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Heber Valley Railroad train ride is a treat

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The wild-eyed Heber DeCreeper is part of the Heber Valley Railroad's Halloween Haunted Canyon ride.

The wild-eyed Heber DeCreeper is part of the Heber Valley Railroad’s Halloween Haunted Canyon ride.

Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News

HEBER VALLEY RAILROAD; trips scheduled each weekend evening until Halloween; departing at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. from the Vivian Park Station in Provo Canyon; tickets are $12 for adults, $8 per child. Call 435-654-5601 for information.

PROVO CANYON — To the jaded adult, the haunted train ride up and down Provo Canyon seems almost unbelievably sedate.

Yeah, the lighting is creepy and the train kind of jostles along with the creaks and squeaks that come with age. That all lends itself to a spooky mood.

But other than having to shake hands with a grungy, wild-eyed, Heber DeCreeper before boarding the train, there seems to be nothing too scary to worry about.

Faces on the 5-year-olds aboard indicate the experience is a little more intense, from their point of view.

Stories based on real canyon legends come across the loudspeaker — all about dead people missing from the graveyard and ghostly mine workers who still haunt the train cars. Tales of massive flooding, trestle disasters and washed-out bridges set off some serious worries.

By the time stories are told about the bodies washed downstream and the dead bride waiting in her shimmering white dress for the husband who survived the train wreck, there's real concern on the children's faces.

A few lighted spooky scenes outside the train windows add to the effect. So do the disheveled and assorted bloody characters who lumber periodically through the train cars.

Thank goodness the headless conductor at least has his head sewn back on before he comes through the train.

This ride has some pluses. None of the spooks touch anybody. Nobody screams or thrusts a spinning chain saw in your face. There's really no visible bloodshed or murderous intent evident.

But it's still pretty intense from the very young passenger's perspective.

Arrive 15-10 minutes before departure to ensure a good seat. Be aware that although the entire circuit only takes about a half an hour, there's no getting off mid-ride if a child gets upset.

Take along plenty of adults to comfort and address the questions: "Will that really happen? Is the bridge really out?" "What about that missing dead guy?"

And watch out for the "Ghost of Provo Canyon" on the way home.

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com