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

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…..


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.

Where have you been?

Well it has been quite a while since I wrote in Shuttletrain’s Wanderings. Sorry I have not kept up. With all the new stations opening up, the new Request-It’s coming in it has been quite busy in the IMWorld. So here it goes. Way back in January, I filled in for a sick co-host on the Let’s Talk Trains radio show, by broadcasting from a winter meeting of the St. Louis Gateway Garden Railroad Club that my wife and I were attending. I just walked up to the club president and asked him if he and a couple of members could talk during the two hours show. The show turned out to be the most listened to show of the past five years. The later in February we found another hot topic, railroad trespassing. That too was a huge audience. Then in March, I got sick and was in the hospital for diabetes issue. Better now doctors quickly got me back on my feet. In April, Mother-In-Law fell broke hip, then pasted away due compilations. May was a fast month nothing really eventful. But by June, I was ready to hit the road. Traveled to Springfield, Missouri to see grade school friends and of course a railroad museum. Over the July 4th weekend, decided to drive to Georgia and Florida. We left St. Louis and drove to Metropolis, Illinois where we had dinner. Since I left straight from the contact center, I still had my Alamo shirt on. While we were sitting eating a man, his wife, child and dog came up to patio to eat their dinner. The man noticed my shirt and asked me where the nearest Alamo was,, since he did not know of any in the near vicinity.. I told that I worked at corporate contact center in St. Louis. The gentlemen then informed me that he also worked for Corporate at the Clayton Center, but was just getting ready to start working at the Weldon Center. The gentleman asked what department I worked for. I told him Information Management-Stations. He immediately asked my name. I told him, and right away he said his name was Garrett Knowles. The same GarrettKnowles that I was emailing back and forth almost every week for my role in IM Stations. We talked a little while our wives talked among themselves. After finishing dinner we headed our separate ways.

We were about a half-hour out of Nashville, when the skies opened up and rain began to fly right towards the windshield. We managed to get to the hotel for the night with no problems. The next morning, woke up to a wet Nashville, but we could not sightsee as I forgot that we would be crossing the time zone into the eastern daylight time zone. We then drove from Nashville through Chattanooga, TN to the town of Dalton, GA.. Dalton was supposed to be the sight of a meet and greet with rail fans from the area, but, because of the forgotten time change we were an hour late. Thank goodness for Facebook, I updated the Let’s Talk Trains Facebook page with a rain delayed arrival. We arrived in Dalton to a crowd of about 30 people that were there to watch trains and meet me and Mrs. Shuttletrain. After visiting for about two hours, we headed down a rainy Interstate 75, through Atlanta, and then once we got near Macon, we jumped off Interstate 75 onto Interstate16, over to the evening stop of Waycross.

The rain continued as we arrived into Waycross, then stopped. Somebody must have had an inside action, because the entire town was turned out, lining the streets and sidewalks, and any available grass to watch the scheduled fireworks. from the town stadium. We had to be very careful driving around it all, children everywhere. We could not find the hotel, so we stopped at KFC to get dinner and ask directions just as fireworks started to go off. Waycross is a town that has railroad tracks on almost every side of the town,. The hotel was nice and the front desk agent even gave us a deeper discount because she saw my Enterprise key ring. We unpacked to luggage and headed into the room just and time as the sulfur smell was getting stronger.

The next morning packed up and headed down that historic road, US highway 1. Once we got to the US Wildlife Refuge called Okefenokee, we drove through and saw lots of gators cranes and other birds. We then pulled into the town of Folkston, GA which was where going to tape an episode of the Let’s Talk Trains show. We first head to the Okefenokee Diner to have an interesting lunch,. The drove to the Folkston Funnel Rail fan Platform. We talked to some of the rail fans and watched trains go by then headed over to the museum where the show was going to recorded from. We talked with the current and past mayors. the chamber president and three rail fans about the town and their rail platform. It rained off and on and trains kept passing quite often, as Folkston is the single point that all railroad traffic into and out of Florida comes through. We visiting until five in the afternoon. We got back on US 1, headed south into Florida, then hopped on Interstate 10 west to go to Tallahassee, for our dinner. Spending the night in the town of Bonifay, Florida. Bonifay looked to be a small interesting town, but, we could not spend too much time the next morning as we had to be in Fort Walton Beach by noon.

The trip from Bonifay to Fort Walton Beach was met with signs along the way saying water over roadway. It seems that the four days of rain caused the lowing beachfronts to flood and hold water.. Driving into Fort Walton Beach, we had to drive through several inches of water. Thank goodness we had a Jeep with four wheel drive. We checked into the hotel and then got ready for the beach wedding that we were there to attend. It managed to stop raining along enough for the weeding to take place. Then the partying began, which ended early for us, as we have to leave by 645 the next morning to drive back to St. Louis, since both Mrs. Shuttletrain and I had to be a work the next day..

Coming in less than two weeks, we will be off to Park Forest, Illinois for another Let’s Talk Trains show. After that, we drive to Sycamore, IL and Milledgeville, IL to celebrate Mrs. Shuttletrain’s aunts birthday along with my 51st birthday. Morton, Illinois has a great library of railroad artifacts so we will stop there on the way back to St. Louis. In August, two show trips are planned. and one in September. I will fill you in on those next time. Till then keep travelling, and remember Look, Listen, before you cross railroad tracks.

Thanks for wandering.

It’s Been Awhile…

Hey, everyone it already February. It has been a two months since I have chatted with you. I apologize for not posting during the month of January. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I got to celebrate with our relatives. Did not travel anywhere, other that right in the metro St. Louis.  I got to spend some time in my role as Railfan Relations Director for the Route 66 Railfan Center and RailPark at the World’s Greatest Hobby show. I got to interact and meet lots of railfans and other people interested in railroading. Then a couple of weeks later, hosted the CEO of the new corporation that took ownership of St. Louis Union Station, Bob O’Loughlin, He was a great guest on my second show of January. It was a delight knowing that a place that is near and dear to me, is getting a third life.

I should mention, that the week before that show, I tried to to do another and had to cut that show short, as I was not feeling very well. I ended up in the hospital for four days. I had bronchitis/diabetes/heart issues. everything got back on track, and doing much better. I am back at work enjoying the job.

Ok, here comes the biggest news….Mrs. Shuttletrain and I are planning on building a garden railroad on the north side and back of our house in Washington, Missouri. We are just in the planning stages, so we have joined the Gateway Garden Railroad Club. We are planning on have the Missouri Pacific and KATY represented.  We visited the Gateway Garden winter meeting and joined up with some great people. I am glad to have their knowledge and experience.  We will show pictures each step of the way.

That’s it for this posting, more soon I promise.



Railroad’s Responsibility vs St. Louis Post Dispatch

A  Couple of weekends ago I was reading the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s online service, StlToday. I saw a little line on the home page that caught me eye. It was called, Death On The Rails. I watched the video clip that was attached and I could not believe my eyes. Having a broadcasting background, I was amazed and stunned at what I saw. The video was promoting a new newspaper series on pedestrian deaths and blaming the railroads for not doing enough to stop the actions of people trespassing on private, railroad property. I even had Mrs. Shuttletrain, watch. I called my Kansas City friend and fellow host of the Let’s Talk Trains. He watched the video and was to surprised to see how slanted the video was. This was even before seeing the articles. During that Saturday’s Let’s Talk Trains show, we spent part of the second hour talking about the series. The first installment, was posted and immediately posters started posting how slanted the article was. Most were from the St. Louis area, I posted the link on the LTT’s facebook page as a point of interest to our listeners. As the following articles came out, more and more poster’s saw what the so-called enterprise reporter were doing. They published pictures of young people, walking along the tracks or just starting to cross the tracks. Poster’s asked whether or not they called police, or staged the pictures, encouraging the trespassing to make there point.

The articles had the follow titles; In Maplewood, ‘How many people does it take to get killed before they take action?’: Hundreds die walking the tracks each year; A mother killed, her son injured, yet the railroad refuses to whistle.; Railroads have fought efforts to identify problem spots for pedestrians; Rail safety group shrinks as danger grows; Towns, train fight over fences — and responsibility for safety; Light rail sees fences differently; Criticism of fencing disappears from railroad regulator’s memo. They even had the editorial board write an editorial after the series was done, praising the reporter for doing such great job of reporting. After the postings complaining of the hatchet job the reporter was making, They starting posting all the awards that the reporter and the photographer had previously received for their stories. They also tried to say that they had “conducted more than 90 interviews for these articles, talking with victims’ families, railroad officials and workers, regulators, public officials and police, and reviewed thousands of pages of court documents, regulatory filings and industry publications.

As a child, growing up right next to the tracks. my birth house was two houses away, I was always made aware by my parents of the dangers of railroads and to have a very healthy fear of being hurt by them. I will admit that I would walk across the tracks from now and then, but, and a its a big but, I never did it with earbuds, or earphones. I never think of walking in the middle of the tracks as children do now. I would always cross straight across. This was in the days when rail traffic was higher than it is now. I did ride bicycles down the right of way as I see kids doing these days. I always made sure that I when I crossed, I had a clear line of sight both ways before I crossed. These were the days before quiet zones, back then you could here the train several grade crossings away blowing the horns. I think that quiet zones are wrong and give the NIMBY’s too much power. After all,   in most cases the railroad was there before the homes or most the current families moved in.  I watched each article comments, very closely. The mother of a Kirkwood student that was wearing earbuds, and walking on the tracks as short  cut as he had many times before, was run over by an AMTRAK train headed to it’s station stop in Kirkwood. Since I have ridden that line many times. I knew the crew that was on-board that day. I know that they had a bad time dealing with the fact that the student was killed. The mother sent my a personal facebook message that my now departed mother, knew and loved the student a lot and that my postings were not honoring my mother or the student. I stepped back a moment and thought about what she said. As a railfan and train show host, I knew that, I was sorry that her son was killed, but to be part of a story that blamed the railroads for contributing to his death, that was just plain wrong. The series had another parent blame the railroads for not putting up fences in areas that had high number of trespassers near Chicago and they even tried to say that an east coast railroad was covering up because a in cab camera was not working. The in cab cameras are not required and are not part of a locomotives operation.

The series did have a comment from the Union Pacific Media Relations Director, but the only line used made him and his railroad look bad. I know the person directly and he would have have lots more to say besides what was printed. Can you say, “taken out of context”. The series then focused on Light Rail operations, basically having their PR person say that they are going to fence the entire line. Of course, the Light Rail is a public funded organization and the use electric wires to power the trains.

The comments kept pouring in, on the website. I decided that I would devote another hour on the topic, I invited a Webster Groves Police Captain, two AMTRAK station managers on the show. The police captain said that have a great working relationship with the two railroads that travel through the town. He was open to the idea of anything that would help keep people off any private property, but that it fences were not always the right solution. Personal responsibility is the number one solution. The AMTRAK station managers pointed out that they have on more than one occasion people taking prom or wedding pictures.  They both agreed that if fences were built people would cut through them or just walk around. The mentioned that building bridges would be just an annoyance and people would not use them. When I brought up the comments made by a former VP of American Association of Railroads that railroads needed to do more. I was told by guest that they did not believe that the man said that and that his words were again taken out of context.

Are railroads to blame? I still say no. I do not think that the Post Dispatch did anyone a favor by running this story except lawyers. I think that the story was driven by the ambulance chasing lawyers. Just saying. Please read the articles and leave your impressions on the newspapers website and here. Please just remember, I do not want anyone to die around railroads, I just want people to be act responsible around them.

Thanks for wandering.




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

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