JULY 2016 Updates

Well hello everyone, I know it has been over a year since I have updated written anything. I have been kind of trying to rethink things as far as railfanning and model trains. After taking a year and half off from the working world, I got a job in May 2015 as an United States Postal Service Rural Mail Assistant. So that keeps me on-call everyday to back up the regular rural carriers in a three postal code area. I still found time to do a couple of On The Road trips for the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (aprhf.org). The I Got to visit with the editor of Passenger Rail Journal, Mike Schafer at his office outside Rochelle, Il. Then next at couple of moths later headed to Monticello, Il and the Monticello Railroad Museum. I was really amazed at the preservation work they are doing. I was a great visit. In October 2015 we headed to Mississippi to the McComb Railroad Museum. It had been on our most recommended by listeners list ever since I started hosting the podcast. On the way back home, We stopped off for a site visit at the Vicksburg National Military Park since we would be talking with them the next week. As most followers know I love American Civil War history and National Park Sites in general, so this was a treat. I am most surprised by the amount of NPS sites that have a railroad feature or history with the unit. Vicksburg didn’t disappoint either.

The town is almost stamped in time. The views of the River are a sight to behold.The railroad bridge and depot are must see’s. The railroad cut through  the NPS unit is a great railfan picture spot when the trains come through. The locals are most inviting and offered great hospitality when asking questions. The next week after getting back, I got to interview Ken Patterson about his model building and model picture taking fame. He truly is a world class artist.

I got a weekend off call in November to head to the TrainFest in Wisconsin. It was another long requested place to visit by podcast listeners. I took my wife and another couple with us whom we know through our garden railroad club. We headed up north from the St. Louis area, stopping in Rochelle for a quick windy visit to the diamonds there. We arrived in Milwaukee about 2:00 in the afternoon, unloaded and setup in the convention center at the State Fair site for TrainFest, then checked into the Crowne Plaza, an IHG property the lodging sponsors of the Let’s Talk Trains show and had dinner a a Firehouse Sub shop nearby. The next morning headed back for the first day’s broadcast from TrainFest, Then came back to the hotel for dinner, On Sunday, headed back for the second day’s broadcast. It was pretty cool to hear the recorded announcement as guests entered the lobby that we were here broadcasting. We were set up right next to our partners, APRHF Rail Rangers. They had all sorts of stuff on their table, they were selling. They even had the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger ambassador there on Saturday, we interviewed here too.

December was a very a busy month for the US Postal Service and I, only had two days off the whole month. Christmas packages kept us very, very busy. It carried on into January for a couple of weeks. I would either take the last 1/4 of a regular carrier’s route or just deliver over-sized packages. I learned a few more areas because of the the packages.

February meant that I could visit with the folks at Applied Imagination, the company that build most of the train layouts at the world’s botanical gardens. It was a fun interview to do, learned a great deal with the folks. Then later in the month, after having to turn down an invitation to ride on the Amtrak Inspection train that was going to tour the old route  between New Orleans and Jacksonville, I found a stand in that I could interview, Doug Alexander. He provided a recap of his trip and his observations.

March came and I took a Saturday off to do another listener requested On The Road shows. We once again asked our garden railroad friends to travel with us. We left Washington, at 5:00 and headed east on I-44/I-64, we picked our garden railroad friends up in along the way.to North Carolina. Just as we were pulling into Marion, Illinois, the police were making everyone off the highway, we then started a 25 mile detour to get back on I-24.  Did I mention that it was a driving rainstorm. We stopped off at the NPS Fort Donleson and USFS Land Between The Lakes. We then continued towards North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains. Our host hotel for our night was the IHG, Holiday Inn Express Cherokee.  We got to tape a show on the first train of the season of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. The four of us got to travel on the Moonshine car with the General Manager of the railroad. The staff even surprised us with a BBQ lunch. The next day we visited Chattanooga and IHG, Holiday Inn Express-Lookout Mountain for a little while. We spent the next day in Nashville at IHG, Holiday Inn Express-Lebanon. We made it back to the St. Louis area on Sunday, a four day road trip. I got to work a couple days at the Post Office when I got home.

April rolled in and found another weekend that my wife and I could escape for a three day On The Road trip. This time it was Texas. A fan favorite, the Rosenberg Texas Railroad Museum RailFest. My wife was able to get off the whole day Friday, so we set off at 5 am again this time taking Missouri 47 south to US. However, about an hour into the trip the LTT Canyon developed a problem. The infotainment system crashed, no radio, no GPS etc. So we stopped off at the GMC dealer in Poplar Bluff, to get it looked at. After spending an hour and a half and them not finding anything wrong, we continued out travels down US 67 towards Little Rock. and Interstate 30. We then got on US 59 to Houston and then spent the night in Sugarland at the IHG,  Holiday Inn Express-Sugarland. We then got up early on Saturday and headed to Rosenberg. On the route over the truck emailed us that our right rear tire had an issue. So did the RailFest then found a Walmart to have the tire looked at. The tech found two nails in the tire. We we called AAA and had the tire changed to the full spare. Then on Sunday we headed back via the NPS Fort Smith National Historic Site. Then back home and USPS work.

May came very quickly and our visit to Wichita, Kansas.We left on a Wednesday and headed Southwest again down Interstate 44 to MO Hwy 7, We went trough Lake of the Ozarks and spent the night in Nevada, Missouri at the IHG, Holiday Inn Express-Nevada. The next morning, we visited Fort Scott, KS. Fort Scott is the home to NPS Fort Scott National Historic Site. I do believe that Fort Scott has a better layout and historic preservation going on than that of Fort Smith. We spent about four hours in Fort Scott, then continued westward to Wichita, and our base hotel for this trip the IHG, Staybridge Suites-Wichita Airport. I had lived in Wichita for three months while I worked for a school bus company back in the 1990’s, so I spent the evening driving around trying to remember where I lived and traveled and trying find the location for the show taping.. The next morning headed back to Botanica. Botanica is the botanical gardens for Wichita. They have a small but packed garden railroad layout. We interviewed a city council person, the Visitor’s Bureau Director, The Economic Development director, overseeing the rebirth of their Union Station, Great Plains Transportation Museum, Botanica Director and volunteers that man the railroad garden. After being treated to BBQ at a local restaurant Thursday night we, headed to Kansas City and a personal tour of the KC Streetcar Office and maintenance facility then a ride on the streetcar a week after opening. As you may remember, I have been a big supporter ever since having them on the podcast three years ago as they first launched planning. And got to see how it reacted to rain. Then back east on Interstate 70/MO 47 to Washington, MO.

I got to work an average of four days a week in May. June came in with a heat wave. So work became very interesting. I love delivering mail and packages to people. People are always surprised when we come on Sunday with Amazon Sunday packages. Some people are sorry that we are working on Sunday, but, I tell them that is actually my Tuesday, since our work week starts on Saturday. Since I work on Sunday I have missed a the Gateway Garden Meetings but attend the gathering a couple of times. Our personal garden railroad is still stuck in planning stages due to funding, but, still will be built.

By the way. The Let’s Talk Trains Senior Host/Producer is getting married in October so he has been very busy planning that, so he has not been able to catch up his episodes or the Let’s Take Trains website which is understandable. We are looking for volunteer hosts and volunteer web producers. If your interested, contact him at nathan@letstalktrains.com/



Closing out 2014

Greetings and Happy New Year Everyone. I hope as I write this that each and every reader is ready for a fantastic 2015. 2015 marks the start of the fourth year I will be hosting the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s Let’s Talk Trains LIVE Weekly Podcast. I am really learning a great deal about railroad museums and railwatching spots, along with more model railroading things that I ever though possible. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I traveled to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas this last year. We were able to be Grand Marshals in a parade and Special Guests of several cities. We both feel very honored to be able to get to see so much of our wonderful country. We enjoy  being able to showcase museums and towns to the rest of the railfanning world.

One the biggest thrills of 2014, occurred the last two days of October and first two days of November. Those were the days that we spent in Kansas City, Missouri. The Union Station Kansas City is opened on October 30, 1914, so the station celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary during those four days. There was a big gala, an exhibit dedication, a gigantic re-dedication ceremony. It was so big of an event that Mrs. Shuttletrain and I had help from the Midwest host (KC Nathan) and half of the Pacific Northwest Hosts (Bob Alkire), come into town and help with doing the shows. The first LIVE show was the Dedication of the new History of Union Station Exhibits and the Smartphone APP. After this; Bob, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I headed over to Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant for a quick lunch bite, then  took a VIP Tour of the complete KC Streetcar construction by the Project Manager. Wow, it was incredible. Even in the cold weather they are pouring concrete for the maintenance facility and for the tracks along the route. The route by the way will run from the RiverMarket on the north to Union Station on the south stopping in downtown and Crosstown along the way. We then headed to the National World War I Museum to tape an interview with one of the archivist that would be played the next day during the regular show. Aterwards,  we went back to our headquarters hotel, the Crowne Plaza-Downtown, to rest up and wait for KC Nathan and his friends to join us for dinner. Fiorella’s Jack Stack’s BBQ is where we decided to go, which is in the FreightHouse District right next to the railroad tracks across from or behind Union Station Kansas City. Some of the best BBQ in KC. We ended up staying and talking until the place closed. On Saturday, the Grand Re-Dedication Ceremony was attended by numerous civic dignitaries. We streamed the ceremony LIVE and then did our regular weekly show from the Grand Headhouse hall. We interviewed various Union Station Officials and people that were there for the event. It was a historic event, so in honor of the event for dinner we chose to go to Pierpont’s, located inside Union Station. Wow, Wow is all I can say. World Class Food. Great Staff. Afterwards, we decided to go back to the hotel and rest our feet after standing on them on the Terrazzo floor. On Sunday, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went to the Official Hallmark Company Store to pick our Christmas Cards and Ornament. Sunday afternoon, found our weekend coming to an end. We took our friend Bob back to the airport and then drove back to Washington, Missouri.

Thanksgiving came upon us quicker than Mrs. Shuttletrain wanted. We spent the day first with her family and having a great lunch. After filling up and topping off with pumpkin pie, we headed over to my aunt and uncle’s house for my family gathering and more food and fun. We were truly blessed to have time to spend with our families. I made us very aware of those that could be with their love ones on that day because of jobs or service.

The calendar showed that November became December and that we would soon be heading to Belleville, Illinois to load in the Gateway Garden Railroad Club’s modular layout for a month long display at Oliver C. Joseph’s car dealership.  Be sure and see the video about the railcar the owner has in dealership and the talking moose. The dealership had a BIG open house the second Saturday of December that drew quite a few folks. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went over a few times a week during the month to run our trains I also did the show from the dealership three times during the month. Met more nice people and introduced them to the APRHF’s Let’s Talk Trains podcast. We even brought a friend over one Saturday to play trains with Mrs. Shuttletrain while I hosted the podcast, then drove through one of oldest drive-through Christmas light displays at the National Shrine Of Our Lady Of The Snows and had dinner at their restaurant. More great people, great lights and food.

I love Christmastime and only my wife loves it more. Mrs. Shuttletrain decorates the tree and the inside of our home with lots and lots of lovely Christmas themed items. It take about five trips to the basement from me to bring it all up to her. Oh, I forgot about the four closets that i find stuff in too. I love My Dear!. Christmastime is a little rough for me, because people I cared about are no longer with us, but, my family, friends and neighbors make sure that I don’t have to worry about getting sad. Christmas was cool this year. Since we mailed our Christmas Cards a little late this year, it was neat to see how many we got back, NONE and how many people sent us one, over 80. Our list is getting slimmer and slimmer each year, but, as we some, we are adding some too. For Christmas went to my wife’s sister’s house for Christmas lunch and then to my cousin’s house for dinner. Again, I am surrounded by people that know how to cook wonderful meals and know how to eat.

Last Tuesday, December 30th, went up to Laplata, Missouri to the American Passenger Heritage Foundation’s Headquarters to meet with the President of the APRHF, who is also the Executive Producer of the Let’s Talk Trains Show and the other Coordinating Producer, KC Nathan. The meeting was held in the Amtrak station in Laplata, Missouri, a small town just south of Kirksville, Missouri in Northeast Missouri. The meeting was about three hours long. We had a great deal of things to discuss, mostly what 2015 will bring for the LTT show. Afterwards, checked into the Depot Inn and Suites for the night. The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation also has a Railroad Lookout that is heated that you can visit and watch the BNSF TransCon. Or you can do what I did, watch from the comfort of you hotel room via a LIVE Stream Webcam on your television 24/7. I turned in about 1 am. then got back up to a very, cold -1 degree morning. Glad the room was nice and toasty all night. Went to the lobby for the continental breakfast and chatted with the APRHF and National Park Service’s Trails and Rails team members that also spent the night at the hotel waiting to catch the Amtrak Southwest Chief back to Chicago that morning. Great people, very friendly and well versed in the history of the area that the train runs through.  Did I say that is another service of the APRHF? Came back home on New Year’s Eve afternoon to a little warmer Washington, Missouri. Had a great New Year’s Eve at home with Mrs. Shuttletrain except for all the amateur fireworks and Semi-Automatic gunfire.

Looking forward to a great 2015. We will take down the GGRRC modular layout the first Saturday of January, then put up for the Great Train Expo in St. Charles, MO then again the following weekend at the Winter Train Jamboree in Carlisle, Illinois. Hope to see some of you at one or both of the events. Until then or next time we wander together. Please remember Be Safe. See Tracks Think Trains

Fall has pulled into the station

Happy November everyone. As I start to write this entry, Unites States of America is suppose to be celebrating it’s Veteran’s Day. Growing up in a very nice pocket community of Saint Louis, Missouri, I was brought up to always honor those that served both living and dead. I stand beside that theme today and give everyone that has served and currently is serving a great big THANKS!!. I also pause also to give wonder about these United States of America during these interesting times. Companies, schools and other organizations seem to not understand want giving employees time to reflect on special holidays such as Veteran’s Day or Thanksgiving. More and more companies are requiring employees to work on the long established holidays both federal and so-called family holidays. Businesses try to pass off the reason for opening as that’s what the public wants. While that may be true since, the word family is hard to find nowadays.

Ok, I will move off my high-horse for now and on into our recent wanderings.

This year’s On The Road trips has come to an end. This year’s trips were some of the most entertaining and educational trips I have ever taken. Since our mid-August trip to the Kansas City Northern Railway in the northern part of Kansas City was a pleasant surprise. The volunteers do an amazing job of taking care of three park trains, and a wonderful tunnel, a very nice bridge. During our visit, we had plenty of conversations with visitors. The trip over to KC included a rainy, interstate drive. But the day was not all lost, the sun did come out and made for a great visit, but, alas, the rain returned as we headed back east.

The next weekend our Wanderings allowed us to take some of our friends with us. We were headed to Valparaiso, Indiana. but before arriving I thought that we should stop by and check-in on the Park Forest RailPark and Flossmoor Brewery. I will say that both are in great shape. We got to use our Illinois I-pass again on the toll roads.  Still think, we one of few people in Missouri that has a Illinois Toll Pass. Valparaiso is university town. It is also the home of Taltree Arboretum, which a great place. The arboretum uses as their welcome center a freshly built depot which also serves as the entrance to the one of the largest public railroad gardens in the midwest. We were given a quick tour of the arboretum , then brought back to the railroad garden for the Let’s Talk Trains program. I started setting up the broadcast equipment and got a broadband signal then tried log into the show’s switchboard, but, could not get through. not sure why, but the had another host run the board from his house. It was a very interesting show as most of them are. I don’t like to pat myself on the back, but, I plan on them being interesting.

September was a quiet travel month for Mrs. Shuttletrain and I. The only trip was 50 miles in-town to the Museum of Transportation for it’s Go By Train event. We did our broadcast from the back deck of the Barrett Depot. We interviewed MOT staff and the new NRHS President that is a volunteer at the museum and turns out a longtime friend.  Just wish I would have known that he was just elected NRHS President. But I am glad the interview was just focused on MOT. I am still amazed at the MOT and it’s collection. I am glad that it belongs to St. Louis County as one of their parks.

The first weekend in October, we went to Corinth, Mississippi to visit the the Anniversary of the Battle of Corinth. The Battle was fought over the importance of the railroad in Corinth and it’s Crossroads. The town was also having a BBQ contest. Great Food. The Museum at the Depot is more of a community history than a railroad history museum. I was a little surprised by that, but of course, a little biased. The National Park Service Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, is a great place to visit. It does mention the role of the railroad in several of it’s displays.

On the way back north, we stopped off at Memphis for the 100th Anniversary of Memphis Central Station. While the biggest Celebration was the day before. We still got to see the Amtrak Exhibit Train for the Seventh time. I am always grateful to see Amtrak salute those that have worked and continue to help America’s Railroad. We got home like we normally do on a Sunday night, but, for some reason it just felt a little different. I still don’t know why I got that special feeling and may never know.

The last Wandering of October, started a little earlier that normal. Because we were going to meet half of the Pacific Northwest host of LTT, at the airport in Kansas City. We drove to Kansas City on Thursday morning arriving about 230 just in time to check into hotel and then go to KCI to meet Bob Alkire, the Lynnwood, Washington host. We brought him back to the hotel, checked him in, then let him clean up up before dinner at the Power and Light District, which the night before had thousands of screaming KC Royals fans. We ate dinner at the Gordon Biersch brewery, which Mrs. Shuttletrain and I have been to before, but, to our amazement is a national chain. The food was great as usual, but the extra company was a great boost. Thanks Bob. Afterwards, we walked around a little, taking pictures of the District and the Kauffman Center at night. We finally got or other host KC Nathan off work, and he agreed to show us a KC railfan spot. We drove to the KC Bottoms and watched over ten trains go by in about ninety minutes. We then turned our attention to Kansas City Union Station where the Southwest Chief was bringing in the Amtrak Exhibit Train and the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car for the Big Centennial Celebration of Union Station. The next morning headed over to Union Station to set up for the New Expanded Union Station History exhibit dedication ceremony. I had started sending emails to the staff at USKC over a year before that weekend, as I wanted the LTT show to featured media partner. It took over 30 emails of back and forth. They had just signed a new contract with local Time Warner Cable system for their internet, wifi. We I tried it for the show. It was a strong signal, BUT, the system could not handle the bandwidth that we needed. So halfway though the ceremony I got our contact at Verizon Wireless to turn on the extra switch that I had them install for Saturday’s events a day early. Thanks Verizon.

After the ceremony, we took a tour of the new exhibit and it’s APP. Then headed over to the Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant in Crown Center for lunch. After lunch, three of us walked over to the offices of KC Streetcar for a very special tour of the line as it is being built by the Project Manager. Andy was very detailed in his descriptions of what was happening along the line. We even got to get out in several places and see up close what was happening. Thanks Andy,

Next, it was up the hill to the National WWI Memorial and a another quick walk through. since we have been there about 60 times with friends we led on their first train trip to KC. This time we just looked for railroad related items or displays. We found a few. Our visit challenged the archivist , to think about WWI and Railroads. During our visit, we tapped a interview with the archivist. We learned a whole bunch of new knowledge there. We headed back to the hotel for a break and to wait for KC Nathan to get off work again. Dinner this night was in the FreightHouse District across from Union Station at Jack Stack’s Restaurant. We left about 1030 after being filled to the brim.

Saturday came early, the day that I had been planning for for a year. We arrived at 830 in the morning, to set up for the Re-Dedication Ceremony. When we arrived, the stage had been moved inside since the weather was supposed to be cold and windy. The A/V staff looked like they were running behind, but since our show was going to go on with or without us ready, I hurried to get set up and get a signal from their audio board. the Union Station Special Events Director was barking orders to the A/V, adding videos to their presentation. So lots of things were in disarray. The Ceremony started and went off with a hitch. The KC Mayor was there, as was, the Jackson County Chief Executive. I was supposed to interview them on the LIVE show after the ceremony but, the PR people forgot to reach out to them like they were suppose to way back when I first reached out to them. So I just took the mayor’s speech and ran it during the regular LIVE show.  The regular LiVE show featured four of the sixth hosts. Mrs. Shuttletrain, Bob, KC Nathan and me. We each took turns interviewing guests and I think it worked out ok, I do wish that we would have a PR person nearby that would have made sure or guests were nearby when it was time for their interviews, instead I spent a lot of time fetching them. But again it worked out. After packing up, we wandered through the special exhibits and train displays. Then it was dinnertime, at Pierponts, the Old Lobster Pot Restaurant. It is one of fanciest restaurants in KC. Dinner lasted two hours again. Mrs Shuttletrain and I headed back to the hotel, while Bob and KC headed out to railfan again. We used the time by ourselves to unwind and enjoy nightlife that is the KC Skyline.

Sunday morning, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I headed over to Crown Center to the Hallmark Gold Crown Headquarters store to get our 2014 Christmas ornament and Christmas Cards. Then met up with Bob, and drove him back to KCI, and headed back east towards WashMo. It was a fun trip and I enjoyed meeting Bob for the first time, although I wish that his wife could have come too, but, she headed to Canada for a Skating Weekend. Maybe next time.

The next time we wander with you, it should be from our new 2015 GMC Canyon. They are building it the week of 17th November. So we will visit soon.

A tough four days–A Special Wandering

I felt I needed to write this special wandering. It has nothing to do with railroading though. A few more disclaimers. The first is that I grew up in a suburban St. Louis, Missouri town called Webster Groves. it is and was a railroad town served by both the Missouri Pacific and the Frisco. The next disclaimer is that I have a police officer cousin and my father, TV Picraux Jr.served as a Orleans, LA sheriff deputy who was shot in the line of duty, while he survived, he never regained full use of his left arm after being shot in the elbow saving people during an escape attempt in the New Orleans Charity Hospital.  Also, I am very good about interacting with police about accidents that I see on the roads, Traffic lights out,  possible drunk drivers, even people I feel are acting out of place, now granted my out of place is probably different, than yours because of my experiences, having been a police explorer growing up while with the explorer group was part of the International Police Chief Assn. Convention in St. Louis; worked as a dispatcher for security company and having done ride along with father, cousin and for the Radio/TV work it did. The final disclaimer, I worked in the St. Louis media in both radio and television with some great professional;in both radio and TV.  With those disclaimers mentioned. The last four days has seen murder, riots, pre-military action, and finally a death by apparent suicide of a famous person whom I met twice, and got to interview one of those times.So let roll back the clock to Saturday afternoon. After listening to the Let’s Talk Trains radio show. which I normally host two or three times a month. I started seeing Facebook and Twitter posts about a shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. I turned on my scanner and started listen in to police and fire traffic. As my friends started posting the scene, I started wondering why it happened? Why the individual still lying on the ground and not being taken away in an ambulance to either a hospital or the morgue? I thought these were valid questions, since I had been to a few shooting scenes for radio and TV. And even one with my dad in NOLA. I watched as the day unfolded. The shooting scene was in a North St. Louis County town of Ferguson, MO. Ferguson used to be a white, commuter town a few dozen miles from the St. Louis Downtown. It has a great old commuter station, although not used as train station these days.

Now the town is made up of hard working African Americans that fled the intercity fighting and destruction. I would often go to the Ferguson station to watch trains pass and i always felt safe.This particular Saturday, showed a different side of Ferguson that would never believe this city would ever show. Going to broadcasting classes, I had some of the Mid-west finest teachers and mentors in the business. One, of the first things I learned was don’t make the news, report just the facts. Don’t let one side of the story dictate the flow. Make sure you see the story from all angles. Back in the 1980’s, we were taught not to let the police lead us to an angle. In other words, don’t show the perp walk. Police departments spent great deals of money on sally ports, where the alleged suspect was brought into police station and the door closed behind. Now, police will just pull the suspect out of the car and parade him/her passed the cameras into building hoping to make it appear that person is indeed guilty before even going to a court of law. Please remember in these United States of America, we are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before our peers.

Another thing is before you report it, make sure you have all sides to the story and report all sides equally. Many newsrooms today do not do that both local and national. Reporters and anchors still have responsibility to read and write the story in straightforward manner, not sensationalizing the story, by dramatizing the words, slowly empathizing word  or words. Choosing locations that have no realistic part in the telling of the story. Don’t have double standards for people and don’t allow it from your people. OK, with that said, How come, even though we are all human, we do not get treated the same way? If this incident, was turned around, hundreds of police would have swooped the person, blocked every street on the way to the hospital. Instead, the body laid in the street for over four hours. Area is usually canvassed immediately and witnesses are interview on site. The suspect is taken into custody, processed and then held for at least 24 hours, then charged or released.The suspect name and photo are released as soon they a processed into the computer system. But, since this was an police officer, Police officers are just placed on paid leave. Names are not released due a possible threat against officer or family. Flip it around, if someone shoots or injures a police officer, the suspect name and photo are almost always released, The first question I have, is if the police officer really stands for justice, should they be held to a higher standard, and be willing to trust the justice system, to prove him gulity?

Second observation, when the local city police called the County police chief, (in St. Louis County, the county sheriff only handles civil cases, and the count police force deals with all criminal issues) to ask him to take the investigation over. There is a perceived conflict of interest to begin with:1) Another law enforcement operation, 2) Chief to Chief understanding. 3) County Police responded to scene with Machine guns drawn(AR-15) which are military style weapons.. 3) County police used police dogs in a non-ethical way, not for a search and rescue or bomb search. In other used the dogs in a tactical method against American people, similar to how the Nazi’s dealt with their prisoners of war.

Third, the witnesses versions are very different from what the police are stating happened.  The statement made by the police chief’s about how long the investigation would take are grossly over stated. Watching the NOPD, process scenes, and take evidence. leads me to believe that there will be some tampering of evidence or leaving out key pieces of evidence. It has already been reported that bullet still has not been recovered from a wall inside a house at the crime scene.

Fourth point, this was residential street, if the suspect and his friend were walking down the street, while that may not be smart, We occasionally walked in street growing up i n Webster Groves. We would always step aside if a car came. heck we even, played baseball, kickball in the street.

Fifth point, why use deadly force? Now days, while I don’t like them, Tazers are used all over the place.  I agree that people should respect law enforcement officers, but, increasingly a growing number of officers are getting an authority complex that their are always right. They are human just like the rest of us. The increasing number of officers that shave their heads (you can’t tell me that they all have cancer or have had it.), wear military style and color uniforms instead of the old light blue shirt and dark pants for city officers, light brown shirts and brown pants for sheriffs, dark blue shirt and dark pants for state police and display military style tattoos,  don’t do it on purpose to intimate people, just like wearing sunglasses all the time so you can’t eye contact with them.

Sixth point, during the first press conference, the county police chief did all the speaking even though the city chief was there. Then as the two left the room, the county chief patted the city chief on the back, like they were good old friends, and probably are, since they travel in the same chief circles. Appearances set the stage for how people acted.

Seventh point, all LEO involved shootings should be handled by the State Attorney General’s own investigation team. All police involved shootings should go to a statewide grand jury system automatically this way, everything is truly above board and your getting a There already is concern that the county prosecutor, is biased because he is white and his father was supposedly killed by an African American and in recent memories, all police officer involved shootings in the state of Missouri have resulted no charges being filed against the officer. And to make trust issues even worst release the names and mugshots of the arrested alleged looters, but still has not released the photo or the name of the police officer. The story is now that the police office has to go to the hospital with a bruise to the side of a face. The police have asked the FAA to ban media helicopters from Ferguson airspace, for fear that the will be shot at since last allegedly the police helicopter was shot at. A great deal bystanders on the ground feel that story was to not be transparent, so the illegal  police tactics could be used against citizens without the media present. The wonder why on Charter Cable all the local news stations coverage were scrambled for that area, and last night media on the ground was asked to take down all live trucks and move, just as a major offensive was about to take place.

The State Public Safety Director should have direct oversight of all peace officers in the state, not just training standards. There should be a specific time period reviews for each officer by individuals not related to the department and jurisdiction they serve. Also, all police procedures should come from the legislature or a statewide citizen’s review board made of random (jury type summoned) individuals.

Now with that said, I believe that 98% of of all LEO are an asset to the communities they serve. Watching my father’s department I saw the very good, the marginal, and the worst of the bunch. You know the saying trash in, trash out. But at what point do we as citizens start to lose our right to free speech, freedom to choose or not choose a religion, freedom to choose a partner for life.freedom to move around the country as we please, We the people are created equal under the law.That means every single human in this wide diverse country of ours. Rules and laws are to guide us to allow us to live together, work together, for the common good of all creatures on this earth. Let us get back to the Ten Commandments as your guide.

Next problem, will probably be a stock to people. the right to bear arms. Yes and no! Assault weapons should be available for combat purposes only. They should be available for everyday use or access. I see too many police offices carrying machine guns like a soldier does. That is just  plain nuts. Solution to keeping people from shooting people besides better moral training? Quicker punishments. we to move criminals through system faster. Make all new lawyers do period of five year rotating as prosecutors then as public defenders before private practice, since most lawyers have don’t seem to understand mortality in helping fellow humans, instead of making massive amounts of money. The same goes for doctors. Additionally, some  forms of private practices  should not be allowed, patent lawyers, zoning lawyers, tummy tuck doctors etc.

Problem Two…

The recent violence, fires, looting is not related to the shooting death. It is a mentality of some citizen to use this tragedy as an excuse for releasing their frustrations. I think it is because they walked away from their faith and families. Events of Saturday, Sunday and Monday and even somewhat Today are cause of concern to me. As a eighth grader at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, I would have to take the city buses to the children hospital for appointments or actual stays, I had plenty of encounters with African American children with their mothers or grandmothers getting on the bus. If the child would start to get overactive, the mom or grandmother, or even another African American would be very quick to intervene and correct the behavior, even more so than a white parent. I have also been impressed on that behavior. Knowing how the African American culture is really faith based more than most white folks. I have never been a racist. How can I say that, going up my grandparents and aunt/uncle had a cleaning lady that was African American. Every time I would visit their houses those wonderful individuals would teach me something about being a human being. As a result, I have surrounded myself with a great many African Americans that I am proud to call friends.

Violence is sometimes unavoidable. but, in this case, it is avoidable. Growing up in Webster Groves, there was that other side of the tracks. Unfortunately, a few of individuals from the other side did impact my life in a bad way. My two stolen bicycles were found in possession of individuals from north Webster Groves.  I did not know the individuals, but, I let justice prevail. I never looked down on anyone from that area, because I was taught that we were all Webster Groves kids. I went to school with them, played Scout softball with them, I am not sure where we got off track, caring for each other, combining our shared knowledge to build a stronger USA and a stronger world. I do know that a great deal of corporation executives have taken the community before profits theme out of the picture. I think that a great deal of college business folks are just as bad as the looters. It is OK to pay the workers as low wages as you can, so that the executives/board of directors/stockholders can make a much money as they can. The solution is simple. Customers and employees first and then reinvest profits back into the business and  the business will grow. Happy employees will make even happier customers. What happened to being there for your neighbor; you fellow human being? Is lack of motivation a problem? Some say we must understand the social-economic circumstance to these individuals.When I drove a school bus, I was told that by a mother.  I thought about what she said for a few moments, then said to her; I have five safety rules for everyone. I deliver students from all walks of life, many, many different countries, since I was a school bus driver in the three college town of Columbia, MO. I treated everyone the same. I believed and still do today that respect is yours to lose. You always start at 100% and lose points based on your behavior and actions. if you don’t like what a business is doing, first let someone know about it peacefully. Second, legal or moral action. As I have always said, I work at a business because I want to, because I believe in what the company is doing. If that feeling changes, I mention it to supervisor, if it does change I leave. I have morals. Do I berate the company no? Well, only if the it is illegal, unethical, immoral, or dangerous to workers or customers. There a lot of great companies, small and large that do a great job of honoring their commitment to the human race. That is one reason I am still unemployed. I am picky, in applying for position where I part of a solution that helps mankind or animals. I believe in paying it forward, and I have several times.Look at my hobby now. I enjoy trains. I want to share that feeling with others. I host the Let’s Talk Trains show because I want people to learn and experience the feeling that I get from railroading. Everything I do, I will give my best at doing. Sometimes I fail fully but at least I tried my best. I have limitations due my height, my physical condition. my location. I enjoy meeting people and listening to other people. Learning about their background, experiences, The rioters became about them as individuals and not about us as a community.

The next issue is has been heartache. The loss of Robin Williams to suicide . He was truly a person that make you laugh about life and yourself. I had the privilege of meeting him and interacting with him twice. The first time was went I was a patient at St, Louis Children’s Hospital. He came to visit the hospital with Bob Hope. I am not sure they were touring together or not, but, that does not matter. I remember that he spent as long as you wanted to in your room. He wanted to remove the pain of being in the hospital through friendship and laughter. If I remember his visit was near my 17th birthday which I was going to have to spend in the hospital. He found out from a nurse that I had already spent three birthdays there, he was determined that I was OK with it. He joked that if he hear I was sad or depressed about it later, he would come back and foggle me. Never did know what that word meant. The next time I met him I had to interview him at the VP Fair where he was spotted just enjoying the fair, I told him of our encounter years earlier, He remembers going to the hospital, but, he was sorry that he did not remember me personally. But, that started a wild conversion about hospitals and kids that I think he used later in the movie Patch Adams. I will always keep those memories close to my heart. I will also remember that the roles he played in the movies, he did with vest and total commitment to the role. Will miss seeing you on the big screen Mr. Williams.

With that said, prayers to both Mr. William’s and Mike Brown’s families and close friends on these tragic losses of life.


That’s all I have to say this time.



The Summer Tourist season is now over.

August has found it’s way to Washington, Missouri. The town’s Town and Country Fair has come and gone. So let me catch you all up on Mrs. Shuttletrain’s and wanderings over the three months. Over the Memorial Day Weekend, we set off to Northwestern Tennessee, to visit the South Fulton, TN Railroad Museum. The Museum is in the back of the town’s city hall. The Museum is staffed by real-life railroaders. We enjoyed seeing their collection, and taking with three staff members about their memories. Next, we headed to the town of Union City, Tennessee. We visited with the mayor of Union City at his television station. Not sure that a television station should be a mayor though to remain objective. Afterwards, stopped off at the town’s railroad station which houses the County Chamber and Economic Development office. Spoke to the ECO Director about railroads and railfanning in the town. Checked into the Hampton Inn. This Hampton must be a re-brand because it had all outside room doors and a very small breakfast area. I would hope that the owners would close down and move to a new building near the Discovery Park of America. That was real destination of  our wandering that weekend.

The Discovery Park of America, is true wonder. Built in the northwest part of Tennessee near it’s border with Kentucky. It seems to be in the middle of nowhere. The park is way larger than it appears from the roadway due to berms hiding the place from the main roadway. The location sits next to a future Interstate.The science center, living history, gardens facility is just so wonderful.The exhibits inside Discovery Center range from dinosaurs to space exploration. The tower rises about the building allowing visitors a great view of the place and it’s surroundings.

The Pioneer village shows the careful planning that went into the thought process. The Railroad Depot Area has a steam engine, three passenger cars a caboose on loan from the city. The depot itself is a replica of a nearby station from the past. It has lots memories inside. Very nice detailing. Did I mention it also has a G Scale train running around it inside?

We left DPA and headed back towards home, but ended up in Cape Girardeau, Mo  for the evening. The next morning we traveled to Bollinger Mill MO State Historical Site. We walked the mill and over the covered bridge. It was a very neat place. MO State Parks takes very good care of the place. Mrs. Shuttletrain suggested that we visit Elephant Rocks State Park. We tried too at least. The place was packed, No parking anywhere. So we headed to Arcadia, to visit the soon to be Amtrak station. e found out that nothing has been started, no platform or loading area or even a waiting room. And if you ask the Historical Society volunteer inside, they don’t want the waiting room at all. Just wonder how many people will use the new station considering the train will stop there in the middle of the night. No big cities in the vicinity. We left after walking through the museum and headed back to WashMO.

The next weekend, for the Let’s Talk Trains program I aired the interviews that I had recorded in Union City. Then went outside and tried to clean our roof gutters. Mrs. Shuttletrain had a wildlife pet control company over while I was hosting the Let’s Talk Trains show, for a squirrel problem. Why do I mention that? Well, as I was cleaning the gutters I needed a screwdriver, which I had Mrs. Shuttletrain retrieve from the garage. As she was entering the garage, she saw a squirrel and screamed for me to come get rid of the squirrel, forgetting that I was still up six feet on a ladder. She screamed again in panic, so I started to climb down off the ladder, the center of gravity changed and the ladder and I went sideways. I fell between our two cars. and cracked three lower vertebra. I checked myself over found no bones sticking out and found my way to the bedroom. Took some pain pills and then fell asleep. Two days later after the swelling went down called the doctor and he sent me to get x-ray. In the meantime, Mrs. Shuttletrain’s Aunt had died in northwest Illinois. So we traveled there on a Wednesday night, then went to the funeral on Thursday and came back home on Thursday night. The next morning, Friday we then traveled the other way to Springdale, AR for the NRHS National Convention Banquet, since LTT was a sponsor of the convention. The 5 hour drive down was tough. As soon as we arrived in the hotel room, found the bathtub and proceeded to soak in hot water Then went to the banquet, and had a great meal and listened to the CEO of the Arkansas Missouri Railroad. Great speaker and even better railroader.

The next day, did the LTT show from the Springdale train station with one of the show’s special guest host, Skip Waters. Skip is a board member of the NRHS. It was a delight to finally meet him. That night went to one of the seminars about Arkansas Railroading through the eyes/camera of John Barriger. On Sunday, left and headed back home to Washington.

Got home and went to a spine doctor, who confirmed that I had three cracked vertebra. He told me to wear a ortho back brace for the next three-four months. So that is what I am doing. I does make it feel better. Our next wandering brought us to Bowling Green, KY. The Historic RailPark and Museum is our host this time. I was amazed at how beautiful the building has been restored. The station has a museum is the bottom third of the station and part of the top floor as well. They have a double decker model railroad layout on the ground floor. Very cool. We set up from the LTT show, under the old passenger platform, and under cloudy skies. As the show progressed, the sun came through and warmed thinks including my neck up very well. After the show we walked through the rolling stock, packed up and headed back to the hotel.

The next day, we visited Mammoth Cave National Park, and viewed the steam engine and combine car that was used to bring visitors and supplies to the area in the golden years of railroading. After seeing the visitors center, (because of my back could not go down under), we headed to IN, to see the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home National Historical Site, taken over from the State of Indiana, construction looked just like the George Clark NHS, also a former State of Indiana park.

We stopped off in Illinois to visit a friend from the garden railway club, then headed home.

I decided to stay home and rest my back for a couple of weeks, except, for my annual visit to the APRHF Silver Rails Country Lookout Point. I am always amazed at how many trains go by that place and how fast they go. After co-host the LTT show, we headed over to the Depot Inn and met up with APRHF board member Tom Anderson, to discuss so show stuff and APRHF stuff, along with the new Silver Rails Wine Trail. It is going to be really fun. Can’t wait.

We leave La Plata, and back south towards Columbia, and meet up with our best friends, who live south of Columbia for dinner and ice cream. I is always a great time when we get to hang with them. After visiting with them for over an hour, we make our way back to Washington. Traindog Ajax got to come along and eat some pizza and enjoy lots of trains too.

The next week, was my birthday week and as usual, I had a couple of invites for dinner, which Mrs. Shuttletrain & I gladly enjoyed. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful friends in person and on Facebook and Twitter. I had over 900 well wishes. Glad the came via electronic way, or my mail person would need shoulder surgery.

The first Saturday, I went to the Central Missouri Railroad Assn. Train Show and Swap Meet. I hosted the LTT show from there. I got to speak to people from the club also spoke to a member of the Wabash Railroad Historical Society.  Very interesting day without having to travel too far. The next wandering back to my second home of Kansas City and the Kansas City Northern Railroad, for a LIVE broadcast, then the weekend of the 23rd, head to Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, IN and their Railroad Garden Can’t wait.


We that’s it for this time. See ya soon.

What a great week!

Last Tuesday, I left Washington, Missouri at 6 a.m. and traveled north along the Avenue of the Saints to St. Paul, Minnesota. Ms. Shuttletrain had to handle important stuff at work, so she could not get away. So I picked up a friend of mine from the garden railway club I belong to, as my travel navigator in Foristell, Missouri.We headed north along the Avenue aka US 61. We stopped by Trainland USA, which is just north of Colfax, IA along Interstate 80. there we met Red and Judy Atwood the owners of Trainland USA. The husband and wife duo take care of this attraction which has everything Lionel, in three different themes. The frontier era, a steam era and the diesel era. There lots of different scenes in the display, even a fireworks scene. The lights go out several times during your visit so nightime can be observed. The layout was built several decades ago, and it does show it’s age sometimes, with trains not co-operating like they should. Red has his golden touch, to bring them back to life. There is also several rows of engines and cars on static display in the museum. The the collection of railroad art is pretty cool too. The property also has a renovated depot with lots of railroad items on display. A caboose is also available for parties and the historic commuter coach is Red’s shop and store. I will say that it is worth a visit. The website is http://www.trainlandusa.com.

After taking three takes to tape a segment for the Let’s Talk Train program it was off to St. Paul again. We cut a corner off, and found a detour that led us to Interstate 35. As we approached the MSP area, we found ourselves in a road construction zone where the warning signs started 10 miles before the actual work zone started. Dire warnings too, Expect stopped traffic, one lane road. We never really experienced a slowdown, but we hit it at 8 p.m., just started thinking about what it would be like when we left town on Thursday morning. One thing that did surprise us was a section of regular interstate that had a speed limit of 45 MPH. Found out later that the speed limit was set in a lawsuit.. We arrived at our Holiday Inn-St. Paul East about 9:30 p.m. The hotel is right off Interstate 94, and was very large for a suburban hotel. We checked in and then found the restaurant, which is in the bar area. They use the bar area instead of the actual restaurant to save money I guess. The next morning after breakfast in the real restaurant, we headed for St. Paul Union Depot. I had been to the Union Depot before in the middle of the night in 2000. I had taken Amtrak from St. Louis to Chicago, but because the train was delayed on the Mississippi River bridge outside of St. Louis, we missed our connection in Springfield, IL. So the Amtrak staff put us on a van from Chicago at 1000 at night and as we towards St. Paul dropping off other passengers at the stations in between. They had not given the van driver directions to the stations, so along the way we the passengers started looking up the stations on a map. I found a Union Depot pinpoint on the map and headed the driver to it. When we arrived it was abandoned and in a rundown area,. We tired to find a gas station or a 7-11 to ask where the AMTRAK station was., We got back on the highway and went east to a gas station about five miles away for what is now called Lowertown. They told us it was in Midway, MN, what they did not tell us was that it was in an industrial area. Fast forward to 2014. We drove around Union Depot and took in it’s beautiful outsides. We found a place to park under the old freight building. and unpacked the computers and gadget bag, and headed inside. We got on the escalator and found the empty, soon to be filled later that morning, Amtrak counter and the Intercity bus counter, I found that those counters are out of the way from the gates which are located in the concourse, up two more levels. The St. Paul Union Depot was designed as a pull-through station. The Head House houses a restaurant and offices for the Depot and the Rail Authority. The concourse was closed off since the last passenger train left in 1981. Amtrak never used it. They used Midway. The station has been reopen for a year. St. Paul’s city transit buses and the intercity bus lines have been there since then. Amtrak has been waiting for the three railroads that it operates on in the area to get together and allow Amtrak to come to Union Depot.

After getting a tour of the Depot, my friend, whom doubled as a production assistant, set up the video camera to tape the press conference and the computer for the live streaming of the conference. The waiting room aka concourse, was being set up for a private event the next night so only a 1/8 of the hall was available for the press conference. Over 150 citizens, the press and officials including President and CEO Joe Boardman, who came town on his personal trainset. The Assistant Director of the Federal Railroad Admistration, Karen Hedlund. along with the Ramsey County Railroad Authority Director, the MN State Railroad Director. After the ribbon cutting the public was allowed on the platform to check Mr. Boardman’s train. Once the press was done shooting B-Roll it was time to go back upstairs and start to set up for the taping of the LTT segments.

The first guest was the author of the book about St. Paul’s Union Depot, John Diers. Mr. Diers was very knowledgeable about Union Depot. Although he could not find many people that worked in the depot while writing his book, since they had left the area or simply passed away, using the archives of libraries and historical societies, his book is a must read. The next guest was the Ramsey County Rail Authority Commissioner, Mr. Ortega. Union Depot is owned by the Ramsey County Rail Authority, not the City of St. Paul. Mr. Ortega was truly a very interesting guest. He described what it was like to start from scratch and make Union Depot a work of art. Mr. Ortega was followed by the Director of the Ramsey County Rail Authority, Timothy Mayasich. Timothy was very gracious in allowing us to come and visit during this historic day. He rally knows how to manage a comeback. I usually interview the convention and visitors director next, but, I was told that a chamber of commerce member would be a better fit. It turns out that the chamber person also owns the minor league baseball team which is moving from Midway to Lowertown too. Even better he turned out to be my high school friend. Tom Whaley. Tom is a transplant from St. Louis that stayed in St. Paul. You can tell he is proud of his adopted city. Tom was able to answer the tough questions and I even got him thinking about being a rail tourist in his own city. The final guest was David Christianson, MN DOT official. David is a railfan turned government official. It was an interesting interview. Unfortunately, his segment was left on the cutting room floor due to time. After the tapping at St. Paul Union Depot it was time to head to the James J. Hill House for a tapping.

After a tour of the Hill House with the Convention and Tourism Bureau folks with the Site Director for the Hill House, Craig Johnson. We sat down with Craig and discussed the house and it’s importance in St. Paul. We even interviewed one of the members of the Great Northern Railroad Historical Society, Gary Nelson. Once we completed the interviews it was back to the Union Depot to meet up with my friend Tom Whaley for dinner and a tour of the new baseball park site. The dinner conversation switched back and forth from from the high school days to the future of St. Paul Lowertown. It was nice to visit with an old friend and see his passion for the future.

While we waited for Amtrak to make it’s first appearance at Union Depot, we caught up on emails. The first train was supposed to be an westbound train from Chicago with an arrival at 1003 pm. The arrival kept getting pushed back as freight traffic interfered. The station set aside four bleachers along an not yet used track for the locals to watch it arrival. The media, that would be us, were allowed on the actual arrival platform. The moved President Boardman’s train to another track to allow for the Westbound Empire Builder to have full access, and once the EB arrived they were going to hook on to it and drag Boardman’s train to Minot. ND

The Empire Builder arrived about 11:20 pm and the media took pictures and interviewed travelers getting on and off the train. The train left the platform and moved into the darkness about 12:15 am. We headed back to the hotel. The eastbound train was scheduled to arrive at 8:00A.m. the next morning and it arrived after noon. but I was not planning on meeting it as we had to be back on the road south to Boone, IA to tape another segment.

My friend and I left the hotel about 6:00 a.m. and headed south. We stopped off in Boone, IA to tape a segment at the James H. Andrews Railroad Museum and History Center aka Iowa Railroad Museum located next to the Boone Scenic Railroad. This museum building is just over two years old, and houses some very unique items. The first is a depot within a depot. The second is a conductor button collection. and third a architectural drawing of the bridge that the Boone Scenic goes over. They are starting a library for the railroad readings. and other items. http://iowarailwaymuseum.org

Back on the road southeast towards Washington, we cut across Iowa and found the headquarters of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation in La Plata. We stopped off at the lookout point to watch a couple of trains. When we got to Columbia, MO it started to rain and rain and rain. I dropped my production assistant/friend off at his house in Foristell, and headed home. I got home, handed the dirty laundry bag to my wife to switch for new clothes as we were due at St. Louis Union Station that night. It was just after 8 p.m.,. I had hoped to arrive home at 6 p.m. but with the rain, I erred on the side of caution.

We arrived at St. Louis Union Station, about 915 p.m. just as the 3D light show was ending,. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I were part of the Friends of Union Station that built the permanent G Scale layout in the Grand Hall Marketplace. So we had seen the staff doing lots of tests shows for the last several weeks. We checked into the headhouse suite that had been reserved for us. and then went back to the Grand Hall for dinner and drinks. The next morning, met up with the hotel’s general manager, to discuss details about that evening VIP event. I am proud to say that the owner of the hotel used our show to detail the plans for the hotel transformation way back in January 2013. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I help set up the Gateway Garden Railroad Club’s layout that was going to be the biggest part of the VIP event, along with five other model train displays, Those displays would then be part of National Train Day, which followed the next day. The VIP’s met in the Grand Hall where they had drinks, watched a special 3D show, then headed down to see the displays and then off for a train tour of St. Louis Terminal Railroad yards and bridges. After the tour, they came back into the station,. some left but a handful came back into the Grand Hall, were the Friends of Union Station were introduced and were allowed to party with them. We stayed till 130 a.m. and had a blast.

The next morning came early, breakfast a 7 a.m. We started to run our model trains at 8 a.m. because there were so many hotel guests wandering around. The National Train Day opened to the public at 10 a.m. and ran till 6 p.m. We started taking down the modular display at 6 p.m. and it took till 8 p. m. Five of us went up to the Station Grille to have dinner. After that it was bedtime, On Sunday morning, packed up our hotel room, and headed back to Washington, Missouri where we unpacked from both trips, picked up Ajax from boarding, and then played with him for a little bit before heading off to bed. Whew what a week. Leaving town again in two weeks for two days. I love to travel and see America, but I love to come home too.

Thanks for wandering. More later.

Winter’s Coming To An End Soon, Maybe?

Well, March is coming to an end. It has been a very interesting winter around the eastern part of Missouri. When I last left you last November, it was getting cooler. I remember asking that this winter be snowy and cold. I asked for two reasons, one, to kill all the bugs and germs, and the other, help the farmers get ground water for their crops, and livestock. Well, God granted my wish alright! Boy it was snowy and arctic cold quite often this winter. My job at Enterprise got quite busy, lots of new locations into the booking systems.

I stayed in the Metro St. Louis area for most of the month of December. The biggest thing happening in December was that I got to help in the Gateway Garden Railroad Club (GGRRC) set-up of the club’s modular layout at my new friend’s Brad Joseph’s Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Belleville, Illinois. Brad has the GGRRC set-up the layout during the month of December, for his customers. Brad has a full-size working private railroad car in his dealership that he holds daily meetings and functions in. The Railroad Car is located in a glass covered part of the dealership. It’s almost as if it was waiting for an engine to back up and hook on to it and pull it away on an adventure. But, alas, there are no tracks. The dealership hosts an open house each December for the public to come and enjoy all the trains. I will say that attendance is great, even in the bad weather that December brought. The club then takes the layout down the first weekend in January.

Also in December, I hosted the Let’s Talk Trains Host Summit again. I really like doing it. It gives all the hosts a chance to talk about what is going and what they are planning for the next year. This year, the senior host, Chris and the husband/wife duo, Bob and Elizabeth joined me. We continued to push ourselves to provide quality episodes with a wide ranging group of topics. It took me about two weeks, to come up with my plans for the 2014 season. I am amazed that I get to be part of this very interesting show. I sometimes wish that I could get paid for hosting, and traveling. If I did, I could cover more topics, but, that is another story.

January arrived, with the coldest temps in a long while. The GGRRC had it’s modular layout take down, and January meeting. During that meeting, The former president and I introduced to the membership that the new owners of St. Louis Union Station, whom I had interviewed a year ago, were interested in having the GGRRC build a permanent G Scale layout in their new coffee shop space. They also wanted us to be the centerpiece of the grand re-re-opening of the building on National Train Day in May. A group of us members formed the Friends of Union Station to build the coffee shop layout. We started the build just last week and hope to have it installed by May 1st. Let’s talk Trains kept me very busy during the month of January. I got to visit the Operations Center for the St. Louis Metrolink and speak to the COO and a MetroLink operator. The next week, it was off to Branson, Missouri with Mrs. Shuttletrain. We took off from homebase on a Friday night. We arrived into Branson just after nine o’clock. There was no traffic, because, it was off season and most shows and hotels were closed. We found our hotel, checked in and the found a place to eat, then did some shopping at the Outlet Mall. The next morning, we headed to the Rail Passenger Car Alliance Convention to do the Let’s Talk Train Show. Afterwards, we went to the IMAX theater to watch the Rocky Mountain Express. The movie details how the Canadian Trans-Continental Railroad was built. Very interesting movie. I would recommend it. Back to the hotel for some much need rest and relaxation. On Sunday, we headed to Springfield, Missouri area to meet up with my childhood friend, whom according to him, bullied me during grade school. Of course, I had long turned the other cheek. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I met up with them at their church. We attended their church service and Sunday school. It was the first time that I have met his wife and children. Afterwards, we went with the Sunday School class to a local Chinese restaurant. Had a great time. Little did we know that a few days later the health department would close it down for serious health violations.. We found our way back to Washington, Missouri and back to the weekday job.

The second weekend in February, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I headed to Carlyle Lake in Illinois for the GGRRC Winter Meet. The GGRRC invites other g-scale clubs to come run trains and meet with vendors and just have a great time. Once again, it was icy and snowy. Oh, did I mention cold too? Mrs. Shuttletrain decided that we needed some A-B-A F units painted in Union Pacific colors. She did a great job of finding some at a good price. We have learned so much from the members, and continue too.  Then back home, across the just opened new Mississippi River bridge, named the Stan Musial Veterans bridge. The third week of February, I confirmed with several of my Let’s Talk Trains guests about dates and times. I am still waiting on BNSF to tell the St. Paul folks when they will allow AMTRAK to move into the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota. First, it was December, then February, pushed to March, now with March almost over, who knows. It’s fully BNSF’s fault, the severe weather, really impacted them too. I think St. Paul is running out of places to put the snow that they plow.

February hosting duties called for two episodes. The first one I did from the passenger seat of the car. We started the show as we were crossing the new Stan Span as it called, from Illinois. We had gone to Belleville, Illinois to meet a friend that morning. As Mrs. Shuttletrain drove across the bridge, i got to look out for the first time, since when i drove over it the last time it was snowing and slick and I felt I just better pay attention to the road conditions. This time however, I was impressed, but, I the bridge designs are starting to look the same. The guest for the show was Allen Harper. He is the CEO of American Heritage Railways. They are  the owners and operators of the Durango and Sliverton along with the Great Smoky Mountain Railway. They also license through their Rail Events Inc, all the Polar Express events around the world. Mr Harper was an excellent guest. He really has a passion for railroading and know how to put people first.

The next episode for February was about street cars and their comeback. I picked two different cities that I knew were building street cars and the cities were not too sure if they wanted them. Cincinnati and Kansas City. I learned a great deal and hoped that the listening audience did too.

That brings us to March. Boy what can I say about March.

The GGRRC was asked to participate in the Springfield, Illinois train show again at the Illinois State Fair Grounds. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went up on Saturday morning, help set up the modular display in five hours, then headed to the monthly meeting at a local restaurant. We spent the night at one of favorite hotels, the Crowne Plaza. I just love the atmosphere there. On Sunday morning, we arrived and Mrs. Shuttletrain finished setting up the layout, while I got ready to run trains. I had two trains running for two hours, one in each directions. The show ended at four, then the tear down process started. We managed to get done at 6:30, a half-hour earlier than last year. The trip home seemed to go a great deal faster this year. Oh, no snow coming down to fight with.

Let’s Talk Trains March episodes provided me with some challenges. I decided that i could do three shows during the month of March.  Playing off one of the biggest listened to shows of 2013. I decided to host a show about Garden Railway landscaping using the Garden Magazine, landscaping editor Nancy Norris and four other landscaping experts so that I had all time zones covered. The show was a round table format with all the guests on the air at the same time. It really came off well.

The second episode I hosted was about a railroaders memories, particularly, that of a Maintenance Of Way worker and supervisor. I called upon my grade school friend’s husband whom had just retired from Union Pacific Railroad. Since Mrs. Shuttletrain and I were at St. Louis Union Station, helping the Friends of Union Station build the G-Scale Coffee House layout. I hosted the show from the lobby of the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, during the First and Second Round NCAA basketball tournament. The grand hall is undergoing a massive renovation that will be done on May 8th, just in time for National Train Day Festivities. I was another knock out of the park interview.

For the next episode, I wanted to feature the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, but, alas, they turned down a request to be interviewed. I am now planning on talking the the movers and shakers of Acadia, Missouri. The town is getting a Amtrak Texas Eagle stop soon. They are building the platform, and a waiting area. Both the northbound and southbound Texas Eagle will stop early in the morning, It should be an interesting episode.

The couple of weeks will find Mrs. Shuttletrain and I in DeQunicy, Louisiana for the 2014 Louisiana Railroad Festival; Union City, Tennessee at the Discovery Park of America; Bowling Green, Kentucky visiting the Historic Railpark and Museum.

Don’t forget too, that Mrs. Shuttletrain and I are hosting the 2014 Rhineland Railroad Photography Weekend, featuring three professional photographers teaching different ways to photograph railroad things around the Missouri Rhineland and it’s four fallen flag railroads. Sign up at http://www.rhinelandrailroadphotogrphy.wordpress.com.

That will do for this edition of Shuttletrain’s Wanderings. Be sure and stop be again real soon and tell your friends about us.


Thanks and happy wanderings!!

Fall coming to an end, 2,000 mile wandering

So the turn of the calendar shows that November has arrived. I wanted to catch everyone up on the wanderings for October and November now that we have settled in for our long winter’s nap. Octoberfest is real big in our area of the Missouri Rhineland. We spent the first two weekends of October, finishing phase Five and Six of the required house repairs. The main reason for the rush is we were hosting the St. Louis area Gateway Garden Railroad monthly meeting at our house, To add to the drama, the day before the meeting, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went to LaPlata, Missouri. We were there to be part of the American Passenger Heritage Foundation’s Silver Rails Country train show. We also did a live Let’s Talk Trains show from the train show. I have been trying to get out and do live remotes as their called in the biz. One of the biggest parts of doing the live shows is talking to people about the APRHF and the Let’s Talk Train Show. I have gotten some great ideas for future shows and will try very hard to to make those visits in the next couple of years, as I make my way across country.

The next morning, as we started painting the future garden scale layout so that our visitors could get a better feel for what we were planning. The meeting was great, everyone of the members commented on the plans, they even made more comments about our historic house and our recent handiwork. The next weekend, we traveled back to Mid-Missouri to the town of Columbia and Jefferson City. We stopped off in Columbia to attend the Columbia Star Dinner Train’s Brunch Train. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I were the hosts of the day. we invited the Gateway Garden Railroad to come along and bring friends. We also were joined by a special guest, Jim Porterfield, the director of the Center for Railroad Tourism and a contributing editor for Rail and Railfan magazine. He is a wealth of knowledge about rail tourism and history between railroad dining.  I have visited the CSDT, three times now. This was the first for the brunch train. When you make your reservation, you tell them what our main course choice is, but then everything else is chef’s choice, which can lead to a little concern, but not to worry the choice for are delicious. After the two and half hour trip to just north of Hallsville, Mo. The dinner train goes on to just inside the yard limits of Centralia, Missouri.

We arrived back in the transload yard, which serves as the embarking point for the train. We had one more surprize for the the club members, We told them of a home just 45 minutes away, where the homeowner created a HO scale model train layout that was so big it took up the entire basement and they had to cut holes in the floor so that people could step under a full length bridge. They are only halfway completed with the basement detailing, but they have started building an outside G scale layout that goes over two creeks. After spending an hour and half seeing what they were doing and giving ideas back to them. It was time to leave, I had one more surprise for the Club president, I wanted to take him and his better half to the place were the eastbound and westbound Union Pacific lines come back together and head to St. Louis and points beyond, it’s called the River Sub/Sedalia Sub. And as chance happens, as we were leaving a train came by headed east of the River Sub. You can’t leave the State Capital city without stopping off at Central Dairy’s ice cream counter. Yum Yum.

It was a long week the next week, not sure why even though I only worked three and half days. I had a doctors appointment on Wednesday afternoon, then on Friday took off on another wandering. This time, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I took off from homebase WashMo, at our normal work time of 530 in the morning, We found our way to Interstate 55 South and headed to Memphis. I wanted to tape an episode at the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum. The museum is located inside the first floor of the Memphis Central Station. The station building looks just a office building that has been rebuilt and renovated. While Amtrak still has it Memphis stop on the second floor, since the city years ago required trains to operated above grade. The Museum operates in what looks like a retail spot that just happens to be the old Federal Reserve money dock. The museum does not have any rolling stock at this time but since it has only been in operation for just a few years, the volunteers have big plans. They want to build a 600 foot long model railroad in the old baggage tunnel. They need to wait for the city of Memphis Police station to move out. The move is expected with in the next couple of years. After taping, and spending about an two hours visiting with museum staff, we tried to find a gas station then headed to Meridian, Mississippi for the night. I will say that I am very glad Tennessee and Mississippi DOT’s still place reflectors on the road., because it was very foggy and since we were on the road longer than normal we were tired.

The next morning, Saturday the 2nd, We woke to a dark breakfast area, as the motel was in the middle of a renovation. We ate then headed over to the Meridian Railroad Museum to set up. It was a little overcast and chilly. We found out where to set everything up at. We were gong to between the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad Historical Society and the local VFW. Once we had finished setting up when off and looked around before the event opened with a presentation by the Amtrak governmental affairs VP and another VP from Norfolk and Southern Railroad. Both railroads brought their veterans engines to display during the event. The museum is located on the mainline of the NS. The museum is located in the old REA building next to the new Intermodal Station which was built to resemble the old depot. One bad thing was that the railfan porch was not open to the public the stairs and the elevator were locked off. After taping the LTT segments, we headed over to the Soule Steamfest at the Soule Factory which is now a museum. They had lots of steam fired engines on the grounds. These steam engines did not pull passenger cars, but sawed logs and made carousels move along with lots of other things. The museum is small but has three pieces of rolling stock behind the building that are in various stations of repair or should I say dis-repair. the Museum has a very nice HO scale layout inside. The museum is currently open on Saturdays.  During the LTT taping, we talked with the mayor, who has only been in office four months, also interviewed the Tourism director, nice lady who know quite a bit about railroad history in Meridian. The museum director and a volunteer were guests as well. Two members of the GMO Historical Society came on and gave us an overview about the railroad and their group. We also interviewed J. Parker Lamb, famous author from Meridian. After the Railfest was over, we headed back to the hotel to rest and clean up as we invited to the banquet of the GMO and to listen to  Mr. Lamb talk about his Meridian adventures. Then, back to our hotel for a quick sleep as we had to leave early the next morning to head Jackson, TN.

Sunday morning at 430am, rise and shine just like a normal workday morning, except this time we were 500+ miles from home. The fog was thick as we left Meridian and headed north on US 45, the same road we traveled down on. We managed to find a Hardees for breakfast about two hours north. We made it to the Casey Jones Village and Museum just like we planned at 1030. We unloaded the podcast stuff and headed inside the museum. We walked around an got an idea of what the museum had. Mrs. Shuttletrain then walked outside to the steam engine and climbed up and rang the bell several times. The other cars were not open. She came back in and at noon, the mayor of Jackson came and we started his interview. For the first time, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I were presented with tokens of appreciation from the City of Jackson, by the mayor. After the mayor, the Director of the Museum came and completed his interview. He then invited us to lunch. The Casey Jones Village has a buffet across the parking lot. The food is really good, we had to hurry and eat because we still had another set of interviews scheduled on the other side of Jackson, at the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad Depot operated by the City of Jackson Parks and Recreation Department. There we caught up with the Parks and Recreation Director and the Depot Museum manager. The museum is a wealth of knowledge, pictures and even a model train exhibit that includes a “where is it” for the children and even the big kids have fun looking for the items.

After recording the segments, we headed back across town to the Casey Jones Country Store to take a closer look see. The hotel was nearby and since we were tired, headed there next. We found a McDonalds and fed our hungry bellies. The hotel bed was a joyous sight. Then Monday morning came like a flash. We headed back up US 45, and found ourselves in Kentucky and soon crossed over the Ohio River and headed into Illinois. In Cairo, IL we found Interstate 57. Then about half hour out of Cairo, we she one of those blue signs saying “Historic Depot” So of we go on a detour to search for this “Historic Depot”. We find it in the town of Ullin. The town has rehabbed the old Illinois Central station into it’s town library, city hall and museum. When we pulled up, as I started taking pictures of the outside, the mayor was heading back into the building and saw me, He jested that it would cost 10 dollars to take that picture, and I jest right back saying that would be ok, I would just write bad things about the town in blog, website and on my show. Of course, I can;t because the building and the museum are great. They even have a wheelchair ramp on the trackside, that because of our visit and enlightening them on railfans and their needs. While we were there, three CN southbound trains came by. We said our good-byes and headed back north on US 51, We arrived in railroad turned university town of Carbondale, Il, where we wanted to watch trains, but all the parking spaces were pay meters. So we headed to find lunch, Denny’s came in sight and sounded good. Breakfast for lunch. Yes!!

Since we would be gong up IL Route 127, we called one of our fellow Gateway Garden Railroad Club members whom live on IL Route 127 near Nashville, Il. THey have extended their layout since we were last there, and took the chance that we could stop and see it. Let me tell you, these folks have a great house, a even greater garden railroad layout. Mrs. Shuttletrain, thinks that it could qualify as a botanical garden. We visited awhile and then had to run, because we still had a two and half drive left and we had to pick up TrainDog AJ by 530 at the vet’s. We made it with three minutes to spare. Got to love the Washington Animal Hospital for taking such good care of TrainDog AJ when we can’t take with us.

We pulled into our driveway and for the first time since middle of June got to  totally unpack the Liberty. I really love doing the On The Road segments for Let’s Talk Trains. I wish I could find a way to do it full-time. But, at the same time, love working at Enterprise Holdings, its a place where they make it fun and mostly enjoyable to come to work each and every day.

Something to look forward to: In February or March, we will be heading to St. Paul to be part of the St. Paul Union Depot welcome ceremony for Amtrak. I am looking forward to seeing what they did with the deport, and seeing my old friend, who owns the St. Paul Saints baseball team..

Oh yeah!…This June 6-8, I will be hosting the 2013 Rhineland Railroad Photography Weekend in the Washington, Missouri Area. I plan on having several professional photographers there, some of which have never taken a railroad photo. and have also invited some railfans that like to take pictures along with the general public. THe goal is to take pictures safely of trains, depots, bridges and other railroad related items around the Washington, Missouri area. I will post a link to the webpage for the event soon in an upcoming blog post. For now thanks for wandering around the countryside with us.

Shuttletrain Wanderings goes wild!!

ImageThis time on Shuttletrain’s Wandering we venture to a place that a railfan would love to spend the rest of year at..the Arborway TT and Northwestern Railroad in Steelville, Mo. That’s right, I said Steelville, Missouri. This railroad is a private grand scale railroad complete with full sized Class I signals. This railroad is so special that if you drive up to the gated entrance you will find the gate controlled by those full size signals. The railroad was the idea of former St. Louis businessman John R. Woods. He loved trains so much that he built the railroad on part of his property that is larger than the Disney World complex. After John died in 2008 in a motorcycle accident, his family decided to keep his memory alive and turned the railroad day to day operation over to his “FrIends”. The Friends of the Railroad keep Mr. Wood’s memory moving down the rails. This place is fantastic. Run just like a Class One, only on a miniature scale. Did I mention that the ATT&NW is one of  the largest private miniature railroads in North America.


They have all the original Bell Garden’s of the Taco Bell fame, railroad rolling stock Their pride and joy is a steam engine 801. Shiny ain’t she?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis railroad has friends from all over the United States. It truly is a labor of love for these friends. It sadden’s me to remember that I met John a long time ago at a train layout in Webster Groves, the Big Bend Railroad Club.

After seeing this amazing place., I remember why I am enjoying this hobby so much and love hosting the Let’s Talk Trains show. John was from my hometown of Webster Groves too. I found out that John never got to run 801, instead he jusst watching other people having the fun to run it. I guess in a way I am a people watcher too. I love going to Six Flags and just watching people. I remember back a few year ago, when I was driving the shuttle bus for the Holiday Inn at Six Flags and having a group of marketing executives at the hotel trying to find a way to grab people’s attention and get them to Six Flags. I said to a couple of them, I could just stop by Wal-Mart or a senior citizen’s home and load up my bus. Well, the Idea too off and the Six Flag commercials began. I got the opportunity to travel other Six Flags and critique them. During my visit to the Magic Mountain park in California, I was walking with a park manager getting my tour, when that now famous song came on the loudspeaker. People started to dance to the music. The manager I was with walked over to the dancers and told them that they were pretty good, which they were. He then turned to me and told them they came very close to me, and he as me to remove my hat, which I did. The people went crazy. Now I was not the actual dancer that was in the commercials mind you, but, since they was using my likeness it did not really matter. As long as it helped bring more people to Six Flags, I was all for it.

Writing a blog, hosting a podcast, and having a website really gives me a great responsibility. I love to bring new ideas to the table, revisit memories. and travel to places that I can only imagine I would visit. With the current state of our country, it’s almost like a civil war has begun. Trains are a hobby for me and hundreds if not millions of people. But when it comes right down it, people are supposed to be aware of others and to help one another. I try to remember that everything I do helps someone else is some way or could hurt them too. My question to you is; what have you done this week to help someone?Let me know, comment below and next time when I wander around this great country of ours I will think about what your doing.

Bye for now…..


A railfan's view of United States of America, it's people and it's railroads.

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