Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2004

Midland to open route to Ottawa

May 27, 2004

It's been about 66 years since the last trip was made, but beginning Saturday, there will once again be train service between Baldwin City and Ottawa, thanks to the Midland Railway.

"This has been a dream in the making for a long time," said Michael Fox, Midland Railway president. "This has been in the works for three years or more.

"We're really excited about it," said Fox. "It's the first time that there has been train service from Baldwin to Ottawa since 1938."

Of course, the Midland Railway has been operating the train out of Baldwin for years. But, it could only go so far before the track ran out. With money from the Kansas Department of Transportation by way of the Federal Highway Administration, with matching funds from the Midland Railway Historical Association, that's all changed.

With those funds and the sponsorship of the Franklin County Commission, four miles of railroad track and bridges were rehabilitated in Franklin County to once again connect Baldwin and Ottawa.

The trips will start Memorial Day weekend and signals the start of numerous events scheduled for the railroad. The first round trip is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, with another set for 3:30 p.m. That schedule will also be in place for Sunday and Monday. Those trains will board in Baldwin, travel to Ottawa, turn around and come back.

There's another train trip on the weekend which will cover the old route from Baldwin to Norwood and the return. That one leaves at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

"Some people don't like the full trip," said Bob Hruska, Midland director of marketing. "For those people with young kids that don't want the full trip, we'll still be making the Norwood run."

The round trip from Baldwin to Ottawa takes two hours.

The full Midland schedule is posted at the depot. Cost of the round trip is $15 for those 13 years and older, $7 for children between 4 and 12 and children under 3 ride free. For the Norwood only trip, costs are $10 and $5.

There will be a "golden spike" ceremony on June 5 along the way. Dignitaries will board the train in Ottawa and meet at Norwood, where the spike will be driven. That trip is by invitation only and will be in the morning.

But, regular service between Ottawa and Baldwin will resume the afternoon of June 5. Other events scheduled for Midland this summer will be in other issues of the Signal.

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