When visiting Tiny Town in Colorado, you can expect to explore a collection of meticulously crafted small-scale structures. From historic buildings and landmarks to quaint homes and businesses, these miniatures offer a captivating glimpse into the region’s past.
With a legacy spanning over a century, Tiny Town provides an immersive experience that showcases the beauty of miniatures and the fascinating stories they tell.
Below, I’ll give you a good idea of what to expect if you plan on visiting Tiny Town.
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What is Tiny Town?
Tiny Town and Railroad is a miniature village containing over 100 1/6 scale buildings, located near Morrison, Colorado. The village features a variety of buildings, including a schoolhouse, a church, a train station, a general store, and a variety of recognizable structures. There is also a 15 inch gauge miniature railway that takes visitors around the village.
Tiny Town has a remarkable history that stretches back to 1915. It began as “Turnerville,” created by George Turner, who gradually expanded the miniature town until it reached a point where it was ready to be opened to the public in 1920.
During the 1920s, it became a tourist hotspot receiving 20,000 visitors per year which is really good considering the era and the difficulty of driving through the mountains. In fact, it was right up there with other tourist hotspots like the Buffalo Bill Grave.
Regrettably, Tiny Town faced a series of challenges in its early years. The vicinity of Turkey Creek made it susceptible to damage from multiple floods in the subsequent years following its opening. In 1935, a fire inflicted severe damage to the town.
Moreover, the rerouting of Highway 285 in the 1940s diverted tourists away from Tiny Town, causing a significant decline in visitors.
These combined factors posed significant setbacks for the attraction, impacting its popularity and visitor numbers. At this point, the venue struggled to stay afloat and was closed and put up for sale only for it to be devastated by yet another flood in 1969.
Then Lyle Fulkerson stepped in and in the 1970s made major restoration efforts including a zoning change, widening and deepening of Turkey Creek, and regrading of the railroad bed. Unfortunately Lyle would be tragically killed by a runaway train car on his way to Tiny Town in 1977. So once again Tiny Town would fall into disrepair.
Efforts were made to reopen Tiny Town in the 1980s but ultimately failed and the site closed once again.
But then in the late 1980s, The Northern Colorado Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) adopted Tiny Town as a civic project and helped to revive lots of the structures through a series of auctions. This allowed Tiny Town to re-open to a highly anticipated public in 1988.
After a period of challenges, Tiny Town experienced a resurgence in its fortunes. In 1990, the World Famous Tiny Town Railway was inaugurated, which further enhanced the appeal of the attraction. The following year, in 1991, Tiny Town saw a remarkable milestone as over 100,000 people visited.
With the exception of the pandemic-affected year of 2020, Tiny Town has remained open to visitors and has continued to expand, introducing new additions such as additional locomotives.
A visit to Tiny Town today invites you to reflect upon its rich and dynamic history, with its highs and lows spanning over a century. As you explore the miniature structures and immerse yourself in the intricate details, it’s worth considering the countless sightseers who have traversed these very grounds throughout the decades.
Starting from its humble origins as Turnerville, Tiny Town has persevered through numerous challenges, including floods and fires.
Despite these obstacles, it has managed to endure and maintain its status as one of the early and enduring tourist attractions in Colorado.
How to book a visit Tiny Town
Tiny Town and Railroad is a summer destination, typically only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Admission is very cheap and when we visited it was only five dollars for adults for entry to the village and only four dollars for the train ride. You can purchase your tickets once you approach the main entrance of Tiny Town.
Our experience at Tiny Town
We arrived to Tiny Town about 10 minutes before opening hoping to beat the rush but there were already a few people in line. This place can get pretty busy on weekends although it was not unbearable when we visited.
After purchasing our tickets we made our way inside and then made our rounds through the village.
For the most part, the village is built along a wide and long path that runs along flowing creek on one side and train tracks on the other side. There are some shaded areas but lots of the town is exposed to the sun so bring some sunscreen along to give you some relief.
One way to explore it is just to take a stroll down one side of the road and then make a U-turn at the end to explore the other side although sometimes you’ll want to meander through the “neighborhoods.”
If you ever need to go to the bathroom there are (human-sized) portable toilets located in various spots in the town.
Most people seem to go for the train ride first which allowed us to enjoy lots of the town without many people. We didn’t end up riding the miniature train but it looked like some kids and families were having a good time on it and considering how cheap it is, I don’t think the train ride could be a let down.
Related: Georgetown Loop Railroad: Worth It?
The detail in some of the buildings is really impressive.
Be sure to take a look inside some of the windows to see some of the fine details that were added to these mini creations. It’s evident that a significant amount of time and effort went into crafting these projects, as every nook and cranny is adorned with precision and care.
Some of the structures have some interpretive panels to give you some background information which helps you to appreciate what you’re looking at.
In addition to the detail, another thing that is impressive is the sheer amount of structures found in the village.
There are over 100 buildings but you can’t see all of them up close unless you take the train ride.
I found it interesting that they had re-created some buildings from the area like the Argo Mill, which you can find perched up on the hillside.
They also had buildings re-created from nearby mining towns like Georgetown and Black Hawk.
Other buildings are just sort of randomly re-created like the Addams Family mansion, which is a true work of art.
Another aspect that greatly appealed to me about the experience was the rich history associated with it. It’s fascinating to see structures like the schoolhouse that have been around for approximately 100 years.
In addition to the miniature displays, Tiny Town offers an opportunity to delve into its history through curated displays featuring photographs from its past. These visual exhibits provide a glimpse into the evolution of Tiny Town over the years, allowing visitors to witness the transformations, floods, and cherished moments that have shaped its story.
As you would expect, Tiny Town is a huge family/kid friendly destination.
There were only a few other adults without kids visiting so if you plan on coming without kids, you will definitely be outnumbered. With that said, the unique nature of the attraction and the opportunity to explore the miniature structures and learn about the venue’s history can still captivate adult visitors, whether they are traveling with or without children.
For those visiting with kids, the train ride, the chance to crawl inside the structures, and the playground located towards the end of the tour are bound to be highlights.
If you work up an appetite there is a café which serves up ice cream along with certain treats like chili dogs and popcorn. When we visited they only took the cash so be sure to bring some cash with you although they do have an ATM machine located on the inside.
And finally, there is also a gift shop although it is pretty small and definitely catered to smaller kids.
I had never visited any type of miniature town before so this was a new type of experience.
Considering the village’s uniqueness and rich history, I found it to be a fascinating destination for adults without children. Moreover, the affordable price point made it an even more appealing side trip.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.