There’s a magic place in the forest that’s laced with small-scale railroad tracks and small-scale trains. One Saturday per month (May, June, July, August & October), real trains haul passengers on a leisurely ride over bridges with streams below, through the woods and creeks, and around ponds. Freight trains are scattered throughout the tracks and at various train stations. You know we love the trains on the tracks at Lark Ranch, so visiting the Live Steamers Trains in the off-season is fantastic!
Indiana Live Steamers Little Train Rides
Local train group, the Indiana Live Steamers volunteer their time and their trains each Public Ride Saturday, to take children and adults on a fun ride through Johnson County Park on 1/8 scale trains and track.
Children and adults who love trains can be seen taking a ride aboard this 18-minute ride (10 scale miles) and you might even giggle to see the most enthusiastic train riders hop aboard over and over again — or maybe that’s you and your kiddo.
When Can You Ride the Small Trains in Johnson County Park
Public rides are run by the Indiana Live Steamers on the third Saturday of the month during May, June, July, and September (Heartnut festival is the first Saturday after Labor Day) and October. Indiana Live Steamers also has public runs during “Sparks in the Park” on the last Friday in June from 6 to 8:30 pm. You can also rent out the tracks and trains for a private party — we did this for our son’s 5th birthday party and it was amazing!
The trains run from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. on public run days.
Indiana Live Steamers: What You Need to Know
At $4 per ride, our family likes to take a ride at least twice each visit. The funds collected help maintain the trains and the train tracks and cover the liability insurance policy for the group — and this isn’t just a loop around or a straight shot, this intricate rail system has directional lights that keep the trains and their passengers safe and aware of nearby trains, there are horns tooted to be sure everyone knows you’re coming and the train will switch tracks many times during your visit.
When you arrive, park at the McClain Cabin Station and purchase your tickets at the ticket station. While you’re there, you’ll sign a waiver and get your hand stamped. Then it’s off to the platform to wait for the train or board the waiting train. The ticket taker will punch your tickets and share the rules as you climb aboard. And then you’ll be off on a fun adventure!
Seating is not actually “in” a train. You’ll be straddling a wooden block like a horse or a bike. Children can lean against their adults, but there’s no back support or anything to lean up against.
Rules to know: Wear play clothes and closed-toe shoes. You are not permitted to take photos or videos aboard the train. Trains cannot transport infants, pregnant women, and people weighing more than 350 pounds. Children under 5 years of age must have their own designated adult. Kids ages 5-7 must have an adult ratio of 1 adult for every 2 children and kids above 8 must have one adult for every three children.
At this time, there are no food or drink places nearby, bring your own picnic or eat before you come. Bring drinking water — it’s hot! There’s a single porta potty for a bathroom. Bring or wear sunblock and insect repellent.
Admission is cash only, $4 per person, per ride. You can ride on the 3rd Saturday of May, June, July, and September (Heartnut festival is the first Saturday after Labor Day) and October. Indiana Live Steamers has public runs during “Sparks in the Park” on the last Friday in June from 6 to 8:30 pm.
Train Birthday Parties
The Indiana Live Steamers group will let you schedule a train ride for a birthday party for only $150 (Prices are subject to change, this was the cost when this article was published.)
Where is Johnson County Park?
Johnson County Park is a part of the Camp Atterbury base and is run by the county. Several hobby groups call this park home — Indiana Live Steamers, the Columbus Model Railroad Club, and a Remote Control Flyer Club are a few groups that call Johnson County Park their home.
In the past, we haven’t been able to get to the Indiana Live Steamers using our GPS, but we recently typed “Indiana Live Steamers” into our Google Maps app and got there just fine. If all else fails, check the directions on the Indiana Live Steamers website.
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