By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
When they outgrow toy trains and accessories, they graduate to the real thing.
John Leynes, Jr., the son of Avice and John Leynes., Sr., of Cherry Lake (descendants of the Wood and Sutley families of Madison), is also an avid railroad enthusiast. He recently bought himself a custom-made track car and took it for a spin Friday morning, June 17, on a length of unused railroads tracks near the old Madison Welding sign off State Road 53.
Leynes, who now lives in Jacksonville, and his friend, Jay Boggs, met up with Paul Zaro of San Jose, Calif., to look over Leynes’ new prize possession, the bright orange Beaver Car, an exact replica of those manufactured by the Beaver Car Company of Canada. Zaro, who usually builds hot-rod cars out in California, built the little orange Beaver Car, custom-machining everything for Leynes. It was a $50,000 car, which he sold to Leynes for $17,000.
When asked about the strange company name, Boggs replied that Canadians were more apt to buy something named after a beaver, moose, or other native critter, so many companies in Canada name themselves accordingly.
The type of car Leynes purchased once zipped up and down tracks all over the country, inspecting tracks and signals, and transporting maintenance crews, but the they were rendered obsolete by the new hy-rail equipment, trucks with “drop-down” whe-els. The new hy-rail wheels could travel standard roads and highways to a section of railroad, and then “drop down” the rail wheels that allowed them to travel the railroad. The hy-rails saved time, needing no other vehicles to transport or offload them, and they eventually replaced the track cars. Companies stopped manufacturing them about a decade ago and many ended up rusting and disintegrating in junkyards and rail yards.
Leynes’ friend Boggs is also a rail car fan, and a fan in general of anything to do with railroads. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, he grew up in railroading family with grandfathers and uncles who worked for the railroad companies.
Canadians were more apt to buy something named after a beaver, moose, or other native critter, so many companies in Canada name themselves accordingly.
He also owns a track car, having purchased and restored one when he was still in high school in 1962. “That was at least a couple of years ago,” he joked.
Boggs and Leynes have traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard in rail cars, and Leynes had been looking for a rail car for sale for years. It was during a “stunning rail ride through Canada” in 2005 that he met Zaro, who would later build “the finest two-seater rail car in North America” for him.
Boggs, Leynes and Zaro are all members of NARCOA, the North American Rail Car Operators Association, an organization that coordinates information on unused rail lines and branch lines that track car enthusiasts use to travel all over the country.
“Anything to promote railroading,” said Boggs. “One way to solve our fuel problems. It’s a very efficient way to move.”