Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Spooner Rails (Part 1 of 2)

I have received no pictures from Kathy yet from our trip. She had a brand new 7.2 mega pixel camera and I just let her shoot away, figuring she would share them with me. They have a new computer and may be having trouble sending them. With that in mind, I tried to think of a substitute blog subject in the meantime, since it has been a while since I entered anything.

I had a really great idea. Today is the fall show of the local Military Equipment Restoration Club, a group with which you are familiar. My buddy Dave is in it and I have been a peripheral hanger-on or even groupie. They restore stuff from WWII and have an impressive collection over the years.

I set off on the old Gold Wing and camera in hand on a beautiful morning. To my dismay, I was stopped at the "registration" office and introduced to a new concept: the $15.00 entrance fee!!

New plan. I am Rex's brother AND Swiss, therefore, way too cheap to shell out that kind of money just to take a few pictures of old junk. So I went to town in search of a suitable substitute for the substitute blog subject. If you are patient, there is a little bonus at the end.......

This is our farmer's market. Every Saturday morning for 4 hours. In the background, with the old chimney, is the blog subject. Our old railroad depot, which has been restored as a railroad museum.

..........I put this in for Mary, since she loves the farmer's market.

Sorry, no avocados here.......

The depot occupies some prime real estate in downtown Spooner. Spooner has a railroad heritage, the high school teams are called the"Rails". It was a big switching yard for the railroad in the heyday of lumber harvesting and freight of all kinds. The last passenger train left in the early '60's and we were totally abandoned about 20 years ago, like many towns.

A local retired "rail" collected memorabilia from his work (much like our Dad,....sound like a future blog?) and displayed them in his tavern, the Railroad Memories Bar. It became a stopping place for a tourist town. He retired and the new owner found that, even with the collection, the bar business in Spooner was fading. Too much competition and drunk driving law enforcement. He sold the collection to a museum in Minnesota. To his surprise, and many of us, there was a great outcry from the people of the town. We had lost our heritage!!

A group of businessmen got together over coffee (yeah, right, more like over cocktails) and pledged $10,000 each to get a loan and purchase the collection back. We stored the collection as we had no suitable place to display it. Then the railroad abandoned us and one of our group bought all the railroad real estate, including the depot. We set up a museum and my 12 year old son Jake was the first curator that summer of 1988..........

............but the museum is still not what the blog is about!

An entrepreneur independent from our group with an interest in railroad history started a tourist train with a small spur of track left in place after abandonment for a local lumber products business. He gives rides and the business leaves from the old depot. He has been at it about 10 years and growing a bit each year.

He collects old cars and restores them, for use on the train. This is a project we have all been following with interest. If you look closely at the lettering on the door, it is a tavern lounge! It is undergoing a complete, stripped down to the bare metal, restoration...........

..........Another view. This will make an interesting addition to the train. He recently began offering a "Wedding Special" with a special chapel car. It was blocked in so I could not take a picture. He offers a full-service catered event, but for a fairly small party. His usual fare is pizza and about a 20 mile ride, and it is popular in the fall when the leaves change color............