Archive for Monday, January 18, 2016

Midland Railroad Historical Association battling vandalism, thieves

Damage on one of Midland Railway Historical Association's rail cars. The organization said it has had a vandalism problem for the past several years.

Damage on one of Midland Railway Historical Association's rail cars. The organization said it has had a vandalism problem for the past several years.

January 18, 2016

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Baldwin City's Midland Railroad Historical Association has a vandalism problem.

For the past several years, the association — which showcases multiple historic pieces of train equipment and hauls around 25,000 passengers between Baldwin City and Ottawa each year — has suffered tens of thousands of dollars in damages from vandals and other intruders, said General Manager Allen Kinsley.

Last week, a passenger car built in 1916 was vandalized yet again, Kinsley said. The car was taken out of service years ago and sidelined until some wheel work could be done. Since it's been out of service, the car has been frequently visited by vandals and thieves looking for scrap copper.

"They've broken out almost all of the windows on the east side and now they're trying to rip out the window frames. They've kicked in the doors of the car, spray painted the interior and seats. They've started stripping the copper out of the car and cut the fuel lines off and everything else," he said. "Not only have they done that to that one, but they've started on two other passenger cars we have up there."

"Our insurance had a maximum of $30,000, and the damage estimates came in over that," he added.

Baldwin City Police Chief Greg Neis said his department takes reports from the association a few times a year. Each time, it's difficult to catch any criminals in the act because of the layout of the property.

"It's been an ongoing deal," he said. "The problem is they have those cars parked way back in their abandoned railroad."

Because of the location of the cars, it's not practical to send officers patrolling in that area on a regular basis, and it's difficult for others in the area to notice any potential nefarious activity, Neis said.

"There's no access back there, it's grown up on both sides of the right-of-way, covered by trees. People who live close to it can't see what's going on in there and so we have no idea when there's anybody there," he said.

Kinsley said the association plans to add security measures to the property, but the nonprofit group does need to overcome some financial limitations before that can happen. In addition, the group relies entirely on volunteer labor, which limits how often they can check on their equipment.

"There are only a couple of us that live here locally, and the rest of the volunteers live outside of the community," he said.

Not only is the ongoing vandalism causing financial strain on the association, Kinsley said, it's also taking an emotional toll.

"It's hard on a lot of people in our organization, because when you're passionate about what you're volunteering on and stuff like this happens, it kind of kicks you down a notch," he said.

Adding a few security measures around the property should help curb any vandalism going on, Neis said. Plus, police would appreciate any help they can get from the community along the way.

"If citizens see somebody up in there that they don't think belongs in there, and if they call it in, it gives us an opportunity to get up there and check and see if anything is going on," he said.

Comments

Stacy Napier 1 year, 2 months ago

Really??? Your insurance has a maximum of $30,000. I carry $100,000 property in car insurance and at least $300.000 on my home. I wonder how much liability insurance they carry? If it's that low I wouldn't set foot on their train or tracks.

Allen Kinsley 1 year, 2 months ago

Stacy..... This car alone had property damage insurance of $30,000.00. Each car, locomotive, etc on a railroad has its own value and has to be listed individually on the insurance. damage to the car is 2x's that amount. Then we had to buy the car back because we had already invested $10,000+ in wheel work.... We carry $6 million in liability. Insurance premiums a year are over $25,000.00 for the organization. Property damage insurance and liability are two different things.

Stacy Napier 1 year, 2 months ago

I am aware of the difference in insurance coverage. So the car is only valued at $30,000 and the insurance totaled it paying you 30K and you bought it back. Guess a business might want to up the coverage to cover the actual value they have in the car, or call it a loss.

Allen Kinsley 1 year, 2 months ago

Stacy....it boils down to being a Not-for-profit organization and only being able to afford certain things. We cover property at value the best possible, but...in this case, the value was based on an appraisal by what insurance would cover, when in fact....equal cars on the market have rocketed in price the past several years because they are few and far between. So to replace the car with an equal in operating condition, as it was before the damage, would now cost double, if not triple the amount it was covered. The same was the case for the damage done to the car. To replace a rare piece of history built in 1916.....with only a few left around the country...how do you really value that? For an insurance company, that is very difficult we have found.

Allen Kinsley 1 year, 2 months ago

Also, these passenger cars are the the dead end of Elm Street at Baldwin City. There is a turn around area and the cars are clearly visible...as of the last year and half. We have even cleared trees out of the area to make it more visible. The damage continues. They are not hidden by wooded area.

Stacy Napier 1 year, 2 months ago

Sounds like you are calling out the Baldwin Police Chief on his statements.

Allen Kinsley 1 year, 2 months ago

No, not at all Stacy. Just stating a fact and it may be that he is not aware of the work that has been done. No need to stir drama. The police department has done everything they can and been a huge help, but they need help catching these people.

Justin Hoffman 1 year, 2 months ago

Allen- Have you considered putting up a couple of game/trail cameras? They can be kind of pricey ($75-$250) but are highly effective in catching both animals and humans on camera with suprisingly good quality. Just a thought.

Allen Kinsley 1 year, 2 months ago

yes sir! I think we have a gentleman that is donating a couple. Thanks Justin. Hopefully that will help us out.

Bill McGovern 1 year, 2 months ago

Stacy should do some research before posting such useless comments.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 2 months ago

The Midland Railroad is run entirely by volunteers. They've done incredible work restoring some the railroad cars. We took our grandson to see Thomas the Train. Last winter, we went on a dinner mystery theater trip. Next year, we are considering the Christmas train. This is an incredible railroad and a great tourist attraction. I'll bet they would accept some help.

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