BNSF Train Ride

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Photos by: Steven W. Looney

Visions of a by-gone era or a Hollywood movie script come to mind as the vintage passenger train of BNSF railroad lumbered into the depot at Thayer, Mo on Wednesday June 9, 2010. Home based in Topeka Ks. the fully restored (1950 era) passenger coaches are on a central mid-west courtesy tour. Making stops at locations where BNSF crews are based, to give rides to employees and their families. The train is staffed by six cabin attendants, who are college students, a supervisor, a public relations staff and a certified EMT. The staff stays in the trains sleeper cars over night and when not on duty. The train consists of different types of cars, each having extra large windows which allows passengers to enjoy the passing view. One car has tables between the forward and backward facing seats. A second has seats which slightly reclined. A third car could be considered a lounge car, with smaller bucket seats and cocktail shelves attached to the wall and a single walkway upper deck. The observation car allowed it's passengers to set on the upper level, with large curved windows to view the sights passing by. As the horn signaled and smoke rolled out of the engines, a passing view of Chestnut street in Thayer, Warm Fork river on one side and that familiar rock bluff on the other, passed by the windows. From the elevated vantage point of the passenger cars, a different view of the historic Mammoth Spring depot and dam faded from view as the train rounded the bend and passed under highway 63. The reflections of an afternoon sun sparkled off of the blue-green waters of Spring River, as cars passed over the crossings at cold springs and dam three. Along the banks of Spring River on one side, the cars pass by rock wall faces so close to the side of the train, it looks like you could almost reach out and touch the side. The origin of the term "Rock and Roll" must have been coined from a ride on a train, as the cars motion did rock and roll from side to side along the dual rails. Vistas of rolling hay fields, cabins and homes dot the landscape down the rails past crossings and dirt roads as the train rolls to a stop under a bridge at Williford, AR. The engines gently pushed the heavy weight of cars back north bound, past the back of building on Hardy Main street and under the overpass of 62/412. Rolling past trees along the rivers edge, vistas of short waterfalls, canoes, kayakers and fishermen flash past at many turns of the tracks. Cabins and camp grounds at Many island, a long wide turn with the familiar orange and black BNSF engine out front, almost filled the view out the windows, as cars pass the Mammoth Spring fish hatchery on the final leg, back into Thayer depot. As the rail cars rolled to a smooth stop in front of the depot, passengers young and old alike enjoyed an experience. Some may have been reminded of a time when riding the train was a common form of transportation. Others may have been privy to an experience that will last a lifetime.