English group tours railroad museum

A nine-member tour group from England visited the Ironhorse Central Railroad Museum near Chisago City last week. Richard Thompson of the museum operation, standing at right, rode with the group on its 1.5-mile train ride. (Photos by Cliff Buchan)

A nine-member tour group from England visited the Ironhorse Central Railroad Museum near Chisago City last week. Richard Thompson of the museum operation, standing at right, rode with the group on its 1.5-mile train ride. (Photos by Cliff Buchan)

Ironhorse Central Railroad hosts nine special guests June 18

 

Cliff Buchan
Staff Writer

Each summer hundreds of visitors walk the grounds of the Ironhorse Central Railroad Museum just outside Chisago City. But never has the operating railroad and museum hosted a delegation from England.

That all changed on Tuesday, June 18 when nine rail fans on tour of the United States visited the museum and learned about the Thompson family operation that is now in its 50th year.

“This is just amazing. Quite an operation,” said Peter Fogiel, co-leader of the group with Keith Grafton. The delegation from England arrived in the U.S. on Friday, June 14 and will tour the Midwest before leaving for home on Sunday, June 30.

Peter Fogiel of Scotland videos the train ride.

Peter Fogiel of Scotland videos the train ride.

After a tour of the historic railroad museum and operation in Osceola, Wis., the group moved on to the Thompson’s Ironhorse Central spread late in the afternoon. The group started its U.S. tour in Chicago. After visits to railroad operations in Green Bay and Madison, Wis., it was on to western Wisconsin and Minnesota.

After two days in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, it was on to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before taking in a major railroad event at Galesburg, Ill. on June 21-23.

The delegation from England has been making annual visits to the United States since 2006. The group includes one American, Kurt Wegelius of Bucks County, Pa. Wegelius, a native of Wisconsin, met Fogiel on a train trip across Russia six years ago. The two became good friends and Wegelius soon signed on to tour American railroad hot spots with his new English friends.

Fogiel, a medical doctor from Scotland, repeatedly focused his camera and video camera on the sights and sounds of the Ironhorse Central. The Thompsons fired their diesel locomotive and covered 1.5 miles of train travel on the Ironhorse Central track.

The group also spent time touring the 1895 Groningen depot that serves as the headquarters for the Ironhorse Central Museum. Passenger cars and cabooses were also toured before the group moved on to its St. Paul hotel for the night.

Summer operation

The June 18 tour was one of the early highlights of the summer season at the museum. The park opened its season on June 1 and operates on Saturday and Sunday. The season will extend through Sunday, Sept. 1.

On summer weekends, the museum is open for walk-ins and for special groups that wish to use the grounds for outings. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Weekday visits by groups can be made by appointment.

The summer operation is under the guide of the Sunrise Northern Scenic Railroad. Admission to the railroad park includes access to the grounds, train rides, a museum pass and access to the petting zoo. Picnic tables are also available.

Admission is $12 for adults ages 13-64. The charge is $8 for children ages 3-12. Seniors ages 65 and over pay $10.

If you go

Here’s how to reach the railroad museum.

From Lindstrom and US-8, turn south on CR-25 (Olinda Trail) by the Lindstrom Dairy Queen and follow it 1.5 miles to Morgan Avenue. At Morgan Avenue, turn west and follow it for 6 miles to the museum at 24880 Morgan Ave., rural Chisago City.

From Forest Lake, take US-8 to Lindstrom and follow the CR-25 directions listed above.

A second route from Forest Lake involves TH-97. Take TH-97 for 6 miles east from US-61 to Lofton Avenue N. (new CR-91) in Scandia. At Lofton, turn north and go 3 miles to 238th Street N. on the north side of Bone Lake. Follow 238th Street to its intersection with Morgan Avenue. At Morgan Avenue, turn north and go 1 mile. The museum and parking lot will be on your left.

If the summer dates don’t work for a 50th anniversary visit to the museum, two special fall events are being planned.

The Ironhorse Central Hobo Days event is slated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22.

Train rides will also be offered during the museum’s Autumn Leaf Special from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5.

For more information, visit www.ironhorsecentral.com.

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