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Steam trains once again rolling at Hunter Hobby Park

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2011
Hunter Hobby Park


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2011
New station

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2011
Arriving passengers

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2011
Riding the rails

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2011
New playground

Saturday morning marked the public reopening of Riverside’s Hunter Hobby Park following nearly $7 million in renovations for one of the city’s most unique parks. The reopening also means the public is once again invited to “ride the rails” with the Riverside Live Steamers.
Along with a new (and relocated) train station, the completely refurbished park includes two new lighted ballfields, basketball courts, children’s playground, grassy knolls and walking paths, restroom facilities and expanded parking. We especially liked the train station fencing and the installation of two refurbished neon signs that were saved from the Magnolia Avenue railroad underpass project.
Located in northeast Riverside, the 40-acre park began life in the late 1950s as an adjunct “backyard” of sorts to local engineer — and steam train enthusiast — Joseph L. Hunter, who laid track down for a personal, small gauge steam engine. The track, which was initially 4,300 feet in length, soon began attracting other train enthusiasts.
Joseph and his brother Edwin started Hunter Engineering. The company was a pioneer of several key, industry-leading patents in the manufacturing of aluminum products (and is now part of worldwide Hunter-Douglas).
Following Joseph’s death in 1965, the the park was donated to the city of Riverside, which set up a partnership with local train enthusiasts. Formed in 1966, this all-volunteer group — Riverside Live Steamers — immediately began operating, maintaining and expanding the facilities.
Today, with over 10,000 feet of track with several switchable configurations, the club includes both private- and city-owned, 7 1/2 gauge (1/8-sized) engines, with the overriding requirement being “steam-only.” The club provides free rides on the 2nd and 4th Sundays each month.
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Sources: Riverside Live Steamers, The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside

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