MILWAUKEE -- Happy 60th Birthday Milwaukee County Zoo train! To celebrate the milestone, zoo officials have placed wooden sculptures near the tracks along the 1.25-mile route route for riders to enjoy.
According to a news release from the zoo, the North Shore Bank Safari Train was donated by the Milwaukee Journal newspaper back on June 20, 1958. The custom-made steam engine is one-quarter the size of a regular steam engine and operates under the same mechanical principles as its full-size counterpart.
The eight-ton train can travel up to 60 miles-per-hour, but normally runs about five or six -- making for an enjoyable tour for its approximately 400,000 riders per year.
Celebrating 60 years on the tracks, riders will see sculptures of Wisconsin wildlife representing either a state symbol or a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service threatened or endangered Wisconsin species.
The sculptures were hand-carved by Rock on Ice, a company in Ohio that also carves the zoo’s giant pumpkins for the Halloween events. One sculpture takes eight hours to construct.
Zoo officials said each wooden sculpture is made from “urban wood,” which comes from trees that already need to come down. They include a bald eagle, gray wolf, karner blue butterfly, eastern massasauga snake, white tail deer, musky and badger.
Accompanying the wooden sculptures are a few fun activities marking this 60th birthday celebration:
Train trading cards similar to the zoo animal trading cards will be handed out around the zoo from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The cards include fun facts about the zoo train.
Early this summer, new TV screens will be placed in the waiting area to board the train, presenting throwback videos, fun train facts and highlighting train history.
The Milwaukee County Zoo’s social media platforms will post throwback videos, as well as contests from Memorial Day to Labor Day.