The train that travels overhead is a Mawhinney family idea that originated in 1984. Max Mawhinney wanted to celebrate the history of the Heber Creeper and the Denver Rio Grande Railway. Way back in Heber City’s history the train would deliver supplies to Heber City and sheep to Salt Lake City. Today the train is used as a tourist attraction. In 1998 when the Mawhinneys built their new building, they wanted to celebrate the history of the Heber Valley. So they hired local artist, Steve Strebel, to create a replica of the Heber Valley. The main entrance reveals scenes of the Heber Valley landscape: Timpanogoes to the West, Jordanelle Reservoir to the North, Deer Creek Reservoir to the South, and the Red Ledges to the East. Along with the painted scenes there are physical representations of the Granite and Red Rock cliffs.
Over head of the dining area, historic scenes rest along the track. The first corner the train arrives at is the Indian scene. Heber Valley’s history started with the Indians who lived here long before pioneer settlers arrived. Pioneers moved into the area about 1848 and took over Heber Valley. The next scene the train stops at is the Heber Valley city center and main street. Looking closely will reveal the Mawhinney Cafe. This was the original restaurant that opened in 1946. Also there is the Heber Valley train station with some waiting passengers and cargo ready to be shipped to Provo. After the train depot, the train passes a painting of the Heber Valley main street and then on passed Heber Feed and Stock. Not only was the stock yard the main stop for the train, but also the artist’s, Steve Strebel’s, father delivered the sheep.
The main train is a replica of the Denver Rio Grande engine used in the Heber Valley so many years ago. There is a detailed blue print of this engine in the hallway near the restrooms. Because of the strenuous all-day operation of the trains, the Mawhinneys have a total of eight train engines. These engines have to be traded and serviced every two weeks. Also during Christmas there is a special Christmas train with Santa Claus as the conductor. These scenes are built to perfect scale. Along with the great scenes take time to look at the detail put into the tunnels and paintings. While looking over the train scene, be sure to keep your eyes open for hidden items such as pigeons making a nest, deer, and even a train robber.