A miniature train, popular with children in the Sacramento area, was reported found Monday after it and the red trailer it was in were stolen from a Fair Oaks driveway last week.
“Friday night one of our member's train trailer was stolen from his property,” the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum reported on its Facebook page late Monday. “With the overwhelming response of this page and many others the trailer and trains were found today by the CHP unharmed. Thank you for sharing and spreading the news around our community. With 217 shares we reached over 11,400 people. What a great response by all. Thank you! You made one family very grateful today!”
KCRA reported the train was found just a few blocks from where it was last seen.
The 18-foot-long red trailer with the words “Santa Fe” emblazoned on the sides was stolen from the driveway outside Peter Welch’s home near San Juan and Pheasant roads in Fair Oaks. Inside, on custom-built racks, was a ride-on scale-model train, including an engine, two gondola cars, two boxcars, a flatcar and a caboose.
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Welch built several of the cars. His grandfather, James Welch, built the gasoline-powered engine and the caboose.
The entire train cost about $40,000 to build, Welch said. In addition, a lot of time and skill went into the work, including riveting, welding and painting.
“When you build a car from scratch, it includes going to the railroad yard and taking hundreds of pictures and measuring everything to scale,” said Welch. “Then there’s the time in the wood and metal shop, cutting, forming, designing and welding.”
Kids and adults would sit on the cars and take rides on scaled-down tracks. Some of the rides were given at the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers track in Rancho Cordova’s Hagan Park.
“I’ve been going out there with that train for over three years,” said Welch. “The train has traveled to 22 different railroads across the U.S.”
Welch had planned to take his train to Arizona next month, but said he had canceled those plans. Welch reported the stolen train to the California Highway Patrol.
He suspects the thief was targeting the trailer and not the train.