With a puff of steam, the clickety-clack of steel on steel and the lonely whistle, Little Toot rolls through the scenic Charley Brown Park. This nostalgic trip is a thrill for the older generation and a fun educational experience for the young.
A hobby and pastime of Gaylon Borders, it represents the love he had with the "Iron Horse". Mr. Borders was employed with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. His dream became reality in 1959 when he opened the original one-quater mile circle of track.
An advertisement by Crown Metal Products Company of Wyano, Pa, caught Mr. Border's eye. He contacted the owner of the firm, which was a new venture, and had not yet produced any locomotives, other than the prototype. On November 11,1958 Gaylon and his wife Sallie traveled to Wyano, PA, and observed the prototype in operation on a track which encircled the William's house. Before the day was over, Gaylon had placed the order for what was to become the first ever produced 15" gauge Crown Locomotive known as "Little Toot".
The locomotive and cars were completed in the spring of 1959 and were shipped to Flora. By then, following many months of of site construction, the project was completed. One month later it was Opening Day and "All Aboard" for action and fun. The train operated seasonally fron 1959 until Mr. Borders passed away after a brief illness in 1965. In 1966 "Toot" operated only on weekends and holidays manned by a few volunteers. Finally, on a sad day in 1967, the train was sold, rails taken up and the sound of a steam whistle was no longer heard in Charley Brown Park.
Mr. Jim Adams, a volunteer from Centralia, IL and a thirty-three year veteran draftsman for the Illinois Central Railroad, became the new owner of "Toot". From 1967 to 1969, the train was out of operation while its new home was being constructed. In 1969 the train was reopened in Centralia until 1985. It was moved again, this time to Wildlife Prarie Park, near Peoria, IL, where it remained until 1993. Finally in 1993, Crown Locomotive #1 made a journey to a location in Reedley, CA. It operated seasonally at the Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm on the Hillcrest and Wahtoke Railroad.
Clint Green of Flora, IL, purchased "Little Toot" on August 1, 1998. On July 17, 1999, the newly formed Little Toot Railroad Company opened its doors to the public for the first time in thirty-three years. "Little Toot" finally came back home to Charley Brown Park. Construction began at Charley Brown Park on Saturday August 29, 1998. The new track covers nearly one mile through the scenic park and can accomodate several trains simultaneously.
The railroad has the following:
Not only did the railroad become home of Crown Locomotive #1, but also one of her sisters. Number 1966 was obtained from the Lake Shore & Lyndon Central Railroad.
Additional rolling stock includes the following:
And much more to come..............
Little Toot Timeline