Tag Archives: Missouri

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.


Well hello railfans and friends. Pam and I had an opportunity to visit the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railway in Jackson, Missouri yesterday. We were there to podcast this months hosting installment of the Let’s Talk Trains BlogTalkRadio show. We left our home in Washington, Missouri about 8 A.M. and headed east towards Interstate 55. which took about an hour to reach via the country highways. We headed south on 55, I will say that Missouri Department of Transportation has a long way to go to get the roads back in shape. A few years ago they were allowed to scrape off the top layer of concrete and using the guise of it will make the roads safe by grooving the roads. What it did was make the roads fill with pot-marks and holes faster.

We arrived in Jackson, found a Hardee’s, which by the way, is headquartered in St. Louis, to have brunch. Then it was off across the street to the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railway. The view from the road is just I would imagine. No fancy sign directing you into the parking lot. There was a few pieces of rolling stock visible from the highway. The railway has an old steam engine, but alas, it was in a state of repair. The repair state looks like it has been going on for a longtime.  The EMD diesel that is leading the excursions in the steam engine’s place is an old Pennsy’s. One of the three still in operation today. The engine had a flat wheel at the end of the year last year and had to be replaced. you and see the faint colors of the Pennsy’s, but rust and a new primer coat of paint on the brakemen’s side of the cab, and bright shiny bolts and rivets, stand out. There were two passenger cars that are former commuter cars that have concession stand in  one end and a narrator area in the other. The third passenger car was an old New York Central Stainless Steel A/C coach car. The car was nice, but, had a musty smell. I don’t think that I would have been able to spent much time in the car, if I was travelling. The train had two caboose’s in its consist. The last caboose on the train is painted very well. Nice and shiny. The railway uses it for the back up moves. You see the route takes a westward trip out then backs back down the track, back down the track. the caboose has a regular train horn and headlight, to assist with the moves. The railroad runs out of a corner office in the depot, with a little lunch counter operation inside the main part of the station.

There are two more caboose’s right next to the station, one of which houses that museum. For being a small space, they did load up the caboose with a lot of good things. The visitors that were there to ride the train spent a little bit of time admiring the exhibits. I had a chance to talk to some of the visitors after they had gotten off the train. some were from the St. Louis area, some from around the Boothill, a couple even came from Kansas City to see the train. Overall, they seem to have had a great experience. The railway is run all by volunteers and it does show that they pour out their heart and sweat into it. While we were there, one of the volunteer track gang, broke his wrist in three places while clearing brush. I hope he will be OK!  I was very impressed on the different themes that the operation tries to have each weekend. They try to have at least something that both children and their parents would like. They have dinner trains, murder mysteries, Santa Claus trips, Halloween Haunted Train Car trips.

The trip down Interstate 55 is worth the trip. The St. Louis and Iron Mountain is about two hours and fifteen minutes south of St. Louis. on Business 55 in the heart of Jackson, Missouri. Their website is: http://www.slimrr.com, contact them by phone at: 1-800-455-RAIL and tell them ShuttletrainTED sent you.

Also, on this month’s Let’ Talk Trains, I got to interview the Missouri Department of Transportation Railroad Operations Manager, Kristi Jamison. She was very informative in how she described the current state of Missouri’s freight and passenger railroads. I must admit this is not the MODOT of old. The old MODOT, was more geared towards highways and trucks. The threat of a lawsuit a couple of years ago, and the increased passengers on Missouri’s trains really made a statement. They have forced Union Pacific to start moving passenger trains faster and not keeping them on siding anymore. The cooperation even brought new sidings and  a new bridge over the Osage River, east of Jefferson City, by the way, the State capitol of Missouri.  People in Hannibal are now requesting that the train route that currently ends in Quincy, Illinois be extended to their town, and possibly on into St. Louis. The folks in St. Joseph are waiting for a train connection between Kansas City, Missouri and Omaha. Nebraska. and let us not forget the Nashville of the West, Branson. The MODOT folks are still working on getting passenger rail to the largest little town in Missouri, either from Kansas City or St. Louis. I personally think that Kansas City will get a Branson connection first. because of the track curvature between St. Louis and downstate is to bad. You would get there by driving faster than a car.

Well that is it for this week. Let’s Keep railfanning and be on the lookout for me, you will never where I might show up.