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All aboard! Gordon Smith steamed into history in the 1960s

Mariposa Special has moved around the waterfront but still holds a place near and dear to people's hearts in Orillia

Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by Marcel Rousseau.

Some were previously published by the Orillia Museum of Art and History and in the book Postcard Memories Orillia.

The Mariposa Special has long been a popular attraction at Orillia's waterfront. It was a live steam, coal-fired, 15 inch gauge, 3 inch scale model of the real thing.

The steam engine originated in North Tanowanda, New York in 1892. It was used in Ottawa and Toronto Centre Island before being bought by former CFOR Radio Station owner and MPP Gordon Smith in the early 1960s.

Gordon Smith’s train was located on the north side of Jarvis Street near the PAV. Mr. Smith operated the Mariposa Special each summer until 1972.

The white building shown was the City Steam House and was used to store the train until purchased in 1980 by the Orillia Rotary Club.

The Rotary Club moved the train to Centennial Park near the current boat launch; its first trip at the new location was on June 26, 1981.

In 1984, Rotary once again moved the train to allow the city to further develop Centennial Park.

By the summer of 1985, Rotary had rebuilt the steam engine, adding a caboose and moved 800 feet of track to the west side of Couchiching Beach Park.

The Mariposa Special once again was back on track entertaining thousands of visitors to our waterfront.




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