HYDRO, Okla. (KFOR) – Of all the rides gearing up on this cool evening at Oklahoma’s longest running free fair, the longest was for this little train that could.
“It is almost brand new looking,” says Dana Glasscock.
After all, it began forming back in 2018 for an extensive restoration.
When Rick Carlisle got his first look at the Century Flyer miniature train, he quietly wondered if his students at Meridian Tech in Stillwater would be able to bring it back.
Hundreds of his charges from seven different programs worked on it.
“They did a great job on it,” Carlisle beams. “It took a lot of hard work and many hours.”
Ride conductors Bill and Dana Glasscock ran this train for 25 years and kept it going as long as they could.
Seeing fair goers climb on this shiny rolling stock again is like stepping back in time.
“Everything is like brand new,” says Bill. “It was never this comfortable, never this shiny.”
The Flyer made its first circle in 1953 at the old Craterville Amusement Park in the Wichita Mountains.
Frank Rush keeps a picture on his phone of him driving it as a teenager.
On this Thursday night, he got the front seat for free and couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s just absolutely the most beautiful memory and thought we could have,” he says. “I saw it three years ago and didn’t think they could run it, but now it’ll run for decades.”
This train is powered by a Ford tractor engine.
Two circles take five minutes, but for the generations of riders who formed some of their first memories rolling over these tracks in Craterville, or in Hydro, it doesn’t matter.
What’s comforting to know is that it’s rolling again like it was meant to, on time for this fair and many to come.
Last year’s fair was canceled for the first time since World War I.
The 2021 Hydro Free Fair runs August 19-21.