Talyllyn was the engine that Skarloey was based on.
Originally a slate line, carrying the slate from the quarries 7 miles away, the Talyllyn railway closed in the early 1950's, reopening 18 months later as a preserved line.
I have a number of favourite authors of children's books. As well as Dr. Seuss, I think that the Reverend W. Awdry is one of my favourites - author of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories which I loved as a kid, and now my own kids love them too. I met him once, on a balmy summer evening as an eight year old boy. He signed one of his books, his looping black handwriting the same colour as the long black cassock he was wearing, his long straggly hair white like the clerical that he wore round his neck. Today the book is lost, which is a shame. I visited the Talyllyn Railway in Tywyn, Wales lots of times as a kid, and as I pitched my tent last week near here, the train whistles reminded me of this place. I thought I should go and have a look.
The Rev had worked here as a volunteer and a guard back in the 1950's when the Talyllyn railway became the first railway in the world to be "rescued" after it had closed. He based lots of his stories on ones that actually happened.