| GSQ Tour /
The Tour and first ever
Grand Scales Convention held in October of 2001 was an outstanding success. We
would like to thank all who participated. We had as much fun putting it on as
you said you had attending.
The Tour left Detroit on Sept 29 and immediately began with two unscheduled
stops: the Detroit Zoo
and the Henry Ford Museum.
That evening and night was spent in Frankenmuth, Michigan at the famous Bavarian
Inn where we all enjoyed a fantastic meal.
A railroad in Bridgeport, MI canceled on their previous arrangements
with us, so were able to take a shop tour at the 3' gauge
Huckleberry RR in
Village, Flint, MI. This unscheduled stop was a great hit with the group. It
is a rare privilege to see a K series narrow gauge engine all torn apart!
Later that day we went up to Fairview, MI to visit the impressive 16" gauge
Michigan AuSable Valley RR.
Howard and Joanne Schrader showed us a really nice time. (For a great look at
their railroad, get a copy of Big Little
Railways Continued). We also had a change to visit Bob Jenner's layout
next door and ride behind is beautiful 16" gauge shay.
The next day was VERY busy. We started out by visiting
Vierson Boiler Works in
Grand Rapids, MI, where we got to ride behind steam and a G-16. Immediately
we enjoyed another unscheduled stop at the standard gauge
Coopersville & Marne.
Members of the tour enjoyed the opportunity to climb all over their SW-9 diesel
and get a couple short cab rides. Then it was off to Benton Harbor and the
remains of the train at the
House of David.
Finally, we made our way down to Wakarusa, Indiana, where we got a private
showing of the now-closed 15" gauge Old
Wakarusa. Joanne Schrock was kind enough to have Mr. Kim
Stickel, Mr. Tim Bainter, and others come down to run both the steamer and the
diesel for us.
The following morning saw the railroading commence at the 14" gauge line at
the Hesston Steam
Museum. The crew there sacrificed their precious vacation days for us, and
we really appreciated it. Then we had a nice long visit . . . and a fantastic
barbeque lunch at Ken Coate's 12" gauge
Paradise RR. This is a railroad that has to be seen to be
believe (So to believe it . . . you should get a copy of
Big Little Railways Continued).
The next day found us in Illinois. We started the morning out at the 15"
gauge Waterman & Western, where
Pete Robinson (no relation to your editor) gave EVERY SINGLE member of the tour
a chance to run the diesel and train around the layout. But soon it was time to
get back on the Motor Coach and head up to the
Illinois Railway Museum. Even a full day wouldn't be enough time to
appreciate all the equipment they have there, but our whirlwind visit gave
everyone a sense of their collection. The day was capped off at Doc Hoffmann's
15" gauge Spring-Hill & Northern,
where everyone had a great visit with the host and enjoyed riding behind his
G-16 (G-15) and big 74-4-4 Jubilee.
Bright and early Thursday morning we were at
Hank Balinski's fabulous
3" scale 14 1/8" gauge railroad. The craftsmanship that he and his son put into
their equipment is absolutely incredible. Here too a number of our guests had
the chance to run his fabulous steamer. Then it was over to see
Don Woelbing's private
16" gauge empire, the station he built is a real gem, and seeing the historic
cabin (completely furnished with 18th century antiques) was a real treat.
Lunch that day was at the Milwaukee
Zoo. The crew, led by Ken Ristow, was absolutely fantastic. They fired up
both steamers for us and set up a doubleheader photo shoot. It was magnificent.
The last stop of the day was the Riverside &
Great Northern. These guys too put on a great show for us. The 4-4-0 was in
perfect running order, and we got to enjoy a trip out behind it, and a night run
to the end of the line behind the diesel. Thanks to Tom and the whole crew for
The Tour group showed up at 8am Friday morning at
Little A-Merrick-A. The
convention didn't officially start until 9:00. This allowed a special private
showing of the Whiskey River shops, including the balance of the McAllister
equipment which was stored in a building off limits to the convention at large.
It went better than we even dared hope. There were
about 200 people in attendance from all over the U.S. (CA, NY, FL, AL, OR, WA,
AZ, IN, IL, MI, WI, MO, PA, etc.) There were also attendees from Canada and the
world famous Simon Townsend joined us from England. You can see Jim O'Conner's
about the convention on his very popular
"Discover Live Steam" web site.
There were lectures going on constantly both days. These were very well
attended, and we were told by countless people that they learned a great deal.
Here we see Andy Jugle addressing the group with a fantastic lecture, slide
show, and memorabilia collection of MTC history.
There were also shop tours of the 16" gauge Whiskey
River Railway at Little A-Merrick-A. Everyone enjoyed seeing where Darrell
Klompmaker does his magic. The 14 1/8" McAllister 2-8-8-2 was in the shop
waiting to be regauged to 16".
One of the most popular features of the convention was the Rent-An-Engine
program. On Saturday every single time slot for the big Pacific steamer was
filled. The diesel was busy too, and the other steamers also had engineers who
wanted to take them for a spin.
the best thing about the convention, though, was the fellowship. There were tall
tales and baloney flying everywhere. We are still hearing back from attendees
who say they made some great friendships. Many felt that for the first time they
were in a huge group "of their own". Everywhere you walked during the convention
you would see a group of fellows over here talking about track laying, or a
huddle of guys over there showing photos of unfinished engines, or a few people
who had heard of one another but never met. And they were exchanging addresses
to keep in touch. It was great.
The BAD NEWS: It's
over and not everyone got to come.
The GOOD NEWS:
We're throwing another party next year! Join us in England for
GSQ TOUR 2002 as we visit the best Grand
Scale Railroads in the UK.