Diana's PTA group had a membership drive today at one of the county parks, where they happen to host a fantastic group of model train enthusiasts that maintain and run a series of 7-1/2" gauge trains.
It's pretty much the most awesome thing ever.
I've never had any interest in large, full-size trains. I've lived near an old scenic rail line for most of my life, and never endeavored to ride one. I did, however, take an interest in model trains when I was a kid, though I never had any space to permanently build and model something. I had a big old wood panel that was so smooth that the HO-scale train I had would push the turns out until it derailed.
In adulthood, I have a friend that engineered model roller coasters, and from that friendship (and some work on their former Web site a million years ago), scored a lot of those "toys." That was way cooler. You don't have all of the switches and that kind of thing, but it's a lot more dynamic.
The trains at the park are all privately owned, as far as I can tell, and the volunteers maintain the rail lines and their engines. They even have a day camp where kids can learn how to build the seating cars. There are many switches, lights, bridges and other props. They even have a huge maintenance area where they get the cars and engines up higher to work on them.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Simon was really into it. When he saw me crawling around one of the trains to get a closer look, he ran right over and did the same thing. That was pretty adorable. Despite the odd, cold day, we really had a good time, and we found a hidden gem right here in our own county.