Miniature Railway
Concession

The Miniature Railway was a concession that had become popular since being invented in 1885 by Niagara Falls, NY brothers Peter and Thomas McGarigle. By 1898, they had become manufacturers for the Cagney Brothers, New Jersey showmen, and it was their Miniature Railway Company that installed 15-inch track on the Exposition grounds to run their scale-model passenger rides in six locations on the grounds. The map below shows each of the track locations.


Stereoview of one of the miniature trains.

For ten cents, passengers could board small, open cars and ride to the end of the line. The locomotives, called the Class D series, weighed 1,000 pounds and were 36 inches high from the base of the wheels to the top of the smokestack. They were steam-powered, their driving wheels 16 inches in diameter.

The tender, upon which the 'engineer' sat, was 22 inches wide, and weighed 200 pounds. It contained water
for the boilers. The combined length of the locomotive and tender was 9 feet, 6 inches.

Each of the cars were 6 feet long and 24 inches wide. (See the first photo above showing two adults seated side by side.)
The company pointed out how instantly the cars could be loaded and unloaded.


The 6 miniature train routes are highlighted in green on the map above.

The rides were not smooth, no doubt because the tracks were laid in a temporary fashion. The locomotives were said to be hard to operate, with minimal brakes and no springs on the tender for the engineer.

  
Front and back sides of the brochure handed out at the Expostion


Inside of the brochure, naming each of the 'lines' run at the Expostion. The only line that can be identified here is
The Pioneer Line, the longest, which ran from the East Amherst Gate to the Ordnance Building. According to the schedule,
the trains left every three minutes. The manufacturers advertised the trains' top speed at 10 miles an hour; it is likely they ran much more slowly on the grounds.


Beside the Esquimaux Exhibit


Moving past the Darkest Africa Midway exhibit


View from Darkest Africa, looking toward the Bazaar Building (left rear)


The "Colorado Special" operating near the Electric Tower

The appeal of the Miniature Railway was its size; most visitors had arrived at the Exposition on full-size trains, and this
was a novelty. They certainly could be used to travel from one part of the grounds to another, something foot-sore
sightseers would appreciate because the Exposition grounds were about one mile from south to north.

 

Two stories are associated with the Miniature Railway at the Pan-American:

1. "President McKinley road the Miniature Railway the day before he was assassinated."
Fact: no newspaper accounts suggest that the President rode any concessions or alighted from his carriage except to enter Exposition buildings. Such a story would have made good advertisement for the young Miniature Railway Company and they were the perpetrators of this myth.

2. "The train from the Pan-American Exposition was sold to the Crystal Beach amusement park."
Fact: no information can be found to verify this myth. Research by Cathy Herbert, expert in Crystal Beach history, indicates that Crystal Beach had a miniature train in the early 1900's, but there is no evidence that Cagney brothers tried to sell any of their trains at the Exposition's close; they were in demand and became more popular with the exposure brought on by the Exposition. That, and the fact that the Crystal Beach owners could have simply purchased a train from their Niagara Falls, NY neighbors who manufactured them, make this a myth.

 





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