Tag Archives: Operation Lifesaver

Chillicothe, Chula and Kearney Missouri Fill Out Last Two Weeks for Legacies On The Rails Road Show

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.

Livinvzfon mt whefre I worked on RR (1)

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!



Busy Couple Of Weeks

December started off busy for me as a rail-fan. Beginning with Monday, December 9th, when I was supposed to meet my friend Chad Martens at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri. Just as I arrived, I saw that I had a message from him that he was going to have to take a “rain-check”, as something had come up for him.

So, as I was leaving to head back home, I got this off Kiger Rd just outside the Genealogy Center’s parking lot. I tried to find a spot to take a pic of the tracks on either side of this bridge, but they ran behind a residential area, so you’d have to be in folks’ back yards to do so.


Then as I started heading back toward home, and got on I-70 West, I was nearing Noland Rd and saw a sign for the Independence Amtrak Station that I had never visited before. I put the location in my GPS and headed that way. As I was proceeding north on Noland Rd, I got this:

Here are the pics I got at the Amtrak Station/Jackson County Genealogical Library-both appeared deserted that day:





I also made a stop on Front Street that day and got these:



On Tuesday, December 9th, I had in-class training with  Operation Lifesaver-the last step in becoming a certified speaker for them.  The training included covering safety regulations in the OLS Volunteer Handbook, reviewing slides and making practice oral presentations. I was surprised that there were only three of us in the class.

This was kind of nostalgic for me as the training took place in the very same building that my late paternal grandmother worked in’retired from that used to house Loretta’s Norfolk & Western Cafe, and is now part of the Norfolk Southern Depot in North Kansas City, Missouri. Being on NS property with permission obviously provided for some great photo and video ops, so I took advantage with these:







On Friday, December 12th, my shift from work had our 2014 Christmas Lunch at the Argosy Casino in Riverside, Missouri and on my way in to work afterward, I got what I consider to be one of my best photos yet, there in Riverside:



On Sunday, December 12th,  I had hoped to make it to The Great Train Expo in Overland Park, Kansas but after church, my daughter wanted to take one of her friends to Crown Center. And though she drives, she had never driven there before, so I offered to go pick up her friend and take them. This also included a visit to Union Station. Between the two facilities, I got these pics and videos:




I got these in North Kansas City on my way to work later that week:



On Saturday, December 20th, we were back at Crown Center and Union Station after my wife, my daughter, myself and our friends Alicia and Christina Hessenflow dropped off toys at Children’s Mercy  Hospital that are gathered in the name of A Cara Christmas Toy Drive To Benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital that our family has done for the last few years.
https://www.facebook.com/cmctd .  Got these while we were there:



And then there was Christmas, when I got these:


RailVid3RailStn I will be posting reviews 0f the videos here on the blog very soon! I am not the only one that has been busy with rail-fanning . My friend Shane Mason (thebrakeman17) has been posting on his You-Tube page recently as well. Here are some of his latest You-Tube postings:

Well, let’s wrap this up with some kind of railroad music from one of my favorite artists, Glen Campbell:

Until next time, keep leaving Legacies………..ON THE RAILS!





Operation Lifesaver Brings Law Enforcement Along For The Ride


When I went in to work on Sunday 9/14/14, imagine how thrilled  this rail-fan was to find this flier hanging in the kitchen of my unit, that was from the Union Pacific Railroad, inviting Law Enforcement employees for a ride with them the following morning, to take in a presentation on rail safety from Operation Lifesaver  http://oli.org/ .  I had met some of their volunteers a couple other times this year. The first was at the Midwest Toy & Train Show at the KCI Expo Center back in March. The next was meeting John Sulzer at Parkville Days about a month ago and had been tossing around the idea of becoming a volunteer.

I loved how the location the ride would start at was just minutes from my home, and was early enough on 9/15/14, I could get it in before my shift that evening. When I arrived at the 2300 Manchester site, I met up with other folks that would be going on the ride as well from MODOT, KC Scout and the Union Pacific Police.


While we waited for our transportation to arrive, I was able to take photos like these.



And some video like this

What I want you to notice is-these are a prime example of why responsible rail-fan behavior is an important part of overall rail safety. They were taken from a safe distance. We were even visited by an example of why it is not smart to be on railroad property where you don’t belong. Then, our train soon arrived in the form of this beautiful Locomotive Union Pacific Flag Unit straight out of GE, pulling passenger cars.

Gotta love that sound! We all soon boarded and once we found our choice of seats, we were given an Operation Lifesaver presentation by Julie Lacombe -Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver-Kansas.


Judy Le from Fox 4 News was also on the ride with us and had this article on their site later in the day.



I was able to take these shots (just a few of many I took along the way. I was in train heaven!


This was 90 minutes well spent as myself and my fellow passengers not only got to enjoy all this, but I was convinced that being an Operation Lifesaver Volunteer and helping get the all-important life-saving message they share out, was definitely an immediate goal. I have since submitted and had my application approved, and completed their online classroom, and am awaiting the next step in the training process! I will keep you posted on my progress in this area! Why not join me?

Again, my thanks to the Union Pacific Railroad, Operation Lifesaver, and my employer for their cooperative efforts in making this Rail Safety Ride a reality for all of us that took part! I hope they will continue events like this in the future! They are definitely helping to leave important Legacies……On The Rails!!

Let’s finish this up with some railroad music, shall we?