Once you read my very first posting on Legacies On The Rails, you knew that it was genealogy research and discovering the rail history in my family along the way that got the “train bug” to bite me. One of the family members on my paternal grandfather’s side that I went on to discover is what led to the 3/5/15 Legacies On The Rails Road Show trip to Chillicothe and , Chula, Missouri.
On this trip, I was able to accomplish several things. Taking my daughter Cara Losh along, just as I did on the last Road Show trip to Columbia, Booneville and Warrensburg, Missouri. Visiting with my cousin George Hess and his wife Shirley and son Tim. Getting to eat barbecue, and visit one of the historic depots-specifically in this case, the former Wabash Depot that currently houses Wabash Barbecue, in Chillicothe, Missouri. Taking a trip to visit some sites that have great signifigance for our family history.
Cara and I left our Kansas City home about 8:30am on Thursday 3/5/15 and after a brief stop at Barista De Casa http://baristadecasa.com/ (also where some of this post was written) to get her a frozen hot chocolate (the only remedy in her book for a sore throat), we headed for Chillicothe and our first stop-the home of George, Shirley and Tim Hess.
George worked as a mechanic for the Burlington-Northern Railroad for seven years-just three years shy of drawing a pension on the night shift in Livingston, Montana while servicing oil rigs during the day and serving as pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Grey Bull, Mt. He had recently sent me this photo from his days on the railroad.
This started with selling of the family farm in Meadville, Missouri in December 1972 and heading to Montana to meet with Bennett Delmar-a Missions Director to discuss several different churches that needed pastors. He and Shirley were soon flying to Casper, Wyoming, then going to Grey Bull, where he preached on a Sunday night and visited several other churches in the days to come.
He got the call to come pastor a church some time after they were back home in Missouri so they loaded a U-Haul truck, towing one of their cars behind it. He wasn’t getting paid much so one of his church members got him on as a mechanic with the Burlington-Northern Railroad on the night shift and he serviced oil wells during the day. George shared stories of several incidents that could have been even worse. Like one night he was backing up a consist but had not opened a switch, which the consist forced its way through. When he tried to drive it back forward, the brakes wouldn’t release and he realized the rear car had derailed. He called his foreman at the roundhouse, who dispatched crews from Billings, Montana with heavy equipment to set things right.
Back in those days, they were still using way-cars (cabooses). George remembers that air lines would break and he would have to crawl up under cars in 40 below temperatures with a flashlight in his mouth. one such night he was under a car, had crawled out to get a wrench and as he was about to crawl back under, someone building a consist struck the caboose. Another time, he was on a locomotive, when someone hit it and struck him in the back. In a separate incident, he was dis-assembling an engine when someone opened a valve, releasing the oil, causing him to slip and injure his back.
George and his family later moved to Aliance, Nebraska where he became a chemist for the railroad. He actually even helped set up their lab there. The conditions were poor because the building had no exhaust. Part of what he did was to burn off oil to determine how much copper and other elements were in the oil, and how much oil was getting into the water. He did this for a year before he returned to Missouri for a reunion but ended up staying, and enrolling in the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, graduated in 1984 and went on to pastor several churches, including Eden, Missouri and eventually Highlands Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho.
After hearing all these great stories, and George and his family showing us their beautiful collection of self-made quilts, we headed into town, stopping briefly to check out these great murals pained on various buildings.
Then we headed on to Wabash Barbecue, located in the former Wabash Railroad Depot, Where I also checked out some rail cars parked on tracks right next to it.
I later found a page with a picture of the locomotive that made me believe it is there specifically for display and I then wondered if anyone would have cared if I had simply climbed aboard her to have my picture taken.
While at Wabash Barbecue http://www.wabashbbq.com/menu.html I asked about their history and received a take home menu, sponsored by several local businesses, but it unfortunately only had the history of their sister location in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where I also did a nearly year long radio show on http://1027thehog.com/ . Their history can be found at this link http://www.wabashbbq.com/history.html . But the food and the service were outstanding. I took several photos inside Wabash Barbecue but dropped my camera one day since, which appears to have broken a sensor it it, rendering most of the files on the memory card unrecoverable.
We later drove on to Haysville, Missouri to visit family history sites, including the house and land that my paternal grandfather John Losh grew up in, and some family graves. As we left Chillicothe, I caught this shot of a railroad bridge over 36 Highway and these photos on our way back, in Chula, Missouri.
Later, we wrapped up the day back at the Hess home over lemon cake, ice cream and coffee before Cara and I headed back to Kansas City. What an enjoyable day it was indeed and I am hoping to bring my wife Denise to Chillicothe for another visit with the Hess family on one of my weekends off in April.
On Wednesday, 3/11/15, I headed out to the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Depot in Kearney, Missouri, located at 301 W Washington St. Unfortunately, no one was there to tell me about the Depot and the building was locked, so the best I was able to get were these photos at the depot, and of some cars across the street of cars parked at the Nutrena Kearney Feed facility across the street, and this brief video. With my camera broken and my phone running out of space, I was (and still am) a bit limited in what I am able to record.
I finished out my day on 3/11/15 with another stop at Barista De Casa for some coffee and writing time (got another blog to write in the near future that will include a story I got from one of my visits there) and caught this video from the Richfield Rd Bridge in Liberty
And these photos over near the Ameristar Casino-where my daughter will now be working near at the early learning center.
So, overall, a decent couple of weeks of rail-fan activity. I have taken many more photos since, but since my first priority right now is getting those sent to Cathy Kline at the Cathy Kline Art Gallery in Parkville, (who I meet with again tomorrow 3/20/15 to discuss some potential details for the Legacies On The Rails Art Show), and geting photos downloaded for the next Kansas City Union Station Model Rail Experience Weekly, which has proven difficult with technical issues, I will save those for another time. Or you can follow me on Facebook to see photos I post on my page and several other rail-fan pages.
I wanted to finish up this session with a musical-pictorial documentary dedicated to Harv Kahn-the now late railroad photographer. But I have to say that though all the photos are very enjoyable, some of these photos (because I am unaware if he has permission to be on any of the properties the photos were taken from), by today’s legal and safety standards, were taken from spots that are normally not deemed safe, or allowable. My involvement with Operation Lifesaver and my belief in what it stands for, indicates that I must mention this.
Until next time, I’m John Losh, reminding you to keep leaving Legacies……..On The Rails!