Maryland’s First Lady Katie O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake raised the mallet and struck the “golden spike” as they helped Maryland Zoo President and CEO Don Hutchinson formally dedicate the Zoo’s newest attraction, The Jones Falls Zephyr. “I can tell you that there is something about this train that is appealing to all,” stated Hutchinson at the dedication ceremony. “From the fire engine red locomotive and cars, to the train whistle and bells and the journey through the forest, I think our visitors are going to be really happy with the new ride.”
The Jones Falls Zephyr replaces the old train ride that was “retired” in 2005. The locomotive is a detailed scale replica of the original CP Huntington Train built in 1863 and was manufactured by Chance Rides Manufacturing, Inc., Wichita, KS.
There are four passenger cars following the locomotive, seating an average of 70 people per ride. The Zephyr’s 10-minute ride will leave the train station near the Zoo’s Farmyard and move on the one-mile track behind the African Journey and returning to the station through a beautiful section of the Jones Falls Watershed. The entire project cost $2.6 million and was paid for with capital funds from the State.
First Lady Katie O’Malley and her sons, along with Mayor Rawlings-Blake were the first to board the Zephyr for its’ inaugural run after the ceremony. “It is an honor to be here today to unveil The Maryland Zoo’s new train,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “There is something fun and old-fashioned about trains that everyone loves, and the Zephyr offers a wonderful experience and an added incentive for Maryland Zoo visitors.”
The Zephyr leaves the station and heads over the bridge, passing by the sitatunga yard, where riders may be able to view the sitatunga or African hornbills moving about near the waterfall. As it runs parallel to the Boardwalk heading to the Chimp Forest, one might be able to see chimps in their outside yard before passing the Chimpanzee Forest building. The train then runs around the South Loop and heads back on the same path, going over the bridge again and making the North Loop as it pulls into the Station.
“The Zephyr will greatly enhance the experience for visitors of the Zoo,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Students, families and individuals will be able to see more of the Zoo in a new way, creating more dynamic experiences for everyone.”
The Jones Falls Zephyr opens to the public at 10:30 am on Wednesday, June 30. The Train will be operational daily, weather permitting; from 10:30 am until 4:00 pm. Tickets are $3.00 per non-member and $2.00 per member. Children under 2 ride free with a paying adult. “The Zephyr’s track was well planned and I really think visitors are going to enjoy the ride,” continued Hutchinson. “It really shows off a section of the Zoo’s landscape that has been previously hidden, and is truly beautiful.”