Miniature trains are one of the greatest gifts old train nuts can give kids. Riding around on the small scale model trains is equal parts nostalgia and reality. You feel like you’re on a train ride (well, you are) with the sounds of the whistle and the clickety clacking tracks. The wind is breezing on your face like you’re leaning out the caboose and the scenery peacefully whistles by except you’re straddling a miniature version of the real thing.
There are two miniature train set up near Calgary, Iron Horse Park in Airdrie and another on in Nanton.
The one in Nanton is not quite as advertised. The sign outside may proclaim “Canada’s Largest Garden Railway” but it’s really just a spin around an old lady’s backyard. The Ultimate Trains store is great, with all sorts of models and cars and Thomas the Tank Engine gear – just skip the train rides.
The miniature train ride in Airdrie, at Iron Horse Park, is much grander. 1.6km of track weave around a field in what is to replicate a trip from Calgary to Vancouver. You make 2 1/2 loops of a mountain (crossing the Rockies) go around ponds and tressle bridges through tunnels and more.
If your kids love miniature train rides they’ll love Iron Horse Park and the work put in by the volunteers of the Alberta Model Engineering Society (AMES).