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.