Saturday, September 16, 2006

Riverway 2006 Day 3

No schedule posting today, but you can find the schedule I've been posting from here. Instead, today's post is dedicated to images from this morning's events.

At 7:30 the Taming of the Slough: Mississippi River Adventure Race started off with participants paddling 1 mile in kayaks or canoes.After they returned to their starting docks near the QC Rowing Club boathouse, the rowers either jumped on mountain bikes themselves, or handed off to their biking relay partners. The cyclists than rode down the riverfront path to Sylvan Island, where they had to do 3 laps around a tough off-road course for a total of 6 miles biked. After finishing this, they traded bikes for running shoes and set off on a 2 mile run into downtown Moline and the finish line.Even while this was going on, huge crowds were turning downtown Rock Island into a chaotic traffic jam of railfans, families, and surprised passers-by. People were stopping their cars in the middle of 1st Avenue and jumping out in the middle of the street. All 3 steam engines were coupled together at the front of the Milwaukee 261's passenger train. It was really something to see, and it left me hoping that we could have some sort of permanent or semi-permanent steam engine presence in the Quad Cities. The cars seemed pretty packed with passengers, and the streets were definitely packed with gawkers, including myself.Considering that all this happened before 9:30 in the morning, this should be quite a weekend.


Anonymous said...

Rode the train to Iowa City yesterday and it was a very enjoyable experience. I was amazed at the number of folks that came in from out of town for this event. Spoke with people from St. Louis, Minneapolis and Omaha. Their only link though appeared to be that they were train buffs or "rail fans" I guess they call them and they found out about it through clubs and train publications.

I was amazed also at the number of people at the various crossings and small towns, waiting to take pictures and even just taking a gander of something from days gone by.

I think this is something that should be investigated further and could be turned into a huge tourist attraction. We need to establish a train going monthly to Iowa City or Galesburg or where ever. It makes for a nice day outing for folks and could even be worked into an outing for clubs and companies for their members.

The passenger cars were very clean and comfortable. We rode coach class ( the Dirty White Boy is just a poor boy from heaven down here amongst all you high-rollers) and had nice leather backed seats that tilted back. It was pretty cool to see the "Frank Sinatra car" with the many windows and full-view domed back end.

Anyway, just wanted to say that the day was very enjoyable and perhaps this is something to look into further as an attraction.


QuadCityImages said...

I really wanted to buy a ticket, but I decided I couldn't justify the expense right now.

Of course, when I got right down there and saw the 3 steam engines all lined up and whistling I really wished I was getting on the train. I also hope that we can make this a more regular thing than every 2 years, and I talked to at least one guy down there that said the same thing.

Anonymous said...

maybe one month to Iowa City one month to galesbug, and one month to wherever

puzzler said...

The steam train was sponsored by the City of Rock Island. Bringing in the train took a year and a half of work by a dedicated group of locals. The problem with running regular excursions is that in the Quad Cities, passenger excursions must be run on mainline freight railroads. There is no dedicated tourist line track as in Boone, Iowa. For this event, insurance costs were $40,000; another $40,000 went to the railroads involved to pay for mandatory pilot crews and equipment rental. Then there is the cost of coal, emptying the waste storage tanks on each car, renting a highlift to load the coal, food and beverages that were included with the first and premium tickets, etc. There's no way anyone could afford to run these types of passenger excursions on a regular basis. Fortunately, the event paid for itself, and the City came out slightly ahead after all expenses were paid. The City was never at risk financially; if enough tickets had not been sold, the event would have been cancelled. Fortunately, the Quad City community embraced the train, and hopefully, the Friends of the 261 will be back in 2008.