Iconic Wawona Farms train to soon have new Valley home at Storyland & Playland

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- The sound of the train's whistle was sweet music to the Smittcamp family and friends who sat on board and watch the locomotive make its final run in Clovis on Thursday.

Bill Smittcamp served as the conductor for his grandchildren as the family took one last ride.

"With our grandchildren, there are a few tears about this leaving the property, but overall I think we are blessed."

The train was purchased 25 years ago by Bill's parents, Earl and Muriel Smittcamp, peach farmers and philanthropists.

It was initially planned to go into a kiddie park, but complications forced them to move it to their Nees and Minnewawa property.

In its time its given thousands of rides to kids both big and small.

Although this is the end of the Wawona Express, the train will soon be pulling into another station at Storyland & Playland.

First, the train will be loaded on a truck and worked on by the train specialists at Hillcrest Farms in Reedley.

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One of those specialists is Sean Bautista, "We will be doing an evaluation on the train to see how compatible it will be with the Roeding Park train system. That involves the state and getting it through their inspections, but also making it reliable and runnable."

Bruce Batti of Storyland & Playland couldn't be more thrilled with the donation.

He says the train is, "The lifeblood of our parks. Kids want to ride the train. Whenever some child comes up, and the train is not running, we say, 'We have to figure this out. We have to solve this problem.'"

Thanks to this donation, the park will eventually have two trains. The second train should be up and running in early 2019.

Bill says, "It is what my parents would have wanted. To make kids happy, to see their smiles. So they are smiling at us right now."
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