Climate change has had little or no effect on the icebergs leading to the Polar Express “North Pole” Village owned by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. They are the same size as they were six years ago. Why haven’t the icebergs become smaller as climate change advocates have predicted? Sign me, Skeptical
This is a cool question because the heart-warming train trips start this Saturday.
And unless you’ve been living in Antarctica, The Polar Express story should ring a bell.
A Santa-doubting boy is awakened on Christmas Eve by a magical train outside his bedroom. A conductor invites the boy aboard, where he finds other skeptical kids, all of whom are wearing pajamas. The train makes an extraordinary journey to the North Pole, where the kids meet Santa and his elves. The boy is selected to receive the first gift of Christmas. He could get anything in the world, but he asks for a reindeer’s silver bell. The boy loses his gift on the way home. But on Christmas morning, there’s a small package under the tree.
Seems that Santa found the bell in his sleigh and delivered it. The boy rings the bell, which makes a beautiful sound.
Thing is, the bell can only be heard by those who hold the holiday spirit in their heart.
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them,” the book concludes.
“Even Sarah (his sister) found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
The folks at the D&SNG have created a re-enactment of this award-winning children’s story, and The Polar Express has become a tradition, with 35,000 pajama-wearing believers boarding The Polar Express for a journey to Durango’s “North Pole” in the Animas Valley.
Everyone on the train enjoys hot chocolate, just like in the book.
On the return trip, everyone sings Christmas carols and all kids get a shiny silver bell from Santa.
Naturally, people in pajamas riding an enchanted train yearn for a realistic reminder of global warming.
And who doesn’t want a holiday family event turned into a shrill political statement?
It’s Polar Express believers vs. climate change deniers. Let’s give the cold shoulder to the hot-button issue of iceberg modification.
On the other hand, we could acknowledge that Durango’s “North Pole” was covered in ice, not once but thrice.
Our good friend Dr. Gary Gianniny, professor of Geosciences at Fort Lewis College, provides the cold, hard facts about local glaciation.
Gary points to three main icy eras and the moraines they left behind.
The first glaciation was from 347,000 to 243,000 years ago. Then, from 191,000 to 130,000 years ago, encroaching glaciers formed “those funny house-encrusted knolls north of Florida Road and east of Holly Lane,” he said.
Lastly, the Animas City moraines are geologic youngsters, dating from 29,000 to 18,000 years ago.
Not only was Durango’s “North Pole” covered in ice, it was below grade.
“Some 250,000 years ago, the bottom of the Animas Valley was almost at the elevation of today’s FLC Terrace,” Gary pointed out.
“It’s pretty cool – the difference in the elevation of the terrace and the current river valley bottom shows us how much material has eroded out.”
So, there’s your timeless story, be it the “Polar Express” or the geologic record.
All you have to do is believe.
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