After Outcry And Agreement, Miniature Train To Stay In Queen Wilhelmina State Park
MENA (KFSM) — A new agreement between Arkansas State Parks and the concessionaire means the miniature train is staying at Queen Wilhelmena State Park.
On May 18, State Park officials announced that the miniature train, a popular attraction at the state park, would be removed and the tracks turned into a walking and cycling trail as part of the nationwide “Rails to Trails” initiative.
But officials reversed the decision after an outcry from the public, according to a news release from Arkansas State Parks.
“Community members and park visitors made it clear they have strong emotional ties to the miniature train and want it to stay,” parks officials said.
The state struck a deal with the miniature train concessionaire, Ronnie G. Waggoner, at Queen Wilhelmina State Park to keep the train running. Waggoner was given permission to run the train, the miniature golf course and the gift shop/snack bar on the premises, according to the agreement.
The land below the state park served as a train stop for the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad in the late 1800s, and a hostelry was built for travelers. The property was named for Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who was crowned in 1898. The property changed hands several times until it became an Arkansas State Park in 1957. The miniature train was added shortly thereafter by the original concessionaire of the park.
The land for the train, golf course and snack bar will continue to be leased to Waggoner, who will maintain the properties, according to the agreement.