Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 7 January 2019

Daddy and the Pullen Park Train

Today would have been my father’s 101st birthday.

In thinking back about all the time I had with him (as well as the time I failed to have because he died well before “his time”), many memories have flooded back.

And one of the ones I’ve had chugging through my brain and heart the last few weeks was remembering what Daddy said he wanted to do once he retired.

Daddy said (and after his death, Mother confirmed it) that when he retired, what he thought he would have a great deal of fun doing would be serving as Conductor of the Pullen Park Train in Raleigh.

Two images of Grover Proctor Sr.

I don’t know if this was just a “wouldn’t it be fun to” kind of wish, or whether he did any kind of follow-up to see what might be involved to make that wish come true. But it seems clear that the Park, the train, the kids and families, and the whole beautiful ambiance of the location appealed to him greatly.

Unfortunately, Daddy died at age 64, and his final years were marred by the disease that eventually took his life. So nothing was ever able to come of his wonderfully lovely retirement dream.

Pullen Park train

If you are not familiar with it, Pullen Park was founded in 1887 and was the first public park in North Carolina. (It’s the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the country and 16th oldest in the world.) It is located on 66 acres adjacent to the original campus of North Carolina State University, just off Western Boulevard.

Pullen Park’s miniature train makes a five-minute circle of the park, taking families on a truly scenic and fun ride. According to the publication Pullen Park History, the current locomotive is “a one-third size, near exact replica of a locomotive, built in 1863 at the Danforth-Cooke Locomotive works in Patterson, New Jersey… Christened the ‘C.P Huntington C.P. #3,’ the locomotive was twenty-nine feet long and weighed thirty-nine thousand pounds when loaded.”Original Pullen train_cropped

The train shown in color above is not the one Daddy knew and wanted to run. Until it was decommissioned and retired in the 1970s, the Pullen Park train was of a more sleek, mid-century design. The black and white snapshot here shows how the conductor was elevated and the seats were in open-topped replicas of 1930s and -40s passenger cars.

Unfortunately, Daddy never got the opportunity to run either of the Pullen Park trains. So here, in his honor, is a link to a video which shows exactly what he would have seen (and what everyone who rides it sees) going around the Park. (It’s equally delightful to watch it with the sound off as with it on. Your choice.)

Love you, Daddy!


  1. One gift we gave to our youngest grandson this Christmas was to take him to Pullen Park to ride the train. Our family goes ever summer more than once and all our grands (9) just love it. Thanks for the story about your Dad and is most interesting!

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