He Still Has a Big Love for Trains--but on a Small Scale

When Christiaan Anton was growing up in a small town in the Netherlands, he rode a train to his elementary school in the big city.

As a youngster, he thought it was thrilling to ride the steam-powered trains.

At 64, Anton continues to ride trains, but now he’s also the engineer of his own steam engine.

It took five years to build at his Fountain Valley home a miniature of a steam locomotive. He built the miniature on a scale of one inch to one foot. Anton also built a caboose and boxcars with removable tops to transform them into passenger space for youngsters.

He takes children on rides along his miniature railroad train layouts in Costa Mesa, Riverside County and Los Angeles.


“Nowadays, kids don’t know about steam locomotives, so I built one to show them about the old days when we didn’t have modern diesel or electric locomotives,” said Anton.

He said there is no bigger thrill than to take children on a train ride powered by his steam engine.

“It makes me feel good to see their faces as we go around with the steam pouring from my locomotive,” he said. “It’s also a good feeling to know I make it from scratch. I love to do those things.”

He uses a combination of distilled water and chemicals to keep the steel boiler clean and free from rust.

Anton views his trains as “an educational deal for the kids. I want to show them how we did it and maybe some of them will join our train club. That would be good, and it helps keep them off the streets.”

Anton makes the children happy, but he says he gets a charge out of it, too.

“I’ve always been interested in big and small trains since I was a child,” he said in his strong Dutch accent. “I would always get windup trains for my birthday and for Christmas.”

Now he makes his own.

“What I have is the love for the steam engine,” said Anton, a retired repairman for Northwest Airlines. “I feel good when the water is boiling and the timing, valves and pistons make it run good.”

Although he has taken the locomotive to layouts at Griffith Park in Los Angeles and one in Riverside County, he only recently powered the steam locomotive on the new model train layout at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa.

“It’s good to have a train line so close to home,” he said. The new train layout was created and built by the Orange County Model Engineers group. The Boy Scouts helped prepare the circular route and put down the tracks.

Next year the train line will be expanded to include a bridge, land grading and permanent rails to handle the miniature locomotives and rail cars.

Anton is not reluctant to travel long distances to take a ride on full-scale trains.

He recently returned from Chattanooga, Tenn., where he rode a train powered by a Baldwin steam engine, one of the first steam locomotives.

In the early days of their marriage, Kim and Mark Pound of La Habra Heights drove a Volkswagen Vanagon, which came in handy eight years ago during the birth of their son, Ryan, on the way to the hospital.

They noticed recently that Volkswagen of America--which advertises “There’s Always Room for One More"--was searching for “Beetle Babies,” children who were born in Volkswagens. The company said 400 babies have been born in their cars since 1964.

The company offered a $300 savings bond to anyone who could prove his or her child was born in a Volkswagen.

“I sent them pictures of me and the baby in the Volkswagen right after it was born,” Kim Pound said, “and they sent the $300 bond.”

Since Ryan was born, some things have changed.

The Pounds now drive a Jaguar.

It seemed only right that after studying the children’s story “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” the kindergarten classes of teachers Thais Sainz and Mary Voelkel at Grant Elementary School in Santa Ana take a real picnic.

The pupils were asked to bring their teddy bears, friends and parents to help them celebrate the two weeks of study on the book and to have a good time.

While most of the day was fun, the teachers--as teachers are wont to do--got in some extra teaching--on counting, sorting, graphing, sequencing and art.