Viola operates own railroad Saturday

Robert Blackford
Tim Imhoff of Muscatine plays the engineer on this railroad Saturday at the Viola Threshers reunion. The steam locomotive gave children rides throughout the day.

Viola had the only working railroad in the county Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008, albeit a limited one.

Fred Hansen of Peoria brought his miniature steam locomotive to town Saturday during the Viola Threshers Reunion and set up a small rail line which hauled children back and forth throughout the day.

"It was all built from scratch," said Hansen. The locomotive is fired by oil. The locomotive was built in Kansas City by Solar Engineering. It took 3,000 hours of labor to put together with materials totaling over $12,000.

Hansen and his wife tour with the train each year. This year they started in June and will run through September.

When he's not enjoying his hobby, he works in the tool room at Caterpillar in Peoria. "We go to shows about twice a month," said Hansen. He has traveled as far as British Columbia with his hobby.

Hansen inherited the hobby of miniature trains from his father who had an HO in the basement. He joined a model railroad club in the Peoria and the rest is history. He even met his wife through his love for minature railroads and the couple got married aboard a train.

"It's nice to have a wife that enjoys your hobby," said Hansen. The couple will travel with their train to Lincoln, Illinois and then to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.