Tag Archives: RailPark

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!!

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.