Wednesday, July 6, 2016
I was asked by the North Shore Scenic Railroad staff to pilot the NARCOA (North America Railcar Operators of America) ride on July 5, 2016. Railcars are commonly called speeders or putt-putts and there are hundreds of people around the country that own their own cars and travel long distances for the opportunity to 'ride the rails.'
There were 19 cars for this year's ride, including one hy-rail owned by Fred Lonnes of Illinois that would trail the cars. Fred is a very experienced operator and frequently operates with excursion coordinator Michael Ford of Indianapolis. Although most operators were from the Midwest, there was a family of four from Texas, a family from New Mexico, and two cars from Arizona!
Michael Ford is coordinating a rides on 8 different railroads. Two days previous, many of these cars rode the St. Croix Valley Railroad from Rush City, MN to Hinckley in back. In two days from now, many of these people will ride in North Dakota. And then, many of the cars will go to Canada for rides on six different railroads!!!
Operators set their cars on at Marbles, just outside of Two Harbors for the trip to Duluth and back.
Remember, these pictures are taken from a moving vehicle (steel on steel!) traveling 20-25 MPH and some are taken through the windshield! And they have been down-sized.
First shot, crossing the Knife River.
One of the highlights of these speeder rides is the Harbor Cruise. People get to see Duluth from a different angle and the narration gives history of Duluth, explains many of the industries that are passed, and gives lots of shipwreck history. Here is our boat today.
We then went to the Museum for a box lunch and viewing the Museum pieces. I again went through the Abraham Lincoln replica funeral car. This car was commissioned by President Lincoln but was delivered shortly after he was assassinated so he never saw it. After Lincoln's burial, no President ever used it.
VERY INTERESTINGLY--one of the speeder riders was a man who helped make this car. AND--while I was going through the car again, a man on board was vacationing from Kenosha and he was one of the chief wood workers on this car. I spent a lot of time with him learning about the car!
Crossing the French River.