Sportsman Lake Park train

The Cullman County Commission has approved the purchase of a second train engine for Sportsman Lake Park.

One of Sportsman Lake Park’s biggest attractions is about to get just a little bigger, thanks to the upcoming addition of a second locomotive engine that’ll help keep the park’s popular train ride running.

The Cullman County Commission approved on Tuesday the purchase of a second train engine for the park, awarding a $50,000 bid to Western Train Co. of Temecula, California for a far more modern engine than the 1960s-era machine that hauls guests around now.

Cullman County parks director Doug Davenport said the old engine won’t be taken completely out of service, but it will see some much-needed rest (and repair work) once its newer, three year-old stablemate arrives.

Ongoing maintenance problems with the current engine have resulted in an estimated $16,000 in missed revenues this year, since the park can’t collect its $4 per-rider admission if the train isn’t up and running.

“The one we’ve got is a ‘62 model, with a Ford tractor motor and a car transmission,” said Davenport. “Parts are obsolete for it, and we’ve been down for about three months while we wait for it to be repaired.

“The one we’re getting is newer and nicer, and it’ll be great to have the backup. Especially at popular times like Christmas, we have a lot of people waiting in line to ride the train, and we’d love for it to always be running.”

There’s no firm timeline for the new locomotive to arrive, but county park officials will have to make the trip to Western Train Co.’s California headquarters to pick it up. Until then, Davenport hopes the current machine will patiently keep on chugging.

“The train makes about $65,000 per year for the park. It’s the biggest moneymaker the park has, so we’re really getting a bargain, in the long run, in terms of revenue. We’re really looking forward to getting a second engine, and we’re just hoping we can hold out until both are up and running.”

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