SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, NORTH CAROLINA --
Over the last 65 years joy and laughter has filled the air at Herman Park in Goldsboro, North Carolina, all thanks to a miniature train.
The train was donated to the city in 1955 by the Kiwanis Club has been in service up until a few years ago.
The miniature train, a model G -16, the “Suburban” was one of three models made by Miniature Train Company of Rensselaer, Indiana from the 1930’s to 1960’s. It is estimated that there are only 50 remaining operational trains of the 240 trains that were built before 1963 by Miniature Train Company & Successors according the Kiwanis Club.
A few years ago, the train broke down and the man who had been servicing the train recently passed away.
Airmen from the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, heard about the broke down train and reached out to the Kiwanis Club to see how they could help get the train operational again.
The Airmen came together and volunteered to help fix the train. A complete re-haul was required, which consisted of replacing the train’s electrical system, vacuum pump system, lights and starter.
They also replaced 23 railroad ties, calibrated the brakes and tuned up the engine.
The Kiwanis train was everything to me and my siblings,” said Tech. Sgt. Torrey Dudley, 4th EMS aerospace ground equipment craftsman. “We had no idea what kind of impact the train has had on the local area.”
Since 1955, Kiwanis Club of Goldsboro members and, more recently, local high school Key Clubs have operated the train and its associated concessions stand on weekend afternoons from April through October.
“We are so grateful for the personnel who have overhauled the engine and systems to put new life into this cherished miniature train,” said Becky Craig, Kiwanis Club of Goldsboro president.
The revenue generated from the train and concession stands go back into the local community.
With the work that was put into the train to get it running again, the train rides will once again be able to start giving back to those programs.
The train is scheduled to start operating April 3 at Herman Park from 1 - 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 - 5 p.m. on Sundays.
“After we worked on it, my girls want to go back to ride on something their dad helped fix,” Dudley said. “To see a piece of my childhood still running means the world to me.”