said Connie Balcerovich, Travis’ sister. “There were lots of children and adults who loved it.”

The exhibit was one of several train-related traditions the duo enjoyed together, and the replica Polar Express model train was Gary’s favorite among all of his dozen of model trains.


Video of the model railway Polar Express

But when Gary died in 2016, the Dekadelong tradition was put on hold. All but one of his trains were sold, and the replica of the Polar Express model railroad was left in a trust for Travis, who suffers from Down syndrome. After being wrapped for the last time four years ago, it was carefully kept on family property.

Travis Coleman makes a video of the Polar Express train that he and his father would set up as a holiday tradition for the community each year.

Years later, when she found out about the Railway Foundation – the Trolley Museum, as it is called by locals – Balcerovich hit upon the idea of ​​surprising Travis by giving the model railroad a permanent home that visitors could use year round could see. It was officially given to the museum and dedicated to Gary and Travis Coleman on November 23rd.

The museum directors were “thrilled” to receive the donation, said Balcerovich, and were surprised by the size of the replica.

“It’s a lot bigger than we thought and the room it’s in now isn’t big enough,” said Dave Lippincott, President of the Railway Foundation.

The museum plans to display the full-size model train after the holidays, he added, and the Trolley Museum is the perfect place to show them off.

“The kids love the movie,” said Balcerovich of the 2004 animated film “The Polar Express” starring Tom Hanks. It’s based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 children’s book of the same name. “Now you can actually see it physically. We recreated what happened in the film. “

Easter eggs from the film can be seen throughout the model train configuration, including the main character Hero Boy and Billy the Lonely Boy. The snowman in front of Hero Boy’s house appears as does the “hobo” on top of the train, the caribou from the caribou crossing scene and the North Pole, to name but a few. Visitors will also hear the voice of Tom Hanks as a train conductor, one of several characters he voiced in the film.

The configuration also includes some special family extras: Santa’s sleigh, a model fire station, a police station, a ski lift, a school building, children’s tobogganing, and various roads and cars, all hand-painted by Gary’s wife, Mary Coleman. She died in 2010.

Gary “always used their buildings” in his model train sets, Balcerovich recalled.

Last month, Travis officially donated the model train to the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation, thanking the museum for the exhibition. He said he liked the idea that visitors could see the model year round.

The Railway Foundation at 2333 Steel Drive in Colorado Spring is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. Admission is $ 9 for adults, $ 7 for seniors and active military personnel, $ 5 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children under 5.

Groups are limited to six or fewer, and face masks are required.

For more information, contact the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation at 719-475-9508 or at

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