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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • TROY'S COLUMN — Riding the rails speeder style

  • About a year ago I spent part of a Saturday riding along the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority’s line from old North Redwood to Fairfax as part of an event hosted by the North American Railcar Operators Association....
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  • About a year ago I spent part of a Saturday riding along the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority’s line from old North Redwood to Fairfax as part of an event hosted by the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA). The rail cars, known as speeders, were a significant part of railroad history, as they were used for years as a way to easily move along the line checking for maintenance issues. Now, those speeders have become more of a nostalgia piece, and dozens of people have become hobbyists – owning a personal speeder and riding on lines across the country. Members of the association are scheduled to be in the area once again. This coming weekend a group of folks and their rail cars are going to be doing rides from old North Redwood to Fairfax and potentially even farther Saturday, with a second ride taking place Sunday heading to the west. According to David Voelz, who is helping to coordinate the ride along the Minnesota Prairie Line, the plan is to begin the first ride Saturday at 9 a.m. The group is scheduled to be back at its starting point around 11:30 a.m. Voelz said this would be a great time for those who might be interested in learning more about the rail cars to come and talk with those who have been involved with them. Voelz anticipated they would be around for at least an hour before making their next ride heading back to the east. It is their hope that afternoon to travel farther down the line, and, depending on what is scheduled, the group may try and get as far as Winthrop. While there may not be spaces available to riders (you can contact Julie Rath at the Redwood Area Development Corporation to see if any spots have opened up), just seeing the machines is worth your time. I had a great time on the ride last year and would love to make another trip, but with all of the other events taking place this weekend, I am going to be a little busy. I still hope to at least make my way down to talk with the group to see how often they plan to come back. The speeders are going to travel to the west Sunday morning starting at 9 a.m., with a stop at the Belview depot at approximately 10 a.m. Voelz said the group plans to travel the distance of the line to Hanley Falls this Sunday. I encourage anyone who has an interest in rail history or the railroad at all to go down and learn more about these ma-chines. You never know what it might lead to for you. Voelz said there are 32 rail cars registered to be in the area this weekend. That ought to make for a pretty impressive sight along the line. … This is the final edition of the Gazette before our community celebrates the sesquicentennial, and that means our “Stories of the Sesquicentennial” feature is also going to come to an end. I want to thank those of you who got involved in the history stories we were able to share, as well as all of the positive comments I received from people who expressed an interest in the stories we printed. I especially want to express my appreciation to Roger Breckenridge who was the key to getting this stories told. If you have never met Roger, I want to encourage you to track him down, because he has a wealth of information. Thanks, also, to my friend Paul Pryor who provided guidance for several the stories we published. While the sesquicentennial feature stories are coming to an end, the history is not. We plan to continue sharing the great history of Redwood Falls and the surrounding area as time goes on, and so we are looking for your help in telling those stories. We are excited to be able to continue writing about the historic events of our area, and are hoping you continue to find the stories interesting and enjoyable. Send your history ideas to me via e-mail at tkrause@redwoodfallsgazette.com, or you can give me a call to share your thoughts at (507) 637-2929. Let’s have fun with this.

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