There won’t be any “Now boarding” calls heard at the miniature train ride at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth for a little while.
The museum announced it has temporarily taken the 63-year-old ride out of service so it can undergo a restoration that will see its engine completely overhauled. That means the little train won’t be pulling visitors around the museum’s grounds until sometime in either early or mid-October.
“While we know our guests will miss the park train while it is out of service, taking the time to rebuild the locomotive’s engine will allow it to operate for years to come,” said Bill Bickley, a volunteer park train engineer overseeing the project. “We look forward to returning an upgraded and improved park train to service soon.”
The train was built in 1957 by the Miniature Train Company and was operated at the Birmingham Zoo from that time until it was retired in 1976. It was placed at the museum in 2012. Museum officials said there is another park train, but it is undergoing its own complete rebuild in the museum’s machine shop.
The train taken out of service is “substantially original,” according to museum officials. It is one of less than 70 trains built by the Miniature Train Company built that are still operating in the country.
The train was sent to Industrial Engine Rebuilders in St. Paul, Minn., for the restoration project.
“We knew this day was coming, and thankfully, discussions on what to do when that day arrived were already underway,” Bickley said. “We looked at options, including a diesel engine retrofit and rebuilding the existing Wisconsin engine. Both solutions had their pros and cons.”
Information about the museum, including how supporters can make donations to help pay for the park train restoration can be found at SoutheasternRailwayMuseum.org.