Monthly Archives: February 2015

Kansas City Union Station Model Rail Experience Weekly Volume One

Welcome to the first edition of Model Rail Experience Weekly. This will be an effort to document the weekly activities and special events at, as well as the history and volunteer staff that make the Model Rail Experience at Union Station possible. I am a relatively new volunteer there and am not sure just what my role will be but I suspect as I am a less than technical or mechanical person, though I am willing to try anything asked of me, I suspect  that it will be largely in a documentary role through this blog, pictures and videos.

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On Friday, February 13th as I was arriving to put in some volunteer hours at the Model Rail Experience, I parked and began my day with what every rail fan loves to do, especially at Union Station, getting pictures and video. This  Union Pacific stack train was preparing to move out West-Bound, so I go the photo and the video. That’s one thing that visiting Union Station will always provide any rail-fan with, picture and video opportunities. So be sure to visit the rear lot when you come and see what you can catch. Once I was inside the Model Rail Experience, Ted Tschirhart who heads up the volunteer staff at the MRE, informed me that it had been a pretty typical week at the MRE  and that the MRE staff were preparing for a layout at the Johnson County Home & Garden Show at the Overland Park Convention Center this past weekend 2/20-2/22 . I will have a report for you on how that went in the next edition of Model Rail Experience Weekly. Ted also shared that one of the greatest needs the MRE has right now is someone that could put lighting inside the many buildings featured in the various scale layouts. If you are someone with that skillset and would like to help, please come see Ted at the Model Rail Experience.

One of the things we at the MRE seek to begin doing is to educate folks about the various different scales of model trains being run at the MRE and to eventually create a user guide to have at each layout so those observing can do more than just that, but be able to begin to comprehend what they are seeing and the operations, locomotives and cars that make up the set. I chose to begin with concentrating on the HO Scale. This is the most popular gauge of model railroads out there, and provides for the most track, car, locomotive, scenery and other supplies to help HO Scale modelers create the best and most interesting layouts that their imaginations, as well as help from online videos, model rail publications, podcasts, clinics and tv shows can create. Here are a couple of pictures of the HO Scale layouts featured at the Model Rail Experience. HO Scale is actually 1/87 so one foot equals 87 feet. Here is something from Wikipedia about HO Scale Trainshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HO_scale .

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This particular HO Scale layout got its start in Match, 2014. It had two mountains recently added. Some of the rocks you see are real, some are made from plaster and are painted. It can run up to 13 trains on the layout. The day I was there, Ted had trains running from CB&Q, Santa Fe, Rio Grande, Union Pacific, Baltimore & Ohio, KC Southern, Norfolk & Western, Perie Marquette, Ashley Drew & Northern, and Reading. There were many, many other railroads represented by locomotives and cars that were just serving in a display role. I asked Ted if he knew how many individual rail cars and locomotives make up any certain layout and he said too many to guess. There are easily hundreds just on this layout alone, and more are added as the MRE acquires more pieces through donations or purchases allowed by the MRE budget, that comes strictly through donations. Some of the buildings on display in this, or any of the MRE layouts represent actual businesses past or present in Kansas City, Missouri. Most are donated while others are scratch-built by MRE volunteers, either at the MRE facility, or in their own model rail workshops at home, and brought in to be added to the layouts. My next step was to begin to get to know more of my fellow Model Rail Experience volunteers, and sought their wisdom to learn more about the history and operations of some of the MRE layouts. Here they are with one of the layouts that is made up of
several different scales.

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Left to right are Louis Seibel, Dave Taylor and Bob Ryan. Louis resides in Olathe, Kansas. He was formerly a part of the volunteers that ran a model rail layout that was on display at the Kansas City Museum. It was started in 1985. When the layout was moved to Union Station in 1991 (and is now a part of the layouts the guys are with in the picture), he came with it. He is a member of the Mokan Rail Joiners that turns 35 years old this year as well as being part of the Turkey Creek Division on the National Model Rail Association. He prefers working with HO Scale and also does garden railroading.

Dave has been a Model Rail Experience volunteer since 2005 and prefers to work with all the various scales that we feature.Bob Ryan started at the MRE in 2008 after a church family member brought him down and got him into it. Bob enjoys the variety of activity that being a MRE volunteer provides and especially enjoys doing projects here from scratch into a finished product. Bob has a Lionel layout in his home.

While I was there on 2/13/15, I had the opportunity to speak with Bob Deaddy from Lenexa, Kansas who was visiting the MRE with his wife and four grandchildren, ranging from age four to ten. He said he has never seen such a diverse model rail facility like the MRE before but did remember seeing a layout that the Model Rail Experience had in the main lobby about five years ago. He said his family had a 4×8 layout in their home when his children were young. He has fond memories of actually jumping on and trains in the early 1950’s when he lived near Springfield, Ohio. Not a practice that anyone in the rail community will encourage today that I certainly understand as a certified speaker (still looking for my first presentation or table opportunity) for Operation Lifesaver-the rail safety program, since December, 2014.

Another thing that made Friday 2/13/15 interesting is that we had a visit from Larry Elmore of Discover Vintage America Magazine, who interviewed all the MRE volunteer staff for an upcoming edition of the popular magazine that you will find in antique stores/malls, flea markets and much more. https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverVintageAmerica

We hope you will come see us at the Kansas City Union Station’s Model Rail Experience soon and maybe think about joining the volunteer staff or making donations that will help us continue to leave Legacies………..On The Rails!

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Legacies On The Rails Roadshow Rolls Into Parkville, Missouri

OutsideDepot

As I sit here at home, watching DVD’s of “All Aboard: Great American Railroads” that I received from my wife for Christmas 2014, I am more excited to write this post than probably any other I have done on any of my blog sites!  Among my various Facebook pages is Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (Burlington Route). It currently has 28 members. Among its newest is my Facebook Friend and brother in Christ, Craig Coffey.

Recently I asked if there are any of the old CB&Q depots still standing. Craig immediately shared the fact that the building that had once served as City Hall for Parkville, Missouri is a former CB&Q Depot, and the current City Hall in Weston, Missouri (that is also a rail museum) is also a former CB&Q Depot that Craig’s own father’s items are on display in. I then found sites like this one:

Parkville, MO train station

It documents all the still existing depots in Missouri. I also located sites that document all the still existing steam engines on display in Missouri. This gave me an exciting idea. The Legacies On The Rails Road Show that will make at least weekly “Whistle Stops” (a nod to the old steam era as well as to President  Harry S. Truman‘s “Whistle Stop Tour“) at some of the depots and steam engine displays located here in the Kansas City, Missouri area and eventually at many of the others across Missouri, and being recorded on video and pictures and being shared here on the Legacies On The Rails blog. Later there will be the state of Kansas and many others to take on!

I decided that Parkville, Missouri would be the very first “Whistle Stop” on the Legacies On The Rails Roadshow and had just the person in mind to accompany me on this new adventure. Brandon Gott-my longtime friend, also brother in Christ and owner of the Barista De Casa coffee shop http://baristadecasa.com/ that I frequent and do a lot of my writing from, and is mentioned in the acknowledgements of my latest book project 30 Godly Lessons From My Life-Volume One https://www.createspace.com/5275569?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026 had recently told me about a guy he knew I would want to meet. His name is Jordan Gallacher. Jordan is a brother rail-fan and loves taking photos of moving trains. His Twitter handle is @railmaster87. He is taking guitar lessons like I probably should be since I own one that I can’t play. He loves biking and walking. Here’s the thing: Jordan is blind. just from what I heard, I  already admired him., so yeah, had to meet him! So we became Facebook Friends and arranged to meet at Barista De Casa yesterday morning, and once I had my raspberry mocha in hand, we headed to the Legacies On The Rails Cruiser and off to downtown Parkville.

On the way into Parkville on 9 Highway, we got lucky and caught this east-bound BNSF Coal Drag.

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There would be other rail videos (most I’ve captured in a single day) and pictures to get but the real treat was the fantastic lady we would soon meet when we arrived at the 1889 erected CB&Q Depot that as I mentioned later served as Parkville, Missouri‘s City Hall that currently houses the Parkville Chamber of Commerce.….and the Cathy Kline Art Gallery. (CathyKlineArtGallery@gmail.com) .

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Here is Cathy outside her gallery with her promo banner, as well as displaying a news article about the history of this former CB&Q Depot that was active for passenger traffic until the 1970’s. Cathy was also featured in the Novenber-December issue of North Magazine in an article she authored called “Present day masters in Parkville” on pages 54,55. Cathy has the distinction of being the only local gallery that features the work of Kearney, Missouri resident, artist and sculptor Gary Staab whose work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, and he has produced sculptures for the Smithsonian Institute, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the National Geographic Society. And that’s just to mention a few of his accomplishments! You can view his work at http://www.staabstudios.com/

Here is a piece that quickly caught my eye that she did of Colorado’s Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad that I own some collectible items representing and a DVD that profiles it.

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Here are some pics I took of old photos from the history of the Parkville Depot.

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Here is one of the two windows that passengers used to be able to purchase their tickets from:

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Among the many pieces on display in the Cathy Kline Art Gallery are these pieces painted by others that Cathy teaches art to that are their renderings of the depot building.

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Here is Cathy-assisted by her dog “Bogie”-named after Humphrey Bogart-which anyone that knows my love of classic movies knows I was loving, giving us the tour of the depot and her gallery

Here is a KC Southern Coal Drag that rumbled past the depot/gallery (which is now my new favorite rail-fan spot):

But what developed during our visit was potentially the start of a great addition to the Legacies On The Rails Roadshow. Cathy was fascinated by some of the info that Jordan and I shared about trains and said she would love to incorporate more railroad pieces into the gallery and maybe even feature a section of them in her upcoming show “Wine & Spirits & Art-Oh, My!” I hinted that may-be it could be named the Legacies On The Rails section. She loves the title and what it represents, and says she can do that! We even discussed doing an eventual railroad-only art show wait for it….the Legacies On The Rails Art Show that could feature not only railroad art, but a model railroad display (here’s where the boys from Heartland N-Trak Of Greater KC, the Great Northern Railroad, and Union Station’s Model Rail Experience that as I shared last time, I am a new volunteer with, could get involved. Could even have a table for Operation Lifesaver.

Could become a yearly event, and though she and I need to discuss that later, I’m thinking maybe eventually a traveling show that could visit other former train depots! Cathy shared that the current Parkville City Hall has some railroad items on display (turned out to be all CB&Q which I was loving) so that was the next stop for Jordan and I before we called it a day, for me to return him to Liberty and me to head to work. Along the way, we heard this coming behind us on Main St and as I started to come about, Jordan’s heightened senses told him it was too close for me to catch the front of but I was convinced I could still do so. Guess what-he was right! Later as I sat there, I thought “Wait, I should still capture some of it!”

Here are just some of the CB&Q treasures displayed in the upstairs of Parkville City Hall (not showing all of them, don’t want to spoil it for ya’):

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This first stop was everything Jordan and I I hoped for but soooo much more! So I hope you look forward to many more “Whistle Stops” along the Legacies On The Rails Roadshow, and I’d like to thank Craig Coffey for helping ignite this idea, and thank Cathy Kline and the Parkville Chamber Of Commerce for helping preserve and care for the Parkville Depot, as it continues to leave Legacies…..On The Rails!

Starting 2015 Rail-Fan Style

So for the past month my railfan activities have been very hit and miss. Work, sleep and family schedules, including lots of time spent visiting my mother and father-in-law who have both spent time in hospitals and my mother-in-law is currently in. Seems that every day I am on my way to see them, there is an east-bound NS, BNSF or UP manifest getting ready to power out of North Kansas City, Missouri from the NS Depot but I don’t have time to head to my new favorite spot to get pics and video. But, most of the rooms my mother-in-law has been in have windows that overlook the depot so I grab some pics or video from there.

I had also been finishing and releasing my latest book “30 Godly Lessons From My Life-Volume One” ( a 30-Day Devotional-currently available on Createspace and Amazon) https://www.createspace.com/5275569?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026 .The front and inside covers and the about the author photos are all of me with a former BN caboose that is on display in North Kansas City, Missouri behind what is now Northland Lofts Apartments but is the former home of one of my late paternal grandmother’s employers National Bellas-Hess. One of the devotions is called “Running Out Of Steam” and likens our spiritual lives needing regular fuel from time in God’s word and prayer and the fellowship, teaching and preaching in the church to a steam train needing coal and water to keep going. I am tossing around the idea of doing a specifically railroaders edition. These things have taken first priority.

But as my fellow railfans know, once you have been bitten by the train-bug, you are infected for life-and I don’t say that in a negative conotation. So, I have taken opportunities here and there to snag some pics and video which I will as always share here.

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I want to also thank all my great Railfan Facebook pals I have been acquiring for agreeing to network with me as I get to see all the awesome pics and videos you all have been putting your hearts and souls into as well.

Guys like George Li. Railfan Jason. The Worldwide Railfan Project. Kansas City Railfans. Chris Railfan. Railfans United. and so many more. And as a tribute, I decided I wanted to start profiling some of the rail-fan community here on the blog. And my first guest is my aforementioned friend George Li-a Political Science (like my Son) and International Affairs Major at Eastern Washington University, residing in Cheney, Washington. George has been graciously, patiently tutoring me in identifying locomotives as I am still relatively new to the hobby. He takes and shares several rail photos a day.

LOTR: What got you interested in Rail-Faning?

Li: I’ve always been interested in trains. My grandpa on my mom’s side was a fireman/brakeman with a Class KD6 Baldwin 2-8-0 in China. These were ex-United States Army Transport locos used during the war. He took me to see trains when I was younger and I do remember seeing some steam switching . But really the picture taking started in the last year or so when I finally got a camera. My railfan location is Cheney/Seattle. My fav RR is Alaska RR.

Here are some of the awesome pics that George has been sharing with me and all the rail-fan community:

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Thanks, George, for your friendship, and your ongoing contributions to the rail-fan community!

And, I continue to keep up with Shane Mason (thebrakeman17). Here is some of his recent work:

I have made a recent visit to the Heartland N Trak Of Greater KC club. My intention was for us to call in to the 100th show of Model Rail Radio   http://www.modelrailradio.com/ that I am a new fan of, but as soon as I arrived and realized that the dance studio that the club is located under was in session, I  could see that this was not going to make for a quality call-in.  But I did take some pics of the guys enjoying what they do best.

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I have now become official as a volunteer with the Model Rail Experience at Kansas City’s Union Station and should have my ID Badge this week. Will be blogging about  things there more in the future. I intended to take some more video there but my phones’s camera would not cooperate and by the time I was leaving, the phone was dead enough that I had to pass up shooting video of the slow moving BNSF that was passing by Union Station‘s back lot . Curses!-Foiled Again!

But, we will all keep on pursuing the rail-fan hobby, just as those who actually work on the railroads keep up their important work. All combined continuing to leave Legacies……….On The Rails!