Abilene Smoky Valley Railroad
In 1993, two Abilene railfans, Joe Minick and Fred Schmidt, had an idea. The tracks of the bankrupt Rock Island Railroad that run through Dickinson County were about to be taken out by the Union Pacific, the monolithic railroad company that absorbed the assets of the Rock Island’s successor, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. Determined to preserve Rock Island’s memory, Minick and Schmidt approached the U.P. about buying the Rock Island rails between Abilene and Woodbine. After raising $250,000 from a consortium of banks in Dickinson County, the men established the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad Association, a non-profit, all-volunteer railroad doubling as a transportation museum featuring antique railroad cars and engines. This “museum on wheels” ran its first trains in 1994.
And the rest is history. In that time, A&SV trains have hauled over 280,000 passengers from all points in Kansas, from every state in the Union and from several foreign countries. This Saturday, the A&SV wants to add you to the passenger count, as they host their special “Birthday Cookout.” Powered by the iconic Santa Fe steam locomotive.
The Hitching Post Restaurant in Old Abilene Town will present a menu of hamburgers, brats and hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans. And you can have a slice of birthday cake for dessert.
The A&SV is thriving at thirty and proud to be Kansas’ only steam powered railroad and a partner in Abilene’s “Five Star” museum district. The train leaves Abilene’s historic Rock Island Depot at 6:00 p.m. Tickets: asvrr.org.