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
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