DAYTON — If you like Ohio history, train rides, and a chance to kick-back and relax, you might want to head over to Carillon Historical Park in Dayton to celebrate one of the area’s most beloved pastimes.

For 40 years, a special train ride through the park has been bringing smiles to visitors, but what makes it even more unique are the people who make it happen year after year.

What You Need To Know

  • The small train rides at Carillon Historical Park have been a staple since 1984

  • The entire system is run by volunteers with the Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society

  • Rides during the warm weather months are free and take place every other Saturday

  • It's estimated that 20,000 people ride the small trains each year

“We started in 1984," said Mark Fenbers, Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society president. "A group of gentlemen decided to put their finances together and start laying rail with the parks permission, and we’ve been part of this club ever since."

The trains are one-eighth the size of a full scale train, and the entire system is run by volunteers.

“Number one, we love trains, and number two we love lighting up the faces of the visitors here at Carillon Park who really enjoy the trains and if they don’t enjoy the trains, they do by the time they’re done with our ride,” Fenbers said.

“It’s a multi-generational type of thing. People that rode it when they were children now have children of their own and bring them back here to enjoy it. So it really has become part of what Carillon Park really is,” Museum Operations VP Alex Heckman said.

During the warm weather months, they offer free rides every two weeks on Saturdays.

During the Christmas season, rides are offered every night for a dollar.

“There’s something about riding on rails that’s extra special, but you get to see parts of the park that you don’t get to see when you’re on foot, in a car, or any other means,” Fenbers said.

Fenbers estimates that roughly 20,000 people hop aboard the small trains each year.

The ride is only about a mile, but the amount of work it takes to keep it up and running never stops.

“Not only do the locomotives need to be maintained because they’re really just a lawn mower engine them," Fenbers said. "So they need oil changes, they need fuel, they need filter changes. But the track itself is our biggest amount of work. The track sometimes gets uneven and we have to re-level the track. So it’s constant maintenance all year round."

“It’s a wonderful thing to have people who are here to share their interests and their talents with the community and with the park specifically,” Heckman said.

For Fenbers and the team, volunteering has always brought a special feeling, and one they’re always looking to share. 

“So this is someplace you might feel quite at home if you love trains like we do,” Fenbers said.

The train rides will be up and running this Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

If you miss it, don’t worry you have more chances.

Upcoming rides will take place on July 27, Aug. 3 and Aug. 17.