Monthly Archives: July 2014

All Aboard The Branson Scenic Railway!

If you have plans to visit Branson,Missouri anytime soon and you love trains and a relaxing excursion on one that will leave you refreshed and content, then the Branson Scenic Railway  http://www.bransontrain.com/  http://www.bransontourismcenter.com/shows/info/branson-scenic-railway?phid=284&gclid=CN_E49WUu78CFSsSMwodpF8AnA is just what the Doctor (or maybe the Conductor) ordered!

Located in Historic Downtown Branson, in an area known as The Landing, right next to the Branson Convention Center and across the street from the Bass Pro Shop and another great excursion venue Ride The Ducks (which our family did years ago), and also next to regular railroad tracks (which a BNSF Train passed by on at one point), your journey starts at the Branson Scenic Railway Station. BSRStn

Here, you can purchase your ticket, browse great collector items from the gift shop and be briefed by your Conductors about some things to expect and rules for your safety and that of other passengers during your 1 hour and 45 minute ride through the Ozark hills and mountains. Though I must tell you, hearing is a bit difficult as this takes place under the canopy where you can see waiting passengers (which was nice being under so the sun was not beating down on us) and next to the Branson Scenic Railway‘s train engine, so there is engine idle noise that interferes quite a bit. Now, they will tell you that it is “open searing” so you can sit wherever you want, and there really is ample seating, so don’t be alarmed when you are then asked to board by ticket number 1-24, 25-48, etc. As you can see, I had Ticket #148.

BSRTckt

But soon, you’ll be passing the 1963 16 cylinder Locomotive #98 that produces 2000 horse-power , was refurbished in 1983, purchased by the BSR in 1995 and weighs in at 300,000 lbs as you proceed down the gang-way and board through one of several Chicago, Burlington & Quincy passenger cars (this was a thrill for me since my Paternal Grandfather was a career man with the CB&Q including the 1952 Silver Star, a 1962 buffet dining car, a Silver Terrace, and more.

BSRFrnt

BSRFntAngl

AboutToBrd

Here are some interior views that you can expect as you are able to move about through the various cars throughout the trip.

BSRInt1 BSRInt2

Here are my wife Denise and daughter Cara enjoying the ride on the Branson Scenic Railway.

GrlsOnBSR

BSRCncsns

There is even a concessions area (seen above) where, as we did, you can indulge in things like hot dogs with chili, cheese and onions, cinnamon rolls, candy, chips, water, soda, tea and more! Though I must caution you, unless you are just dead-set on being as close to the concessions as possible for your own convenience, you might not want to sit right near the concessions area. If you do, it will result in almost constantly having fellow passengers standing and lining the isle leading into it, right next to you which can be a bit claustrophobic and make it hard to take in some of the scenic view through the windows on the other side of the isle.

Here is yours truly returning from a concession stand run with goodies for my girls and I.

MeSnacks

As your journey begins, a Conductor will tell you via overhead speakers, informational and historical tidbits about the BSR train itself, as well as the various towns the train will pass through (which despite sitting right below one of the speakers (seen below), I had a hard time making out all of.

BSRSpkr

But one thing that was not hard to make out was some of the great old time music that was played as we enjoyed our our trip. As I mentioned in a previous Legacies On The Rails posting, it was the era of songs that you will often hear by checking out my buddy John Christopher on The Neon Beat by visiting http://www.radiogeorge.com/neonbeat/ . Songs like the Chattanooga Choo Choo   

Andrews Sisters with Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy 
as well as By The Light Of The Silvery Moon 
. And more!

Of course, there are the exterior scenery you will enjoy along the way from rock and tree covered hillsides to creeks, many homes that line the route (which I was a bit jealous of-would love to have a home right next to such a great railway excursion), the Hollister City Hall and Community Center, and you’ll even pass over Lake Taneycomo.

BSRScnry1

BSRScnry2

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Caboose
(
Photo by Cara Marie’s Photography https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cara-Maries-Photography/268122999987759?ref=br_tf )

BSRTrn
(
Photo by Cara Marie’s Photography https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cara-Maries-Photography/268122999987759?ref=br_tf )

You’ll even pass through a couple of mountain tunnels that will quickly but briefly turn the sunny, daytime view through the widows into what seems like the dead of night. BSRInTnl

But altogether, the Branson Scenic Railway is a must-ride for any individual or family looking for a great time of sitting, relaxing, enjoying scenery, getting some history and creating your own memories and Legacies…….On The Rails!

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Union Station’s Model Rail Experience-Many Towns, One Facility

Who  would have thought that being on vacation this week, not being ready to leave town yet, and looking for inexpensive things to do here in Kansas City, would lead to a new, regular addition to my life? That’s just what happened today.

My wife wanted to check out the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank Of Kansas City, which is just around the corner from Union Station, where I wanted to check out the Model Rail Experience. 

Once we arrived at Union Station, it was clear that from outside and all along the way leading inside, there was much for any railroad fan to take in. But what was about to captivate this rail fan was the 8,000 square foot facility known as the aforementioned Model Rail Experience that was featured in the Summer, 2014 edition of Union Station‘s On Track Magazine.

REArticle

Many folks will come into their area of Union Station, and marvel at the many virtual towns they have set up and the many train sets that are constantly running through them, maybe watch the staff of volunteers headed up by Ted Tschirhart at work, constantly changing the rail layouts, the mini-buildings, the lighting.

LionelTown

 

RailTown

 

They may snap a few photos. Obviously I did. And more than just a few. I was again looking for trains related to those in my family and my wife’s family who have, or do work on railroads as well as other things of personal interest like these KC Southern cars.

KCSouthern1

KCSouthern2

Or this building that is obviously a Jazz establishment that looks like someplace you would go to hear music like that played in my friend John Christopher’s show The Neon Beat that you can check out at http://www.radiogeorge.com/neonbeat/.

Or this model of the Western Auto building in Downtown Kansas City that is very near one of the lots I park in for work.

WstrnAuto

Or this scene that has another of my favorite things-a classic diner. (Right side)

Classic Dnr

 

Or many people’s favorite fast food venue, Mcdonald‘s .

Mcdonalds

I am likely not the only one, but I’m an inquiring mind. And. when I started asking questions, I was directed to the aforementioned Ted Tschirhart who was more than happy to not only answer my questions, but also to have me share about why I love trains, and was soon asking me to volunteer with the Model Rail Experience. An invitation I was all too happy to accept and hope to start doing in the next week.

The Model Rail Experience has more than just virtual towns containing often familiar buildings with model trains constantly running through them. It features info on the walls that educates on the history of model railroading, the different sizes of model railroad sets like these.

GScale

HOScale

NZScale

MTH

As well as educating on special trains that have been a part of railroad’s past in America like this feature on the Portland Rose.

Portland Rose

Or these that feature a California mountain rail trip.

CalRailTrip1

RailTrip2

But to keep this facility running, so that the thousands of visitors they receive each year can continue to come to this free experience and continue to learn about model railroading, they need your help! They need volunteers with model railroading experience, or even those who are simply willing to learn about building the many rail towns they feature, doing electrical work, gluing things together, working with computers and printers, helping give tours and much more!

If you would like to help with Union Station‘s Model Rail Experience  you can contact Union Station Volunteer Coordinator Rebekah Caneles at rcaneles@unionstation.org or when you come to visit, seek out Ted Tschirhart or e-mail him at tedtsci@kc.rr.com . I know you’ll be glad ya’ did! This is definitely a place dedicated to leaving Legacies…..On The Rails!