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The Santa Express
Barton County Historical Society celebrates Christmas
new slt santa train closeup
Santa has a baby doll for a good little girl, and a bag of antique toys is stowed at the back of this miniature steam train on display at the Barton County Historical Society Village and Museum. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village is ready for Christmas, with festive displays throughout the museum.
There are Santas in every nook and cranny and vintage ornaments throughout. Those aluminum trees are back in style!
In the library, Santa Claus can be seen riding on the “Rio Grande #830,” a miniature steam train. The train was built by Raymond E. Plank, a machinist for the Denver Rio Grand railroad, for the Elitche’s Garden, an amusement park located in Denver. The train was taken out of service circa 1941 and Bill Foley held ownership of the train until he sold it to Lee Turner of Great Bend in 1965. It was donated to the museum by Lee and Betsy Turner.
In the display, Santa is carrying a baby doll and he has a bag of other antique toys. The museum has a collection of over 300 dolls, dating from 1850, which can be seen throughout the year. Just for the holidays, there is also a tree decorated with “dolls of the nations.”
Other trees throughout the museum have been decorated by various groups, including local sororities. The Barton County Fair Friends have decorated a tree with ornaments representing fair projects such as canning, sewing and raising farm animals.
Located at 85 South U.S. 281 — just south of the Arkansas River bridge in Great Bend — the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
A new exhibit will be announced in January.

Trail of Lights
The Barton County Historical Village also anchors the south end of Great Bend’s “Trail of Lights.” Other displays, made possible through the efforts of the Great Bend Park Department and other City of Great Bend employees, include The Twelve Days of Christmas at Veterans Park, Wild Lights at Brit Spaugh Park, a lighted Nativity scene at 10th Street and K-96 and the Lafayette Lights at Jack Kilby Square.