LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A popular model railroad has only a few more weeks to find a new home.
The Platte Valley and Western Railway had been housed on The White Fence Farm restaurant property for about three years.
However, about a month ago the restaurant announced gets closing its doors for good.
This is the second time in recent years that the model railroad has had to make a major move.
“We spent 35 years in the basement of Union Station,” said Ed Sargent, the President of the 501(c)(3) that runs the railroad. “We got kicked out of Union Station by the hotel.”
The move ended up being a good thing for the model railroad because of all of the foot traffic from the restaurant. It hosts dozens of people each night who are eating at the restaurant.
“We’re probably the most popular model railroad in Colorado in terms of crowds, mostly because of the restaurant,” Sargent said.
Because of the amount of time it takes to put the railroad together and get each tiny part working, the group has only used about half the space and boxes of track have been left untouched since the move.
Now, the owners are scrambling to find a place that’s big enough to house the railroad.
“We need 1000 ft.² in an area that has a lot of foot traffic and families,” Sargent said.
However, they’re only able to afford about $300 a month for rent. The model railroad hasn’t been collecting admissions in all the years it’s been at The White Fence Farm since the track and scenery are incomplete.
The group tried looking in Denver, but with skyrocketing rent, they couldn’t find a feasible space.
“We had to relocate to Denver lots of luck in finding space in Denver,” Sargent said. “The big deal is the economy and real estate is kind of hurting us to find something.”
Now, Sargent is working with the Lakewood City Council to see if there’s a way they can stay in the city the railroad has called home for more than three years.
“We met with City Council two weeks ago and they seem to be very interested, in fact they called us back Monday and they want us to come down and meet with their assistant city managers,” Sargent said.
The group is set to meet with the city again on Thursday to discuss their options.
Sargent says with all this growth, it’s important for old model railroads like this one to stick around and teach younger generations.
“History for one. It’s the only way kids nowadays learn about how Colorado growth. Colorado grew because of the railroad, because of mining. The mining community only grew because of the railroad,” Sargent said. “That’s where you learn about how America works from the railroads.”
The railroad will officially close down to visitors on Sunday. After that, Sargent and those who work on it will have until the end of January to deconstruct and move it.