UP CLOSE

Up Close: Train Room Transports West Valley City Seniors To Bygone Era

Sep 5, 2019, 11:01 AM

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – There are so many activities to choose from at the Harman’s Senior Recreations Center — from jewelry classes to sign language and exercise classes.

Tucked away on the lower floor is a special room that takes you back to a time when life was simple. Gas was 53 cents a gallon, and trains ruled the road ways.

It’s a model train room, and the engineers running the place are Lee Fels, 80, and his lovely wife Neva, 76.

The Train Room at Harman Senior Recreation Center in West Valley City.

The Train Room at Harman Senior Recreation Center in West Valley City.

“You won’t find anyone holding a cell phone in any of these parks,” said Neva with a laugh while pointing to the landscaping features in the room.

The Fels said they become kids again every time they step into the room.

It’s more than just playing with trains, though. It’s bringing this town of 230 people, 60 animals and dozens of buildings to life.

“This gun is actually pointing at our ski hill over here. We use that for avalanche control,” said Lee as he showed off some of his landscaping features.

Lee and Neva Fels in The Train Room at Harman Senior Recreation Center in West Valley City.

Lee and Neva Fels in The Train Room at Harman Senior Recreation Center in West Valley City.

“The chairs all stay in place and nobody falls out,” he said, referring to a Ferris wheel in a carnival.

Pointing to another area, Lee said, “I got a bunch of fisherman down there and unfortunately I didn’t tell them, but they are never going to catch anything because I couldn’t find fish that small to put in that pond.”

The Fels are all about adventure. From hot air ballooning to skiing to sky diving. In fact, they have more than 180 jumps between the two of them.
But they’ve always had special love for trains.

They’ve traveled the country so far on 68 different trains. Thirteen years ago, they took over the train room at Harman’s senior center.

It’s the same place in West Valley City were Pete Harman, the man who opened the first KFC franchise, grew up.

“We have a Kentucky Fried Chicken because the person that started this place was Mr. Harman,” said Lee.

As fun as this room is for the Fels, there is a purpose behind it all: helping those seniors who come here to feel young again.

“You can only think about happy things here because it’s a happy time,” said Neva.

KSL 5 TV Live

Up Close

(Becky Hansen, Smile Creations Portrait Studio, St. George, Utah)...

Angie Denison

Up Close with Shawn Bradley

Last year, NBA legend Shawn Bradley was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in St. George. The accident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. In an exclusive visit, KSL returns to the crash site with Shawn and his wife.

2 years ago

(KSL TV)...

Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: Girls Wrestling Booming In Utah

Once a real shocker in high school sports, girls wrestling has becoming one of the most popular growing sports in the country. That’s why the season may be over but practice continues for many girls.

4 years ago

Albee Bostrom and Sissy McDade turned their love of thrift store shopping into a business: Thrift H...

Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: Young Entrepreneurs Turn Thrift Store Shopping Into Full-Time Business

A simple hobby of thrift store shopping has turned into a full-time business for a couple of young entrepreneurs in Utah County. They’ve now opened up their very own unique thrift store with a flash to the past. We are talking about the 1980s and 1990s era.

4 years ago

Courtney Kimball and her sister Kym Frey help women living in the slums of San Pedro Sula, Honduras...

Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: ‘One Common Thread’ Organization Helping Women In Poverty

Two Utah sisters - one now living in one of the most dangerous cities in the world - are helping to bring women out of poverty by teaching them a skill that’s giving them new hope.

4 years ago

A BYU project called the "Rheumatic Relief" project is helping to heal children's hearts and save h...

Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: BYU Project Tests Samoan Children For Heart Conditions

A BYU project tests Samoan children for heart conditions, helping to heal damaged hearts and save hundreds of lives.

4 years ago

...

Dan Rascon, KSL TV

Up Close: West Jordan Girl Sings Her Way Into National Spotlight

An eight-year-old girl from West Jordan has won an incredible award. She became the Grand Champion Vocalist of the year in the 25th annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio, Texas.

4 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Up Close: Train Room Transports West Valley City Seniors To Bygone Era