Long Island Steamers - For Train Fans & Model Railroaders - An Unusual Report

Associated parks:
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Sunday, August 26, 2007 10:14 PM
Greetings All!

This is a bit of an unusual trip report because it didn't take place at an amusement park - but in a county park in Yaphank, Long Island (New York). (Exit 67 and a mile south on the Long Island Expressway).

If you are not a fan of trains or model railroads, you might not be interested. If you are a part of the hobby and the rail-road culture, you will enjoy the place.

We got to Southaven State Park by 2 PM. There was an area for cars to park under trees on an unpaved strip. Two port-o-sans were the needed restroom facilities.

A short walk from there brings you the main area where you can see two different types of tracks that handle mini steam, diesel and electric locomotives pulling a series of cars. Each car had as many a four people each.

I am not a model railroad guy at all, but I love and appreciate the hobby. The cars were bigger than O gage, but much smaller than any train I've seen at any park.

There is a pay-what-you-wish fee for as many tickets as you want, and you will need one ticket for each rider per train. (There is a sign that says each rider must weigh less than 250 pounds, but no one was measuring and a few of the operators looked like they would come close).

There was a brief line and we waited ten minutes to board the main "low ground line." The train was relatively smooth and the ride lasted about 5 or 6 minutes. Along the way there were nice little touches such as switches, signals, water depots, signs and other railroad "stuff" for lack of a better word that added to the experience.

The main layout was a double oval which was mostly along the end of the woods. (I remembered from a few years ago that rides during the fall foliage were brethtaking).

What makes this special are the guys who run it. Most of these are older people who love to answer any possible question you might have about them, their hobby and trains in general. They dress the part, as most of these gentlemen were dressed as the engineer in the "Conjunction Junction - What's Your Function" video from schoolhouse rock.

These guys are serious about what they do and they are trying if I can say that to get the younger generations interested in the hobby and thier "Club."

They are very proud to tell you that most of the parts and engines were made by hand. Some took several years to build. The craftsmanship shows.

I think the club struck a deal with the county. The county would donate a section of a park in exchange for the public to enjoy rides. Therefore, Everybody wins!

There is also a highland track which is more like a single oval with a few extra curves thrown in for grins along the way. I was amazed how such a small locomotive could pull the four of us (my family and the drive) all aound this elevated track. (It is elevated with sawed off telephone polls that were a few feet off of the ground. At one point, we were moving at a good clip (About 15 miles per hour) when we had to slow down for the train in front of us. Then it was a little rough for the small engine to regain speed and momentum. I saw the driver use his foot to kick off against the side rail to get it done.

There was a small area between the two lines where a child was having a birthday party and an adult was grilling something on a small hibatchi. There is also a souvineer stand and a snack bar (Bottled water was $1.50) as well as a few sheds for storage.

The trains only run on certain days of the year (Usually on Sundays and some holidays) and only the members have access to the tracks and trains at other times. The web site will provide the times, but as I mentioned, the rides in the late fall were spectacular.

If you or your kids like or respect trains and building things, and you are in the area...YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!

This is also a nice stop on the way to Splish Splash which is Exit 71 or 72 on the Expressway.

Here is their website:

http://www.trainweb.org/lils/

Thanks for reading and responding.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007 11:02 PM
I enjoyed the trip report even though this is not an amusement park....but then again I think all good parks need a train ride. I miss the train that used to be at Brookfield Zoo. Thankfully we have Little A-Merrick-A around my neck of the woods and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone in our area. Thanks again for this trip report and I think if I am back in that area again, I will make it a point to go.

Also this places sounds a lot like the Hesston Steam Museum in LaPorte, IN which is not to far from me either. I havent been there though but I want to go sometime soon.

http://www.hesston.org/

EDIT: Added more to my comments. *** Edited 8/27/2007 3:05:44 AM UTC by beast7369***

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Sunday, August 26, 2007 11:54 PM
Beast7369 - - - > Thanks for the kind words and the link.

Gems like this really that are operational really need to be preserved and appreciated.

Sometimes before we advance into the future, we should embrace our past.

No matter how someone loves the technology of Disney's animatronics or Ka's machinery, the old technology of a fast snow sled can still provide a refreshing thrill.

Allow me to go off on an artistic limb...

The Coasters may be the pulse and spirit of a park. The Ferris Wheels may be the eyes of the park. The carousel might be the soul. But a steam train can be the history.

There are few such rides that an 80 year old man can appreciate as much as a two year old. There are even fewer rides that an 80 year old man has been on as a two year old child...

Forever in happiness may they both ride.

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Monday, August 27, 2007 8:34 AM
Hesston is well worth the trip, especially over Labor Day weekends when everything is fired up. I combined Hesston last year with a trip to Mi. Adventure and had a wonderful time. Coasters one day. Trains the next.

Walt



beast7369 said:
I enjoyed the trip report even though this is not an amusement park....but then again I think all good parks need a train ride. I miss the train that used to be at Brookfield Zoo. Thankfully we have Little A-Merrick-A around my neck of the woods and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone in our area. Thanks again for this trip report and I think if I am back in that area again, I will make it a point to go.

Also this places sounds a lot like the Hesston Steam Museum in LaPorte, IN which is not to far from me either. I havent been there though but I want to go sometime soon.

http://www.hesston.org/

EDIT: Added more to my comments. *** Edited 8/27/2007 3:05:44 AM UTC by beast7369***


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Monday, August 27, 2007 11:41 AM
I've just finalized plans for my new model railroad.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 3:42 PM
Thanks for the TR. I love steam trains and if I may suggest, If you ever get up Wisconsin Dells way, Stop off in Madison for a visit to Little Amerricka, That not only runs them on weekends, THEY BUILD EM.

Not sure if your welcome but we were when we visited the engine house and shop before the park opened.

WOW!

Again, Thanks for the TR.
Chuck

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