Billy Puffer – A Real Steam Engine

The Matthews were very proud of Billy Puffer, Tiny Town’s steam engine-powered train.  It had a glorious whistle, the real clickity clack sounds, and actual steam rose out of its stack. Each of the wooden cars, open-air and without seat belts, contained two opposing benches and could seat 4-6 people.  The track comprised almost a whole block of perimeter, transporting riders first past most of the smaller TT rides, the restrooms, my grandparents’ mobile home, the stables, the parking area, and then into a loud and dark tunnel.  It was almost scary, a long and sometimes fast straightaway, and people didn’t have to be told to keep their arms inside the cars.  When you came out into daylight, whew, back to the known world, you’d see the merry-go-round, the drive-yourself boat ride and eventually the ponies working at the sweep.  Turning the corner, you’d arrive at Billy Puffer’s daytime spot, right on Olive St, (later Alondra Blvd).  At night, Billy would be driven to his tunnel, always a wild ride at breakneck speed if Matt wasn’t around. Everybody wanted to drive Billy Puffer, but it was a privilege not granted to everyone.

FAQs: What does the sign mean on the back end of the train?  Follow the Hearts to Salida Colorado. All I know is that Matt and Nana met in Salida, Colorado, and that’s where my mother was born.

Who built the steam engine?  There is a newspaper article that says Matt built it.  I know he built some of the rides, maybe he made the railroad cars, but the origin of Billy Puffer, the steam engine, is unknown.

Click on any photo to see a bigger version of it.

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