But the park doesn’t want it to
look like Disneyland,” says John Riba,
NEOLS secretary and camp instructor.
The grounds feature a pole barn and
other structures that look like real-world
railroad buildings.
Launched in 2005, the three-day
camp is run twice each summer, in June
and August. Although slow to gain
attention, the camp’s popularity is well
established today. “We have a waiting
list for next year already,” says Riba.
At each session, 24 children aged
to 14 enjoy a wide range of railway-
related activities. They learn how to run
locomotives and how the switches and
signals work, apply air brakes on rail
cars, lay ballast to level the track and sur-
vey the railroad’s grade. Often, the kids
assemble and paint a railway car that is
put into service to carry visitors, includ-
ing their own families at the celebratory
picnic on the camp’s last day.
The camp has also proven to be a
good place for children with special
challenges. “Most of these railroad
camps have one or two campers with
moderate autism or some other disability
that does not fit into typical camps,”
says Beck. “They like that the trains are
Free public rides on the trains are
offered several times a year. For informa-
tion about the railroad camp or public
runs, visit
Staying at the Station
Looking for the perfect place to rest after
a trek on the Trans Canada Trail? The
Train Station Inn would be hard to beat.
The 1887 train station in Tatamagouche,
Nova Scotia, has been restored and con-
verted to a bed-and-breakfast teeming
with railway history and memorabilia.
Built by the Intercolonial Railway, it
is one of the oldest train stations in
Jimmie Le Fresne, the B&B propri-
etor, says the station has always been
a part of his life. “I grew up beside the
train station. As a
child, this is where I
played. I was a local
nuisance around the
An entrepreneur-
ial spirit has long
characterized his life.
He learned photog-
raphy in Boy Scouts
and, when an area
photographer moved
away in 1970, the
then 14-year-old Le
Fresne bought the
photography company
for $100. For years
he generated a steady
income shooting
pictures for the local
newspaper, school
yearbooks and wed-
dings. When in 1974
the town decided
to tear down the
Victorian train station
because it would be a tax burden, Le
Fresne says, “I went to the railway, and
I bought the train station while the rest
of the kids in my class were out buying
His goal was to preserve the struc-
ture, hoping one day it could be a
museum. “I had an agreement with
the railway that I wouldn’t do anything
with the structure] as long as the train
was running,” Le Fresne says. “Well, I
thought that might be six months or a
year. But trains ran for another 14 years.
Then one day, out of the blue, the trains
stopped running.”
It was the late 1980s and B&Bs were
coming into vogue. Since the train sta-
tion was designed to house a stationmas-
ter on the second floor, Le Fresne saw
an opportunity to transform the living
quarters into guest lodging. He took a
leave of absence from work and reno-
vated the property. Three years later he
opened it for business, with guest rooms
above and a gift shop and café on the
main floor.
Success bred another idea. Le Fresne
bought two railway cars to repurpose as
additional guest rooms. “They’re very
homey,” he says. “And you can touch
everything—the gauges on the walls,
the braking system that’s still there and
the whistles.”
More than a dozen old rail cars, dat-
ing as far back as 1905, are now on the
property, including a 1928 dining car
where Le Fresne offers homemade meals.
It’s quite something, this journey
I’ve been on,” Le Fresne says. “I’m still
here playing with trains. Everything here
has a story and it just keeps going.”
For information about the Train
Station Inn, visit
Refurbished rail
cars more than
a century old
provide a unique
option for
travelers along the
Trans Canada Trail.
Since it opened in 2005, the Railroad Camp in
York Township, Ohio, has grown in popularity,
with three-day camps run twice each