All aboard called for Sept. 13 train ride

Marianne Gillespie

Whether reliving the past or introducing youngsters to another way to travel, residents may want to take advantage of a special train trip.

Residents can “ride the rails” Sept. 13 from Chillicothe to Henry, have about a 40-minute layover with activities, and then return to Chillicothe.

Chillicothe Park District President Mike Krost said he cannot recall how long it has been that passenger trains stopped in town.

“It’s an opportunity for grandparents to take their grandkids on the train,” Krost said.

He said he and Mayor Doug Crew were discussing ideas, and at the time, Iowa Interstate Railroad offered a special steam engine ride.

Krost traveled by steam engine from Tiskilwa to Sheffield, “So we thought that’d be fun to do in Chillicothe.”

While the steam engine train ride is not available now, the opportunity came for passenger cars sandwiched between two engines.

The 1953 open-window coach cars are the same ones used in the movie “Public Enemies” starring Johnny Depp in 2009.

To give an even more authentic ride, a group of volunteer train personnel will be on hand to assist the passengers.

The Chillicothe boarding location is at Cedar and Third streets by the Chillicothe Historical Society’s Rock Island Depot Museum. The museum will be open that day for free tours of the collection of railroad memorabilia. Chillicothe Fire Station No. 1 will be open for tours as well.

Other activities planned for the day include vendors, entertainment and food by CHS members and at the fire department.

In Henry, the boarding location is the Henry Fire Department, 220 Railroad Ave. Activities there also include non-profit vendors, food and entertainment. A slide show of Rock Island Railroad photos will run that day as well. As plans both on the Chillicothe and Henry side are being set, the second trip of passengers will hear the Torpedo Boys band playing, followed by the Henry-Senachwine High School choir singing to finish out the day, according to Bob Read, one of the organizers.

Round-trip departures from Chillicothe board at 10:25 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 4:05 p.m.

Total time is estimated at a little over two hours for the fun that day.

Tickets are first-come, first-served, Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce Facilitator Patty Pierson said.

“I can almost guarantee that there won’t be any left,” Pierson said.

They are available during regular hours in Chillicothe at City Hall, Pearce Community Center and the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce or in Henry at the Fire Station, Read Brothers Hardware, Heartland Bank, Henry State Bank, Wilson’s Insurance Agency, and in Hennepin at North Central Bank.

The cost is $14 for adults, 13 years old and up; $7 for children, 12 and under; and free for children under 5 years old who must sit on an adult’s lap. Tickets are non-refundable. No strollers or wheelchairs can be on the train, Pierson said. Additionally, there are no restrooms and no air conditioning on the cars.

Proceeds from the event will go to community fire services.