You can tell a lot about a community’s health by the parklands it supports!
Something special is always comin’ round the bend at the Molalla Train Park, a private parkland sprawling across four acres in Clackamas County. There, fried chicken and coleslaw are the picnic staples for families, everyone has plenty of elbow room so the kids can play safely and seven miniature trains take visitors for joyful 10-minute rides on the rails.
“It’s awesome to see all their smiles, see the excitement, the look in their eyes,” says Pat Duling, president and lead engineer for the Pacific Northwest Live Steamers. “Every kid loves trains and most adults do too, although they may not admit to it!”
The Steamers is a train club with 80 members who keep the engines running each week. The trains are 1.5-inch model scale, big enough for people to sit on top for a fun-filled ride. All of this the brainchild of founder Harry Harvey who put down the first track in 1954 as a gift to his community.
“When Harry started the park,” notes Duling. “He wanted it to be free for all people. So, if you were less fortunate, you could still come and have a great time and treat your family to an awesome day.”
And it’s still all free — every Sunday all summer long!
Inside the Dennis Jacobs Roundhouse, the locomotives are at the ready.
Dave Middleton and his son, Troy, agree that their hobby is addictive.
“This is fun,” Dave says with a chuckle. “When it becomes work, it’s time to get out of the hobby!”
Back on the railroad, visitors Michelle and Travis Shatto love the railroad’s link to childhood. Travis says it “hit really close to home!”
“I was 12 the last time I rode,” says Travis. “That’s more than 30 years ago when my uncle was a member. He brought us here during the middle of the week and we had the place to ourselves and he ran us around for hours.”
His wife, Michelle heartily agrees and adds, “It is so scenic and really brings you back to when you were a little kid.”
The Molalla Train Park is open to engineers of all ages and it will surely put a smile on your face.