Faron Wahl, Manager.
One of the keys to keeping our recreated historic village unique and balanced is that it is surrounded by a working, full-size railroad. And it’s so fitting. Consider that early westward expansion into the unsettled plains was largely led by the iron horse….railroads pushing into barely inhabited regions with people, jobs, and commerce immediately in tow.
How better to present a period village settlement such as ours than with a live railroad in the mix? It would also follow that the tapestry lines showing how the railroads forged the beginnings of modern communities is worth tracing, revisiting, and celebrating. Enter Railroad Days.
Much as our threshing Jamboree isn’t complete without close-up features of the machines that sometimes powered, and certainly led the way to mechanized threshing, our daily existence as a recreated village on the prairie demands a celebration of the railroad equipment and innovations that brought such villages into existence.
This weekend brings an opportunity for you and your family to ride not only trains but numerous variations of unique railroad equipment. There’s nothing quite like the up-close, intimate feel of the rails a person senses while riding on a little motor car, just as railroad maintenance crews did to move to and from remote work areas on the rails many decades ago.
Besides the rides themselves, folks will be enlightened during this event by the inside look offered at the mechanics of an operating railroad – well beyond what can be seen at most train attractions. As critical internal work continues this summer on our two steam locomotives, a rare look will be available at what makes these ingeniously designed machines function, as well as the endless labors involved with keeping them operating safely.
More of our attendees have discovered the interesting draw of the annual Opera House presentation given at 1:00 pm Saturday by Rick Mills, executive director of the South Dakota State Railroad Museum. His thoughtful program, again delivered with fresh content woven in, amounts to an incredibly interesting stroll down the paths laid by South Dakota railroads.
In addition to food for purchase on site and trackless train rides through the streets for the kids, we’ll be unveiling and dedicating the new Chapel Car Emmanuel historic marker, described last week in this column. Immediately after the Sunday morning church service held inside the chapel car at 10:00, we’ll gather at the new marker to kick off a fresh plan for telling Emmanuel’s incredible story to all visitors for the coming generations.
Tying together Railroad Days and Independence Day camping next weekend will be our Saturday evening Opera House concert at 7:00 pm. Divas Through the Decades will bring their energetic and captivating show to our stage, featuring hits of big-name female artists from various decades.
Costume changes to match the varying periods of music, laced together by these ladies’ raw vocal talent, will create an evening of powerhouse musical performance you’ll be glad you experienced. Tickets are being sold daily at our gift shop, or by calling 256-3644 – just $25 reserved or $20 general admission. Seats remaining will be available for sale at the door, but we’d advise getting the best seats in advance.
It’ll be a fun-packed couple of days for all ages – Railroad Days and the Divas Through the Decades concert. We hope to see you this weekend!