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Hunter Park

Hunter Park

It was during the 1950s whenever Joe Hunter, who was very well known within Riverside as being an industrialist had realized that a lot of steam trains were disappearing from all railroads that were passing through the city of Riverside.

He knew that a lot of future generations would not really know the overall excitement of smelling, hearing or seeing the sounds of steam trains so he developed a vision that would last for many years. He thought about duplicating a steam train but more on a miniature size.

He then took 40 acres that surrounded his industrial complex, and had an almost 4500-foot railroad track built on the property which was located at the corner of Columbia Avenue and Iowa Avenue. While the railroad was in the process of being constructed, one steam train and three passenger cars were made. The steam up facilities were installed within the rear of the metal building which is now owned by Familian Pipe and Supply.

The trains were operated sporadically and had no set schedule at all. Eventually the property was donated to the city of Riverside and it was named Hunter Park. Whenever Joe Hunter had passed away, the city had a really unusual problem. They had a great recreational place, but there was no one who could maintain the railroad or even operate the train.

Eventually a group of interested railroad enthusiasts which was lead by Doctor John Creighton of Riverside decided to start negotiations with the city of Riverside to assure them that the 7.5-gauge railroad would not be neglected at all. It was during 1965 that the city council had decided to turn over the property to Riverside Live Steamers. It was their responsibility to maintain and operate the train. Then in 1966, the Riverside Live Steamers was incorporated using the laws within California.

It has been during the last 50 years that the Riverside Live Steamers has expanded the railroad by more than 10,000 feet and had built 3 buildings as well as a train station. With the help from the city, it was during 1972 that 6 more passenger cars were added to the train.

Around 21,000 passengers ride the trains every single year. The city owned equipment is supplemented by privately owned trains and cars. There are many times when there will be up to 4 trains going at once.

With the exception of some major items such as a new boiler, all of the equipment as well as the tracks cost the city very little money at all. All of this requires thousands of hours of volunteer work, but most of the Riverside Live Steamers have stepped in for over 45 years to keep the park and the facilities in the best shape possible.

This place gives thousands of people a chance to smell, see and hear what a steam train is all about. This is a great way for families to get outside and enjoy themselves, and has been for the last 50 years, it has really branched out to become something much more than what was expected.