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Archive for Sunday, July 16, 1995

MIDLAND RAILFANS WEEKEND FEATURE

July 16, 1995

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— Train enthusiasts from across Kansas traveled to Baldwin today and Saturday for the fourth annual Midland Railfans Weekend.

Scott Brandenburgh, 4, watched in awe as train cars of all colors and sizes roared by him, blowing clouds of steam and sounding their bells Saturday as train lovers and enthusiasts made their way to Railfans Weekend at the Midland Railway.

His grandfather, George, a retired train engineer, reminded Scott that he, too, had honked a train's horn.

"Yeah, I can make our trains sound like that," said George Brandenburgh, of Topeka. "It honks really loud, too."

The Brandenburghs and hundreds of other train lovers were waiting out the heat to ride, view and photograph the unique railroad equipment, most of it donated by Midland Railway board members for the fourth annual Railfans Weekend. The depot and train rides were open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and today.

The event, sponsored by the Midland Railway Historical Assn., lets the public see and ride classic and rare equipment at the same time, something that is done only once a year.

A variety of freight, mixed and passenger trains were in operation, including Midland's former Rock Island Rocket and ex-New York Central.

Train enthusiasts also rode Midland's former Kansas City Southern Railway Post Office Car No. 30, a classic car that the U.S. Postal Service has reactivated. A clerk was aboard to let the passengers send mail from the Midland Railway's standard destination, a fictional town called Nowhere.

Ernie Griffin, Railfans Weekend chairman, said the name Nowhere came about when the Midland railway was mandated by the state to have a titled destination for its tourist train rides.

This is the last season for train rides to Nowhere, Griffin said. The railroad is being lengthened, and the new destination is Norwood, a real town.

Griffin said the best part of the train rides was being able to educate and cater to the train-lover population.

"I enjoy turning back the clock 40 years and letting people see how trains used to operate," Griffin said. "Trains are one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country, and we like to pay tribute to all the foamers."

Foamers, he said, are those who tend to foam at the mouth when they see an unusual train, something he often does himself.

"I'm a foamer," he said. "But we like to say we're just railroad enthusiasts."

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