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Improving the Layout

AVRR pond construction

Pond construction, 1971.

The railroad was completely rebuilt in 1970. The only pre-1970 track that remained stretched from the turntable, located on the mill race side of the carriage house, to the far right corner of the museum building. Improvements included the addition of a new trestle, tunnel, and pond.

Volunteer Bob Reilly pulling passengers

Volunteer engineer Bob Reilly pulling passengers along the new trestle, 1970s.

In order to establish a more manageable grade from the rear of the property to the West Yorklyn Station area, a new 90-foot steel double-track trestle was built across a former vegetable garden. The double-track layout continued through the newly constructed 92-foot Steam Hill Tunnel. 

Engine leaving Steam Hill Tunnel

Weldin Stumpf and engine leaving Steam Hill Tunnel, 1977. Photo courtesy Patrick Radebaugh.

Steam Hill Tunnel, added near the property entrance, was fabricated from three railroad tank car bodies that were dropped into a hand-dug trench, welded end-to-end, and then partially buried. When the tank car bodies arrived at Auburn Heights, several inches of hardened oil needed to be removed before they could be installed.

Paddle-wheel steamboat on pond

The paddle-wheel steamboat was powered by steam from a large boiler located in what was then a snack bar building (today housing bathrooms & storage) via a line extending from the pond’s central island, 1970s.

A pond that boasted a paddle-wheel steamboat was also added. Creating the pond required large amounts of fill to form the high bank that carries the Auburn Valley Railroad around its perimeter. An island was installed in the middle of the pond by lowering a section of concrete pipe on end and filling it with earth. 

The Magic Age of Steam closed in 1977 during its seventh year of operation. While the railroad fell into disrepair after that time and no trains were operated for 15 years, many of the improvements of that period remain for visitors to enjoy today.