Image via Storyland/Playland Facebook page
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The famous train that circles the 55-acre Earl and Muriel Smittcamp property located at the corner of Nees and Minnewawa avenues will live on at a popular park in west Fresno.
The Wawona Express train at 1265 N. Minnewawa Ave. in Clovis was donated to Storyland & Playland. During a ceremony Thursday, the train made its last ceremonial run before being loaded onto a flatbed truck for transportation. Known for Wawona Ranch Packing, the Smittcamp family has done extensive philanthropic work in the Fresno/Clovis community.
“I remember the joy my parents experienced when they were able to put a smile on a child’s face as they rode the train during a visit to the property,” Bill Smittcamp said. “And nothing would bring them more joy than to know their beloved train will continue to be enjoyed for years to come and on a much larger scale.”
With the transportation of the Wawona Express, there will now be two trains at the children’s amusement parks. Bruce Batti, president of Jeffrey Scott Agency and board chair of Storyland & Playland, explained the impact of the donation.
“This generous gift from the Smittcamp family means we now have an additional train along with our current Willis B. Kyle Express Train,” he said. “Without a doubt, train rides are our No. 1 attraction and are truly the lifeblood of the operation.
Since reopening Storyland in the fall of 2015, the parks have given more than 140,000 train rides to children and families. Last year alone, there were 40,000 train tickets sold even with the train being down 22 operating days.