Dayton History is bringing a rail line and passenger train to Carillon Historical Park that visitors can ride for entertainment and convenience while learning about history.
The $9 million project is expected to begin this spring and wrap up in fall 2022, which will add a very new experience to the open-air history museum, said Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History.
“We wanted to offer something for the whole family and provide some kind of narration,” he said. “This truly is a form of transportation for people but also an interpretive tool.”
Dayton History plans to begin excavation work this spring on a nearly one-mile railroad that will loop around the 65-acre park.
Rail stations for boarding and departing will be installed by the main building and the transportation center.
The park will relocate its existing train depot and will build a new station at the far end of the property.
The electric-powered train will hold 120 passengers and will run three times each hour.
The 145-foot-long train and open coaches will ride along a three-foot-gauge railway.
Dayton History first proposed installing a working train and rail in 2007, but park leadership’s interest in acquiring a locomotive like this goes back much further, Kress said.
Colonel Edward Andrew Deeds, who founded the park in 1950, wanted a full-scale, mid-century locomotive to put on exhibit, Kress said.
Deeds never got his hands on the type of train he wanted, but he did commission a miniature model of the “Cincinnati,” which was the first locomotive to pull a passenger train into Dayton in 1851.
The new train will look identical to the Cincinnati, Kress said, and it will be built by England-based Severn Lamb, which designs and manufactures light urban, leisure and resort transport.
The company famously made the Wildlife Express Train for Disney’s Wildlife Kingdom in Florida.
Dayton History is still raising money for the project, but Kress said more than half the needed funds have been secured from private donors.
Excavation for the train bed will begin this spring and should complete by November so the work will not interfere with the nesting habits of the bald eagles that reside at the park, Kress said.
Dayton History also wants construction to take advantage of smaller crowds at the park this year because students and school groups aren’t visiting due to the pandemic, he said.
The park also will get a new triple-cell bridge that is about 100 feet long that the train will traverse, Kress said.
Carillon Historical Park has a miniature train (1/8th scale) that is run by volunteers on select dates. This project will not impact that attraction.