The Forest Park Miniature Train soon will return as a new investor works to buy the Fort Worth attraction.
Mary Talley, Talley Amusements vice president, told the Fort Worth Report she is in the process of purchasing the train and refurbishing the equipment to get it running again.
Once the purchase is finalized, Talley plans to modernize the miniature train with digital ticketing and a souvenir stand. Although there is no official opening date, Talley said, the wait will be worth it.
“We’re just going to make this thing bigger and better,” she said. “I’m going to improve upon it, and I’m sure the public is going to love it.”
Haltom City-based Forest Park Rides Inc. operated the park’s train since the late 1950s. The five-mile miniature railway runs through Forest Park and crosses the Trinity River.
The train closed in March 2022 because of equipment issues and the declining health of Forest Park Rides Inc. President Raymond Hames. Hames did not respond to three phone call requests to comment from the Fort Worth Report.
Talley’s purchase of the train is sentimental. Her great-grandfather was an early stockholder of Forest Park Rides Inc., she said. Talley is excited to buy a company in which her great grandfather was involved, she said.
The city sent a notice to the Forest Park Rides Inc. because it was not following the agreement made with the municipal government, Dave Lewis, interim director for Fort Worth’s Parks and Recreation department, said.
“We’ve heard a lot from the public that it’s a very important visitor experience for not only our residents but when our residents have guests from out of town,” Lewis said.
The agreement stated that the Forest Park train would have to operate Saturday and Sunday, depending on the weather, and send to the city a log of when the train was running, Lewis said. The train broke the agreement by lying dormant for more than a year.
The city set an initial deadline of Oct. 26 for restarting the train. The company then requested and received an extension through March 23.
One Fort Worth resident looking forward to the reopening is Beth “Bee” Engelhardt, 69. She grew up with the miniature train and wanted to become a train engineer. However, women were not allowed in that field of work at the time so she opted to ride it instead.
Engelhardt’s father would take her to ride on the weekends, she recalled. Now, with the train’s closure, she said she misses the locomotive chugging through the park whenever she passes by.
“You felt the wind through your hair,” she said. “For a girl, that was cool. Back then, we didn’t get to do a lot of daring, speedy things.”