A smiling train conductor waves at a crowd of parents and relatives as a group of children ride happily in three connecting cars made just for them.
This trackless attraction is run by the Daniel and Tara Martinez who own Brazos River Train Rides. The couple aims to bring joy to the children of Central Texas and offer families, churches and other organizations an inexpensive form of entertainment that won’t soon be forgotten.
The Martinez family were first introduced to the idea of a trackless train when they saw one at an Illinois festival several years ago. At the time, they didn’t know that this type of children’s ride would be a part of their future.
Daniel Martinez worked in the construction business for many years, but when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor almost two years ago he lost his ability to work.
“My wife and I thought of the train and thought, wouldn’t it be nice for me to drive a train so I didn’t have to work a strenuous job?” Martinez said. “So, we started shopping around.”
After months of searching, the couple found a man in San Antonio who was retiring and ending his trackless train business.
“We were able to purchase the train and that’s how I made my living throughout my all of my chemotherapy and radiation treatments,” he said.
Martinez began giving rides at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market, and soon he began getting inquires to bring the train to birthday parties, family reunions, fundraisers, and church and school events.
The business has become such a popular attraction that Martinez said those who are interested in booking the train should call at least a month in advance to guarantee their spot in the schedule.
And now, Brazos River Train Rides not only offers children the chance to ride on a realistic-looking train, but it also offers them the chance to get hands-on experiences with farmyard animals.
“We have ducks, chickens, chicks, dwarf goats, potbelly pigs, and rabbits,” Martinez said. “So, we have quite a little mixture.”
Although the petting zoo is an additional charge, Martinez said the price can be negotiable if a family or group wants to book the train and the petting zoo.
For more information about how to reserve the train and petting zoo, visit http://www.brazosrivertrainrides.com or call 254-349-1652.
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Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of two energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys running around with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects and home decor.