Tag Archives: American Passenger Heritage Foundation

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.

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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.