Last month we discovered another fun, family-friendly train activity in the Southern California region: The Orange County Model Engineers.
On the third full weekend of every month between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., the OC Model Engineers holds FREE public train runs and gives rides to kids and adults. The trains depart from the Mackerel Flats and Goathill Junction Railroad (MF&GHJRR) Station inside of Fairview Park in Costa Mesa (CA). The station and railroad are both named after the piece of land inside of the park that the railroad club has on lease for a 25-year-period.
I know… so many trains. RMT’ers, I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. I keep finding such wonderful fun and mostly free activities that I just can’t help but share them with you so you don’t miss any of the free family fun either. And because of a reminder last month from fellow mom-in-cyberspace (and real-life) friend planadayout.com, I was able to put this on our calendar of weekend fun at long last. My only error was not heeding my dear cyberspace friend’s reminders sooner (she’s very good at posting reminders to regular activities like this on her Facebook page nightly). I’ve actually known of this one for a couple of years now, but always thought, how cool could this ride-on train really be compared to the one at Griffith Park?
Answer: It’s very cool. I am not going to say better, just different. The ride here in Fairview Park gives guests a wonderful view of the park’s open, green space (in winter anyway, I’d think in summer this may look a little more brown); Griffith’s ride is more about the wonderful buildings and hand-constructed displays and winds through a more tree-canopied area of space. There’s also the potential for clear views out to the mountains and even peek-a-boo ocean if the sky is clear (think post-rain) at OC Model Engineers. The ride is about the same length as Griffith Park’s (12-15 minutes), but one key difference is that while Griffith Park runs live steamers (their club being officially named “LA Live Steamers”), the OC Model Engineers operate miniature diesels. Feel free to peruse the OC Model Engineers website for more information on the trains themselves, and this link has more information on the history of the club itself.
Our family plans to go again to this month’s run down at OC Model Engineers, which is THIS SATURDAY AND SUNDAY March 16-17, 2013. While rides are free, the club depends on donations from the public to keep the trains running month after month. We usually drop a few bucks in the boxes out at the train station to cover us, anywhere from a few dollar bills to a five or a 10; it really depends on how many times we ride. I stress the “depends on how many times we ride” above because last month we were able to cycle through the cue three times without a wait. I think that was because of the weather (it was the day after a pretty decent storm and still a little chilly that Sunday morning). T totally would have gone a fourth, fifth, and sixth, too, but we were running out of small bills!
Another way to ensure that you can keep riding without a wait is to book your child’s (or your own… heck, why not?!) next birthday party here. Yes, the OC Model Engineers would love to host your birthday on a Saturday morning (10 a.m.-to-Noon) or afternoon (1 p.m.-to-3 p.m.). For a minimum $150 donation, you are provided dedicated staff, a birthday train, and private rail time for your event. The monies are also used for general rail and equipment upkeep (remember, staff are all volunteers!). Make your reservation by calling 949-548-7246 (call in advance as these book fast!).
So gather up your change and head down to Fairview Park this weekend and hop on board for some family fun! Maybe we’ll see you there Saturday, too!
OC Model Engineers is a non-profit organization. Membership is open to everyone with an interest in trains, large or small! Guests are invited to their weekly Saturday work parties at the track site, the monthly general meeting, and of course, the public riding days (again, third full weekend of each month, Saturday-Sunday). MF&GHJRR is on Placentia Avenue between Adams and Wilson, just north of Estancia HS. If you would like to become involved and would like more information, please call (949) 548-7246. For more information about holding a special event with OC Model Engineers, please click here.