Courtesy of Paul W. Chitwood, 212 S. 7th St., Conway Springs, Kansas 67031 Paul W. Chitwood, engineer and fireman of Conway Springs, Kansas. The picture was taken in the summer of 1966 at a Wichita, Kansas shopping center. 12'' gauge, 4-4-0, Great Plains
Conway Springs, Kansas 67031
You wouldn't think that a small steam train, a 12' gauge, 4-4-0, coal-burning GREAT PLAINS & WESTERN RR, with portable 8 lb. rails and 4 passenger cars, could go very far in one season! But its crew has, just 2,476 miles so far, mostly going to and from Steam Traction Shows and there are a couple events we'll want to attend before Thanksgiving which should add close to 400 miles of pulling the train-trailer behind our old Power-Glide, 6 cyl. Chevy.
May I introduce my Crew without whom I would not attempt to operate. My son, John Paul, age 13, Trainmaster who started to learning to operate Steam at the age of 10; two nephews, John Fred, age 17, Road-master and David, age 15, our Passenger Agent. You'll notice that when I holler 'John' that I've got the attention of 2/3ds of my crew - comes in mighty handy at times. On arrival at a Show or other event, we all becomes just 'Gandy-Dancers', bolting the 18 sections of track together but that is a story by itself since if you're off a 1/2' at a joint, the next joint is several inches out of line and this is compounded all the way around. The train operation is fun - the track laying is just so much work before the fun begins.
Our real traveling began Wed., July 31, 1968, when Bob Pearson, Kansas City, Kansas phoned down that his locomotive, due to carelessly parked auto, could not make it to the 11th Annual Reunion of Heart of America Antique Steam Engine & Model Assn., McLouth, Kansas, the coming week end. Could we make it? With David and John Paul, we departed Thursday evening to make the 238 mile drive. Bob's engine is a 16' gauge, 4-6-2, that normally operates Sundays only during the Summer at the Agriculture Hall of Fame and during the McLouth Show. Did we get to operate that week-end? Nope! Heavy rain delayed the Show for two weeks. Stored the train and drove home.
'A Man's Heart may be in the right place, but that doesn't help if his head is a wooden block.'
The whole crew arrived for the Aug. 16-17-18 Show but was delayed laying rail until a hill could be bulldozed off. The sofe dirt was a headache causing numerous derailments; the Roadmaster was kept quite busy shoring up the ties until just before quitting time Sunday. In that we were to run again at George Jackson's Ft. Scott Show in October we were invited to store the train in Caroline Sultz's bam, just north of Lawrence, Kansas. This, we did with pleasure. During our spare early morning hours, we learned of and looked for, two roadbeds of two old RR's that use to run into McLouth and driving to Leavenworth for breakfast and looking around their present RR's.
Since the Steam Show at Platte City, Mo., had been delayed by rain also, we attended it in Sept. with the train. What a 'lovely' run that was! Setting the rail up on the hard-packed baseball diamond and not a single derailment occurred during the whole show. Picture if you may our getting up early Sunday morning, firing up the locomotive and just enjoying ourselves by setting the throttle at a slow speed, all crew members riding the rear car, listening and watching the unattended locomotive pulling us around and around the track with a soft, puff-puff haze of smoke curling back over the whole train. David got to feeling bad on way up to Show so Caroline volunteered to come over as substitute Passenger Agent. Those Platte City fellows sure serve good food and some of the finest home made pie we've ever eaten.
Oh yes, the Ft. Scott Show - rained out again but only inch by the time we left. Last year we were mired to axle after a 4 inch rain. Came home early.
The GP&W use to be at Okla. State Fair each year for 10 day run but a Sales Meeting in Des Moines two years ago made us cancel and haven't been back since. We think nothing of going thru Okla. City, Kansas City or Wichita with the heavy train trailer. Our pick up may be slow but run about 50 MPH on the highway.
We're interested in learning of others with steam locomotives of any size. The CHITWOOD RR Crew will fire up 1st Sat. in Nov., at Hutchinson, Kan.
'Some People never speak mean thoughts: they just think them.'