Railroad Days experiences hiccup Saturday

working on caboose
Before the diesel locomotive took on passengers or the older steam-powered train came out, the group wanted to test the tracks for safety. The group used the diesel locomotive, which is heavier than the steam locomotive, for testing. But, the expected problem didn’t occur. Instead, the wet railroad ties, which hold the rails upright and transfer the load to the substrate and ballast beneath the tracks, didn’t hold tight to the spikes or rail, Gehringer said.

“Some of the [railroad] spikes on the outside didn’t hold the outside rail tight enough, so the outside rail moved out and two of the wheels dropped down,” he said. “We had to quick do the routine to get it back up.”

After the team used a rerailer to get the train back on the track and fixed up the track, volunteers took the train on several test loops to make sure everything was safe, he said. After other safety tests, train and doodlebug rides began at about 12:30 p.m.

In addition to the train rides, Railroad Days featured rides on the steam-powered carousel, tours of the Roundhouse where locomotives are stored, an early lunch of hobo stew on Sunday and a non-denominational church service in the Chapel Car Emmanuel.

The Emmanuel Chapel Car, according to Friends of the Railway volunteer Laura Palmer, is one of just three recorded Baptist missionary train cars still in existence. Of them, the Chapel Car Emmanuel is the only one to still have church services performed in it. These services happen once or twice each year, depending on pastor availability. This year, the Jamboree in August is scheduled to have the second service this year.

Saturday featured a presentation by Rick Mills, the curator of the South Dakota State Railroad Museum in Hill City. Mills gave out plaques to two South Dakota Railroad Hall of Fame inductees, including D&I Railroad located in Dell Rapids and the Sioux Valley Model Engineers Society of Sioux Falls. Another inductee, Kalmbach Publishing Company, was unable to attend the presentation.

Mills discussed the history of railroads in South Dakota, railroads’ effect on the development of towns and cities in the region and the historical preservation work of the museum and local groups like the Friends of the Railway.

“One of the things we’ve done is try and bring all of the entities that preserve railroading history in South Dakota together. Because, let’s face it boys and girls, we’re a small pond, when you get down to it,” he said. “What we do, we do out of love and out of respect for our heritage.”
Courtesy Madison Daily Leader
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