History of the #612
According to records the 612 arrived here at Marathon Park in Wausau, Wisconsin around May of 1952 (additional photos). The train is believed to have been purchased by the Police Chief, Everet Gleason. Over the years it's safe to say the train has been ridden by hundreds of thousands of people. Although documentation of it's 50 year run seems to be almost non existent. We have come up with a list of possible owners that have bought and sold the train along with the adjacent concession building and business. The county fair ground which the 612 is locate has also seen many changes including the children's wadding pool which started out as a swimming hole in 1800's. Long gone are the days of horse races, over the years playgrounds have come and gone from the park, a carousel and mini-golf course were added, and a new concession building. In 2002 a new 11,000 seat grandstand was also added to the fair grounds.
It is believed that the train was delivered painted in the Milwaukee Road orange and black paint scheme. Some time during the early 80's owner Ken Utech had the train painted to an orange and maroon color and donned it the Hiawatha (the 612 Hiawatha in a feature article in The Daily Herald, Focus section).
During the later part of the 80's Mr. Utech took on sponsorships to help support the cost of maintaining the train. A local gas distributor provided gas in exchange for signage at the train terminal. In 1998 needing a lot of restoration work and repainting Mr. Utech agreed to have the train sponsored by a number of local business, the biggest sponsor being Coca-Cola. Coke agreed to provide funding for restoration work on the train in exchange for having the train painted to the current Coca-Cola Choo-Choo (as seen on the home page of this web site). With the well needed restoration work completed and a new bright red and white paint job the train was ready to run for more generation of youngsters.
In may of 2001 the train was purchased by George "Chip" Winter and with my (Scott Winter) assistance entered into the world of the Miniature Train Company. Since taking over the operation of the 612 we have had many battles with maintenance problems, but after a year of research and lots of headaches we are finally making headway.
In May of 2002 the 612 turned 50 years old and continues to provide thrills to a projected 20,000 plus riders this year. The public is fascinated with the train questions range from can adults ride, to what kind of engine dose it have, to it is the same train that was here 20 years ago. While everyone agrees it's a sharp looking train most also long for the day when it was the Milwaukee Road, our hope is to some day return it to it's original colors.
Try our "virtual train ride" with Engineer Rick (click the video clip icon). I finally entered the world of digital media (although I haven't concurred it yet) here is some video I shot and pieced together of our train ride. I apologize for the poor quality video it was my first attempt at shooting video with my digital still camera. Hopefully I'll get the chance this summer (2006) to reshoot the video at a higher quality so it can be watch at full screen resolution.
The video should work with Window Media Player and you can click on the 'video clip/camera icon' if you would like to view the video an additional time or in a separate window. To stop the video at anytime right click on it and use the controls that popup.
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