It Starts with a Square

All Aboard the Caboose!

BY Chelsey Handley

Nestled overhead the Side Car Market within the beloved Silver Caboose Restaurant resides a little “train town” that brings wonder and amazement to the youngest and oldest of eyes. Bob and Mary Jean Smith traveled to Jackson, TN to visit the Railroad Museum some 10 years ago and there sparked the idea to create the village you see today! Smith began collecting the train sets and built the 20’ by 50’ long track himself. Son-in-law, Bill Felton, built the stunning silver bridge that travels along the center of the market, connecting the front and back of the track. Instances have occurred where train sets have collided, leaving parts in disarray, so Felton continues to assist with maintenance of these moving parts.

Take a closer look into the workings of the little “train town” and you will see some familiar Collierville landmarks – full of great detail. A previous customer, who helped bring the track to life, donated replicas of the Smith’s home, Collierville Presbyterian Church and more! Trees and light poles are scattered along the tracks with the same look and feel of the lampposts on the Square today. “The trains are just a real draw for children” says Mary Jean. “It gives them something to look at while they are waiting… People can’t see everything there is, unless you really concentrate. It’s worth taking a minute to look and discover what’s up there.”

From across the street at her desk, Mary Jean can hear the musical sounds of another ‘train’ that also provides entertainment for little ones waiting on dinner to be served. The antique mechanical child’s train, located outside the front of the restaurant, has made quite the journey to its’ home at the Silver Caboose. At one point the train was in commission for a carnival and later found its way to an antique store in New Orleans. Five or more years ago Mary Jean and her son were passing through that store when they spotted the train. The owners were quick to inform them it wasn’t working – but with a little help from her husband and son-in-law, the train made the trip to Collierville, enjoyed a tune-up and now provides countless rides and smiles to our Collierville community!

May/June 2020 Tour Collierville Magazine