Tag Archives: washington_missouri. Amtrak

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!!

Choosing Railfan watching locations

As a child, growing up in a house that was next to the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (FRISCO) Cuba subdivision in Webster Groves, Missouri with the Webster station that contained at the time a little train layout that was called the Springfield and Ozark aka the Big Bend Railroad Club. I was always intrigued by the trains. The members were always welcoming to me and my family. I had two uncles that worked for the roads. One worked on the Illinois Central and the other the Missouri Pacific, running the Kirkwood Local. I would often run down to the MoPac tracks after school to meet my uncle and ride his engine back to the Mill Creek yard, where he would then put me on a FRISCO train that was headed back to Webster in time for dinner. Of course, that was pre 9-11. I would ride my bike to the Maplewood Sutton Ave location and then head to the Lindenwood yard. Still other times, I would ride to the Kirkwood station and hang with a great group of people that would sit in the grass in their lawn chairs that the kept in the trunk of their cars. I started visiting Kirkwood station when I was just nine years old. I met a great man there, his name was Jim Chenault. He took me under his wing and showed me what a true railfan is and should be. He passed away this past December.  Because of him, I would visit Kirkwood anytime I could.

I got  job back in 1999 as a shuttle bus driver. It gave me a opportunity to see the country during my vacations. I got married in 2006, after being one of the original downtown St. Louis loft residents, moved to the rural western suburb of Washington. I had been to the town several times before. the first time was when my father and mother bought our new car at a dealer in Washington that has long since closed. I took the first AMTRAK train that started to be a test stop in Washington. I was there the first week they started stopping there permanently. I would take my bike on AMTRAK and get off and ride around Washington on the trail or around Downtown Washington. I remember each and every hill. Afterall, the town is on the banks of the mighty Missouri River.

When I got married and moved to Washington, I went to a public hearing about the planned rebirth of the downtown area. I was the only member of the community to stand up and speak about the TIF. I was for it, after a bank was going to expand and create a great new landmark for Washington. Another developer was going to create group of row-condos that fronted the front door of Washington. The town has a passenger depot and a freight depot. The benches in Railroad Park face in  and have not been turned around so that railfans can watch the trains. The freight depot was recently converted to a retail.manufacturing business. The visitors center staff are Chamber employees. Most do not understand or have time for the railfan. I am trying to change that slowly. I am trying to show them, if you show interest in railfans , they will come and visit the town like all those motorcycle folks that visit town.

A few miles east down the Missouri Pacific line, lies Pacific. This town, was renamed after the railroad carrying its name. The town has hosted railroad days as long as I can remember. The steam trains have paid a visit, Amtrak has paid a special whistle stop. A local group of business owners in the downtown area, got together made a park next to the mainline of the Union Pacific and the BNSF railroads. the lines parallel each other pretty much most of the way from the Mississippi River. The line part from each other, in Pacific. BNSF’s Cuba subdivision heads to Springfield. Missouri via Cuba, Missouri. thus it namesake. UP’s heads west through two tunnels to Jefferson City and on to Kansas City.

A local concrete contractor turned property owner, found a local railfan, that was turned off by the Washington, Missouri folks not being interested in railfans, and the business they could bring to the town. The railfan, Bob, discovered that the property owner had a building right next to the UP tracks and was interesting letting railfans start a viewing center in the building. The property owner, Ron had no idea what a railfan was. All he knew that the city hosted a annual Railroad Days that attracted lots of people. Plans started growing. When I was first introduced to the center and both gentleman. I feel like they have a plan. I know that it is a grassroots plan. They seem to have the city of Pacific officials watching cautiously. I hope to bring them together with folks from Rochelle, IL and Galesburgs, IL. These two communities have shown that if you plan, build it, they will come.  I have visited the center several times. I have even podcast the Let’s Talk Trains show from there. I am pleased that each time I go, I see new visitors and new blood watching the train. The center is in a great spot. next to two different railroads. The city is on the Old Route 66, now known as Interstate 44 which runs from St. Louis to Tulsa. Their website is still in the infant stages but it is up and running: http://www.Route66railfan.com. Keep watching for updates on their progress in upcoming blog post.

That’s it for this posting, we will to it again soon.