Miniature Train in Stuttgart

Miniature Train in Stuttgart

By Roger Heid 

Right around 1950, or so, I got to ride on a miniature train, an experience I will never forget. This train is located in a park setting in Stuttgart, Germany. The park, called ‘Killesberg’, has a number of features, including a concert hall, an elaborate restaurant and an exhibition center. Then, of course, there is the mini train, a real attraction. Well, on that day I got to ride on it.

This was something totally new to me, something I had never seen before. It was way too big to be a model railroad. There actually were people riding on it. My parents bought tickets and shoved me into one of the passenger cars. The small seats were not very comfortable and the ride was kinda bumpy in some spots. I noticed that my step dad had problems fitting his long legs into the tight space.

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After the trip was finished, I did not want to get out of the train. I flat out refused to; I wanted to go again and again. My Mom and my Step Dad, a US Army officer, had to virtually drag me out of the car. I knew that bawling or throwing a fit would not buy me another ticket. My step dad had no time for any sniveling or bawling of mine. It would never get me anywhere. I decided that now was the time to try sulking. Judging by my success, I must have done an excellent job.

“Awright, Rog. Ride this darn train until your butt gets sore!” my dad yelled, handing me a couple of bucks. Back then, that was 8 Marks and 50 Pfennigs. The ticket stand accepted US Dollars, as about half of the attending public consisted of US Army personnel and their dependents. Anyway, I had enough money to ride on the train for the rest of the day and the next day. He strongly insisted that I ride by myself. I just loved my step dad, always did.

“When you’re all done, find us in the restaurant. Then you can have some ice cream and some Coca Cola,” he assured me, a big grin adorning his face.

You see, Coca Cola and ice cream were not commonly available on the open German economy, during those days. Real good ice cream was hard to find. Usually, I would get my fill of these two items in the Snack Bar on Patch Barracks, located in Vaihingen, a suburb of Stuttgart.

Two more rides on the train were all I could muster. I have to admit my butt did get sore, but the Coca Cola and the ice cream were really luring me to the restaurant, and I did not want to stretch my parents’ patience. You may call that ‘Mixed Emotions’.

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The 15 inch wide tracks describe a 2.3 kilometer loop through the park, a real scenic route. This train was first established back in 1939. The operation ceased sometime during WW II. It was no longer safe to be in that park, for obvious reasons I do not wish to elaborate on. This blog is not intended to be a war story.

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This miniature train still exists to this day, operating daily during the summer months. There are two diesel engines and two steam locomotives in service. The steamers are used only on special occasions. If you are ever in the Stuttgart area, you may want to check this out.

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In parting, I will say this much: After this experience I started to pay a lot more attention to real trains, especially locomotives. It had not been until that day that I was knowingly this close to a steam engine. In fact, prior to this experience, I was scared to come too close to a big steamer, because of the heat, the noise etc. The diminished size of the miniature steam loco made me lose that fear.

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A few years later, I rode on this train again. I refrained from asking the engineer to ride on the loco. There simply was not enough space for two people. There still isn’t.

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