The romantic rumble of the wheels on the track, the whistle sounds in the distance as the train turns a corner. Train Mountain is the dream of rail travel—except it comes in a tiny package.
This 36-mile track stretches across a pine tree-covered Oregon forest and is for miniature trains. Not the sort found on a toy store shelf, but a ride-on type, just big enough to straddle. According to Guinness World Records, it’s the longest hobby railroad in the world.
Train Mountain is where miniature train enthusiasts, toting their “knee-high sized” locomotives, head to ride the 7.5-inch-wide track at speeds of up to five miles per hour through the beautiful Southern Oregon landscape. The diverse trains wind through appropriately miniature-sized versions of Wild West towns, logging camps, and a graveyard (which contains the ashes of one Train Mountain member’s mother).
The site also hosts meet-ups for hobbyists throughout the year. A keystone event is the Train Mountain Triennial, a gathering held every three years that brings together miniature train lovers from around the world.
Although the site welcomes visitors, those who want to engineer their own mini locomotive down the tracks need to be Train Mountain members. Some members buy their trains fresh out of the box and ready to ride, while others build theirs from scratch. One member estimates he’s spent around 8,000 hours over 10 years perfecting his train.
Train Mountain was founded in 1987 by Quentin Breen. Before he died in 2008, over 25 miles of track had been laid on the property. Since Breen’s death, the property has been under the care of the Train Mountain Institute, which has added a museum to further educate the public about railroad history.
The Train Mountain Institute continues to add track to the already record-breaking railroad and takes its role in the hobby community seriously. “For some people it is a bucket list item, to come here at least once,” said Train Mountain volunteer coordinator Jeff Mills. “Even though it’s a long ways from anywhere, it is known throughout the world. Everybody in the hobby knows Train Mountain Railroad.”
Know Before You Go
Winter hours: November through March, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Summer hours: April through October 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.