Sunday, December 10, 2023

Rhythm of the Rails 2023

 This post is a little late but none the less was a significant event in 2023.

On Saturday, April 15, the Marshall County Arts Cooperative sponsored a live music and video presentation in the Waterville Opera House.  Performing were Chris Biggs and Ken Gustin, better known as "Biggs and Gustin", from Manhattan, Kansas.

Preceding the concert, MCRHS gave rides going west from Waterville to "Somewhere".  At "Somewhere" the train was robbed by three riders on horseback.  Sharon King was along for t
he ride as a history re-enactor.

A bus load of about 50 participants from Topeka attended the event and overall about 100 participants and helpers took advantage of a meal prepared and served at the Weaver Hotel.

Ken and Chris did a warm up session at the Nigley Saloon on Friday evening prior to the 2pm performance on Saturday.  They perform on a regular basis at the Little Grill and Bluestem Hotel in Manhattan as well as various other locations.  For more information on Chris and Ken, visit their web site at

Providing special assistance for the concert were Bruce Dierking, reading a script during the video portions, Tommy McNish for doing the computer and video work, and Kathy Menzel for operating the lighting in the opera house.  Prior to the concert, Beverly Hedke played the piano for entertainment in the Nigley Saloon.

At the conclusion of the show, Ann Walter made a presentation to the family of Milford Godsey to recognize him for being the last Missouri Pacific RR ticket agent in Waterville.

A second performance of the "Rhythm of the Rails" is being planned for June 8, 2024.

Ghost Ride 2023

 On Sunday, October 22, MCRHS had a fall event with five "ghost rides" leaving Waterville and traveling west to "Somewhere".  There were a total of 99 passengers during the event with a net revenue of $633.

Sandy Harding was the event organizer.  Other MCRHS members helping with the event were Gene Harding, Ann Walter, Charles and Mary Weickert, Jim Turner, Pat and Kenny Winkenwader, Casey Campbell, and Chelsea Fisher.  Also helping out were Karl Prinslow and Parker Winslow.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Coop Demolition

The windstorm that went through southern Marshall County on July 10, 2018 heavily damaged the Waterville Coop building and 3 grain bins west of the motorcar shed in Waterville.

Last week heavy equipment was brought in and demolition began.

As of Thursday, April 23, two of the bins had been razed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - all down on the west side. Photos are looking back to the east.

Link to a video shot by Scott Blaske
(You will need to cut and paste the link)

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Quilt for Larry Springer

Last fall a group of quilters in Blue Rapids began making quilts for veterans.  Kathy Crawford is one of those quilters and she had an extra quilt on hand, which she decided to give to Larry Springer.  For those that do not know Larry Springer, he has been one of the work-horses with the Central Branch Railroad.  In the past year he has had some health issues that resulted in him moving to Cambridge Place Nursing Home in Marysville.

Larry Springer was born and raised in the Waterville area.  Larry and his twin sister Lola were the youngest of 8 siblings.  He served in the U.S. Army as a Specialist 4th Class (1956-1958).  Larry had five brothers, Gail, Lyle (Max), Keith, Neil, and Lee that had also served in the Army.  He also had an older sister Elaine.

Larry became a master electrician in charge of two power plants in Colorado and returned to Waterville after retiring.  He had attended the same country school as Kenny Winkenwader, another of the CBRR workhorses, and became interested in the MCRHS through conversations with Kenny.

The Springer Post No. 332 of the American Legion is named after Corporal Simon “Bob”  Springer, 356th Infantry Regiment, 89th Division.  Simon was the first Waterville boy to lose his life in WWI.  Simon was a great uncle of Larry Springer.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

CBRR Polar Express

Saturday, December 7, 2019

It wasn't a particularly cold day and there wasn't any snow on the ground but in cooperation with the Waterville Chamber of Commerce "Christmas Kickoff 2019", the Marshall County Railroad Historical Society did four Polar Express rides going west from Waterville to "Somewhere" and back.  At "Somewhere" the participants were given a Christmas Bell and some candy treats.

Thank you to all that participated and for those who made donations, a special thank you.  Your donations are appreciated.

Helping with the event today were Ann Walter, Kenny and Pat Winkenwader, Larry Moon, Gary Holbert, Gene Harding, and Dave Crawford.

Special thanks to Heather Anderson with the Waterville Chamber and Ann Walter with MCRHS for setting up this event.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Union Pacific 4014


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a "railfan" as one whose hobby is railroads or model railroads, or a railroad enthusiast.  This definition fits Ed Hoover, especially when it comes to steam locomotives and the Union Pacific Big Boys in particular.

Ed is a railfan from Wamego, Kansas.  He spent a fair amount of time over the summer and fall keeping up with the news and following live videos of Big Boy 4014 on Facebook. As an indication of his love for the Big Boy steam locomotive, he is a proud owner of a model railroad "O scale" Lionel Big Boy locomotive.  Pictured is a Lionel "O Scale" locomotive similar to Ed's that is 32 inches long.

Lionel O scale Big Boy

On Wednesday, November 13, Ed visited West Elementary School in Wamego.  He was invited by third grade teacher Ms. Haynes and gave a presentation to the 3rd & 4th grade students on Wamego's connection with railroads from 1866 to the present and shared information on Big Boy 4014 operation and its history.  Of course Ed had his O scale model to demonstrate with.  Ed gave Ms. Haynes' 3rd grade class one of two 3' by 5' flags that he had a graphic artist design for him. Big Boy 4014 would be passing through Wamego on the Morning of November 20 but would not stop in Wamego.

Ed Hoover with is Buda Velocipede in front of UP 844
On Tuesday, November 19, Ed travelled to Topeka in hope of not only seeing Big Boy 4014 but also visiting with Ed Dickens, the Senior Manager of Union Pacific Heritage Operations and engineer for Big Boy 4014.  Ed Hoover had met Ed Dickens in Marysville when UP 844 stopped there in October of 2016.  Ed Dickens had allowed Ed Hoover to place his Buda velocipede on the UP rails in front of 844 and took his picture for him.  Ed's visit to Topeka was a disappointment, not because of 4014 itself but because there was a huge crowd that caused 4014 to stop short of the planned depot location where Ed was. As a token of his appreciation for the 844 experience, Ed Hoover had ordered an Adlake lantern monogrammed with Ed Dicken's name and UPRR 4014.  He had hoped to personally give it to Mr.  Dickens but was unable to meet up with him and left it for a crew member.  The day wasn't a total loss as Ed Hoover had taken his German street organ with him.   Ed said "for some reason they kept requesting that I play I've been working on the Railroad".  He said the kids loved it.
Custom Monogrammed Lantern for Ed Dickens

Notice the UP 4014 Number Shield - a full scale replica.
On Wednesday, November 20, Ed was ready to see 4014 in Manhattan. In Ed's words "What a difference a day makes".  When the crowd started showing up Ed became a crowd control person helping to keep spectators off of the tracks and also answering spectator's questions on Big Boy. Before 4014 left Manhattan, Ed was finally able to meet with Ed Dickens.  Mr. Dickens thanked Ed for the lantern and asked about his UP 4014 flag.  The 4014 crew had seen one in Topeka, saw one as they passed through Wamego and now saw Ed Hoover with one in Manhattan.  They wondered how many of these flags existed.  Since Mr. Dickens like the flag so much, Ed gave him the one he had brought to Manhattan.  Below is a link to an article that appeared in the Manhattan Mercury.

Two crew members, Ed Hoover and Ed Dicken

Several other members of the Marshall County Railroad Historical Society were in attendance in Manhattan.  Dave Crawford and Jim Turner were at the Big Blue River Bridge along Hwy 24 and Larry Moon and George Lookhart were at the South Manhattan Ave location where Big Boy 4014 stopped.  At the end of this blog you can find links to photo albums from these people.

Big Boy History and other facts

There were 25 Big Boy steam locomotives manufactured between 1941 and 1944.  The wheel configuration is 4-8-8-4, meaning there are two axles with 4 wheels in the leading trucks, two sets of 4 axles and 8 wheels each making up the drive wheels, and 2 axles with 4 wheels making up the trailing trucks.  They were designed to haul freight over the Wasatch Mountains between Ogden, Utah and Green River, Wyoming.  They replaced the Challenger 4-6-6-4 type wheel configuration.  In the late 1940's the Big Boys were reassigned to Cheyenne, Wyoming to haul freight over Sherman Hill to Laramie, Wyoming.

The story goes that the Big Boy name originated when an unknown worker scribed in chalk the words "Big Boy" on the front of 4000 when it was under construction.  Revenue service for the Big Boys ended in 1959.  Only 8 Big Boys survive today, numbers 4004, 4005, 4006, 4012, 4014, 4017, 4018, and 4023. Big Boy 4023 is on display at Kenefick Park in Omaha, Nebraska.  4023 is the only Big Boy known to have been moved on a highway.

Big Boy 4014 was determined to be the best candidate for restoration and was purchased by UP from the Fairplex RailGiant Train Museum in Pomona, California.  It was taken to the locomotive shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming for restoration and returned to service in May 2019.  Big Boys are about 133 feet long and weigh in at about 1.2 million pounds.  Big Boy 4014 is the largest, heaviest and most powerful operating steam locomotive in the world.  In its 18 years of revenue service, Big Boy 4014 had traveled over a million miles.

There have only been two Big Boy steam locomotives to pass through Marysville, Kansas.  Big Boy 4006 passed through Marysville in January of 1961 headed for display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri.  Big Boy 4018 passed through in October of 1964 headed for a museum in Fair Park, located in Dallas, Texas.  4018 was later moved to Frisco, Texas.  Neither of these two Big Boys was operating under steam power as both were being towed to their new locations.

Links to Articles

Links to Videos and Photo Albums

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Flood Day 202

Flood stage of the Big Blue River at Blue Rapids is 26 ft or an elevation of 1101 ft.  March 12 was the first day that the river was above 26 ft.  The river crested at 61.32 ft on May 31 (Flood Day 81).  By September 20 the river hat dropped to 35.45 ft (a drop f 25.87 ft).  With significant rains, the river was back up to 39.26 ft.on September 28.

Sunday, September 29 is the 202nd day for the river to be above flood stage at Blue Rapids.  As a point of trivia, the river is now at the same level that it was on April 5 (flood day 25, rising) and September 9 (flood day 182, falling).

A little review of the storage capacity of Tuttle Creek Reservoir.  The lake has three water storage sections.  The normal or Multipurpose Pool level of the lake is 1075 ft above mean sea level.  Above the Multipurpose pool is the Flood Control Storage space with an upper elevation of 1136 ft.  Above the Flood Control Storage space is the Surcharge space, which will only hold water if the flood gates are opened.

Today (Sunday Sept. 29) the lake elevation is 1113.92 ft (38.92 ft above the Multipurpose level).  The Flood Control Space is currently holding 897,155 acre·ft of flood water or 47.67% of its capacity.  The lake currently has a an area of 36,143 acres, which is over 3 times the Multipurpose pool area of 10,900 acres.  This also means the lake is still covering 67% of the area it covered when the Flood Control space was at maximum capacity.

The release rates at Tuttle Creek Reservoir, Perry Lake, and Clinton Lake are essentially dependent upon the flow rate of the Missouri River at Waverly, MO.  Flow rates in excess of 90,000 cfs at Waverly create some lowland flooding.  Today the flow rate at Waverly is 171,000 cfs.  For the last week or so the discharge rate at Tuttle Creek has remained at 200 cfs. According to an article in the Manhattan Mercury on Friday, September 27, the release rate at Tuttle cannot be increased unless the flow rate at Waverly is below 140,000 cfs or the lake level rises to 1114.4 ft (it is very close to that now) at which time the flow rate at Waverly must be below 180,000 cfs.

Link to Manhattan Mercury Article from Friday, September 27:

According the to USACE Three Day Reservoir Forecast, the release from Tuttle is to be 2000 cfs starting on Monday, September 30.  This release rate pretty much offsets the daily inflow so the lake level will remain fairly static.  The inflow on Saturday at MT was 2,700 cfs.

FYI:  A discharge rate of 2000 cfs is roughly equal to 4000 acre·ft/day.  There is still approximately 900,000 acre·ft of water in the Flood Control Space.

Link to USACE Three Day Forecast:

Link to USACE 8-Day Reservoir Report

Link to September 29 USACE Lake Levels Report

You may have to cut and paste the USACE links into your web browser.

The Flood Control Space at Perry Lake is still at 40.6 percent of its capacity and Clinton Lake's is at 34.7 percent of its capacity.

Milford Lake is 32 ft above normal pool level and its Flood Control Storage space is at 47% of capacity with 356,062 acre·ft of flood water.

Prepared by David Crawford