On the Road Again…

Well, hello all you Wandering fans. Hope you have had a great summer. Most school age children are back in school here in the Midwest. I previously mentioned in my last post that Mrs. Shuttletrain and I would be heading to the Chicago Southland area during the last weekend in July. Well, we did and boy was it a blast. I took a vacation day from my real-life position at Enterprise Holdings Inc.; you know them as Enerprise Rent A Car, National and Alamo. We headed east on Interstate 70 from St. Louis. to Effingham, Illinois. We then followed Interstate 57 north to the Chicago Southland area. I was expecting heavy rain during the drive. We never did run into any, so we arrived into the Village of Park Forest, Illinois. and visited the new railfan park overlooking the Canadian National Matteson connection. The reason, was because the next day we would be broadcasting the Let’s Talk Train Show from the Grand Opening. We spent just over an a hour at the RailPark, we saw over five trains pass by. 

When we arrived we were met by the Park Forest Parks and Recreation director, who then gave a a brief history and tour of the park. We then said good-bye and headed to our next meeting. It was a dinner meeting at an old Metra Commuter station turned into brew-pub, with the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau director and public relations directors. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I learned a great deal about the Chicago Southland Rail Trail. The Rail Trail includes the Pullman neighborhood, The towns of Homewood, Blue Island, Park Forest and Flossmoor. Then we got taken on a VIP tour of the brewpub by the owner. The Chicago Southland CVB officials then picked our brains about what they needed to do to increase railfans visits to the area. We were glad to offer our expert opinions. We spent the night at he Holiday Inn in Tinley Park. 

The next day started early. the public relations director of Chicago Southland CVB took us on a personal tour of the Rail Trail. I will say that the area has a lot of opportunities for railfans. With the support of the cities along the Trail, Chicago may just take the top spot for railfanning. After our quick tour, of three hours, we headed to the Park Forest RailPark and starting setting up for the LTT show. During the show, they held the grand opening of the RailPark, The Mayor, Park and Recreation Director, Chicago Southland officials and the public affairs director of  the Canadian National Railroad all took part in the show. Afterwards, we packed up and headed north and east to the town of Aurora, Illinois to visit their Roundhouse complex of shops and entertainment. We spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express Sycamore .

The next day, we headed to one of my favorite places the Rochelle Railroad Park. As followers may remember, we did a live show from the park last July. This time we just stopped by for a two hours meet and great and to watch trains. We met a whole bunch of people in those two hours and saw seven trains. We pulled out of Rochelle and traveling west to the small farm town of Milledgeville. to watch the BNSF roll by. That night drove to Morton, Illinois for another Holiday Inn Express awaited. Next day drove back to WashMo. 

The first Saturday in August we headed north to the town of Warrenton, Missouri for the annual Central Missouri Railroad Club’s swap meet. The crowd was really excited to visit with us. It was the first time, I began to feel we, the Let’s Talk Trains program, was gaining more attention. The next weekend, it was back to Centralia, Illinois for the dedication of the old Illinois Central caboose. The Canadian National employees renovated  a donated caboose that was placed next to the historic Illinois Central 2500 Steam Engine.. We caught up with the CN Public Relations Director and one of their Vice Presidents of Operations. The rest of the weekend we attended the Gateway Garden Railroad operating sessions in Nashville, Illinois. 

The highlight of the August, came up the third Saturday of the month. a trip to the Topeka Railroad Festival. KC Nathan, the Midwest LTT host; joined us to bring some of the sights and sounds of the festival to our listeners. They even had a wild west shootout during the show. Sunday we headed to the Mid-America Railroad swap meet. We bought another boxcar for our future G scale layout which by the way, we had our first planning walk through with the city engineer. He told us what we need to to to get the trains rolling.

We were planning on having the next weekend at home, but, an email from a LTT listener said that if we were free that the Amtrak Anniversary Train was going to be in Burlington, Iowa and that we should do another On The Road show from the Amtrak station in Burlington. We left Washmo at 530 in the morning and arrived at 930. It almost was a straight drive north. The Exhibit train was great. Even the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation has loaned items to the train. After the show, we headed over to the old Rock Island freight house now turned restaurant for some great food. The Big Muddy’s served fish, chicken and steaks. Everything I saw and smelled looked wonderful. Darkness fell and we headed back home to Washington 

This weekend, since we are having a guest host the the radio show, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I get a weekend at home to catch up on home work.

In four weeks, off to the town of Steelville, Missouri. Why you ask? Well find out next time.

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