a.k.a. Midget Beltline Railroad
The train apparently was built by Henry Lungstrom, a machinist and inventor in Lindsborg, Kansas. He had the track laid out, maybe in the 1950s, across the street from what is now the Old Mill Museum. I haven't been able to get much additional information about this early period.
(The train is 14-inch gauge, by the way.)
Henry Lungstrom (1891-1967)
(photo provided by Old Mill Museum, Lindsborg)
It looks like the train operated in Athletic Park only for 7 summers, 1962 through 1968.
The person whose name most often recurs in connection with the
train is Clinton Spencer. His obituary appeared in the Newton
Kansan Saturday, May 15, 1971.
from the Newton Kansan, May 19, 1962
"WORKING ON THE RAILROAD--Santa Fe section men were helping install the new midget railroad in Athletic Park this morning. Tracks were being laid in a big circle north of the athletic field. Directing the workers was W. C. Peters of 809 E. Broadway, a retired roadmaster. Clinton Spencer of 1721 Plum, a retired locomotive engineer who is in general charge of the project, said it is hoped the ride can be in operation by Memorial Day. Those helping lay the track included E. J. Gomez, John Arellano, Martin Lepe, Frank Flores, Sisto Avilla, Otho Blankenship, Manuel Perez, Ramando Jasso, John Martinez and Ramido Carrion."
After Newton, the train moved to Greensburg, Kansas, to a facility called "Burketown," a sort of historic-themed amusement park.
An article in the Dodge City Globe, June 29, 1964, by Farrell Brewer, "Houses Dream of Man," describes Burketown, created by father and son George and Larry Burke, on the west edge of Greensburg. It was started in about 1954 and included a replica of an old-fashioned business district, and old cars and equipment.
Here are 3 photos from Oct. 10, 1982, provided by John Matrow of Wichita. Since the Cotton Belt was the railroad operating through Greensburg at that time, the train had been painted with Cotton Belt logos.
In about 1988, persons in Jackson, Missouri, who were running the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway, purchased the miniature steam train to go along with their full-scale steam train operation. The photo and text below come from the 1989 edition of their Iron Mountain Gazette publication.
Another new addition to the railroad inventory last year was the 14-inch gauge, 4-8-4 Hudson Class steam locomotive and three miniature passenger coaches.
"This has been a great hit with both adults and kids, but especially the kids," said Adams.
The miniature steam train operates over 1,000 feet of track near the Jackson Depot.
Adams said the train was purchased in Greensburg, Ks., where it had been used as a tourist attraction in a village similar to Cape Girardeau County's Black Forest Village.
"I've been told there are only two of these miniature steam-powered trains in the United States," Adams noted. "We have one, and the other is located on Gene Autry's Flying "A" Ranch in Arizona."
The miniature steam train will run on weekends when the full-sized steam locomotive and passenger train is operating, Adams explained.
Iron Mountain Gazette 1989, p. 5
The train is still owned by a person involved with the St. Louis Iron Mountain railroad. It has not been operated for many years, but recently (2003?) underwent extensive machine shop restoration. They hope to be able to operate it again in the future.
I suspect that the comment about Gene Autry is inaccurate. I haven't found any indication that Henry Lungstrom built more than one of these.
A series of photos I took of the locomotive in storage (Mar. 12, 2005):
A few years ago I was given this Jaycee Short Line Railroad stock certificate by someone who thought it was related to the Athletic Park train. Actually it was a promotion in 1955 when the Santa Fe 1880 full-size steam locomotive was moved to Newton's Military Park.