Upon entering the Canyon Meadows Park in South Weber, there is a little railroad track along with railroad lights, signs and gates. There is a small playground, a baseball field and kids playing everywhere. The sound of train whistles in the distance signal where the main attraction is located — a train stop.
The South Weber Model Railroad Club (SWMRRC) built this one-eighth scale railroad from scratch. The track wraps all around the park and into some of the residential area, extending about a mile. The club maintains all the miniature trains to provide Public Run Days each month. This is to give back to the community by “providing family fun and an educational opportunity [for all] to learn how railroads function,” said the standing president of the SWMRRC club, Zach Pickard. Pickard is a full-time engineer and cosplay prop maker who joined the club last year with his wife after his family had a blast visiting the Public Run Days.
After speaking with a few other members of the club, I found it was a pleasure to see the hard work the team continue to give in order to grow the club. Initially, the city of South Weber reached out to John Grubb — the founder and former president beginning in 2009 — in order to create a train-themed park. Since then, Grubb and the rest of the members have maintained the equipment and tracks using only donations given by riders throughout the running months of March to October.
Beautiful weather accompanies the rides through the park, along with many children and their parents. At first, I felt somewhat silly visiting the park alone, standing in the quick line to jump onto one of two running trains. However, riding on them is a delight. The conductors ride on the front and back, bringing a realistic experience of riding on a full-sized train when they shout “All aboard” as they blow the train whistles to riders. Coming up to the railroad crossing gate, the trains slow so the conductors can turn on their lights and have crossguards come down. The experience is authentic, down to the detailed paintings on the engines, passenger carts and cabooses.
Surprisingly, the model trains hold the weight of an adult with a carrying capacity up to 900-pounds on each of the seven-passenger carts. Each train ride can hold up to 25 to 30 passengers while the entire ride lasts up to ten minutes. Residents that surround the park either help to run the club and or seem entertained by the glee of the participating children. Since the trains border the residents’ back yards, the scene is reminiscent of a miniature train set and its surrounding village that is set up under a Christmas tree. Watching the adorable trains pass by and loop around, I gives wanted to come back and share the experience with others.
If you missed the club’s last event, you can ride a model train for free on July 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Public Run Days are held every third Saturday of the month. Members are friendly, entertaining and full of information on their passion for model trains. Some of the members even have their own private engines to show off. The club is also in need of members and participants. If you’re a cosplayer or have a Halloween costume and want to hand out candy while showing off your outfits, the SWMRRC hosts an annual Halloween-themed train ride. You can reach out to the South Weber Model Railroad Club through their website or Facebook page. Families may also enjoy having a picnic while the kids enjoy the train ride and jungle gym. I advise that you bring sunscreen and sun protection to your visit as there is not much shade available. Donations are always appreciated by the club but are never required.