Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Riding the rails

Chuck alluded to myself and Glen in a recent blog about the KCS (Kansas City Southern), and it brought back memories of riding the KCS passenger train to Poteau, as my friend Mike Mattison and I used to do in our younger days. It was nothing to catch the train at the depot in Heavener and ride to Poteau for an afternoon, and catch the train back.

Poteau? What was that about? Well, because we could, I guess. An afternoon of walking the streets in Poteau wasn’t bad entertainment and it was cheap, too. The depot in Poteau was at the far end of downtown, but not so far we couldn’t walk to some of the stores or to a cafe to eat, like maybe Walt’s Steakhouse. There was some little hamburger joint right on Main Street , that my mother later on -- after I went off to college -- worked at. Of course, Mike could ride for free, since his dad Charlie worked for the KCS, but it didn’t cost me much.

I even rode the KCS to Joplin to visit my girlfriend at the time, Dayle Dedmon. I was probably a senior in high school or a freshman at Carl Albert. All I know is riding the train wasn’t a bad mode of travel. Since, I have ridden on AMTRAK a few times. One time, my daughter and I went to Dallas to eat and spent the night in a hotel. Cynthia and I rode AMTRAK to San Antonio one summer. And now that her daughter Tammi and son-in-law have moved there, she will probably go for a visit. She’s already checked out the fare!

Cynthia and I even talked (briefly) about catching it to California and riding up the coast, then across to Chicago and back this way. We decided it was too long to ride on a train and we’d rather go to California in our RV after she retires – in 21 more weeks!


At December 10, 2008 at 9:06 AM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

Hey, John. The next time we get together, I want you to brief me on train riding. That trip to San Antonio sounds like fun.

At December 10, 2008 at 9:14 AM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

I really long for the old days when passenger service was available over most of the country. We could go all the way to California on my father's pass for about one cent per mile---$15.00 for a trip from Heavener to Los Angeles! Of course, riding on KCS tracks was free.

AMTRAK is just not the same as it was then, primarily because I have to go somewhere else just to catch a train. I rode an AMTRAK from Nashville to Louisville many years ago and, while it was three hours late, the onboard food service was great because of the dedication of the dining car chef.

When I am in Europe I ride the rails in preference to an airplane. The distances are typically less than 500 miles and the trains terminate much nearer the central parts of the cities so it is easier to get to a hotel.

I have some historical material about the KCS and plan to write it up in blogs as I have time.

At December 11, 2008 at 10:57 PM , Blogger Pat Burroughs said...

Congratulations on Cyndi's upcoming retirement. Hope you both enjoy it immensely. I miss the trains, although I never got to ride them much. I was really impressed with the train service in Great Britain. We bought a pass and used it for several days. They didn't even check it very often. If we'd been dishonest, I think we could have used it forever. You can go almost anywhere over there on the train, and where it doesn't go, the buses seem to. There must be a few places with no service, but apparently not many.


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