Steam along the river
As I was playing golf this morning, I was serenaded with the sound of steam whistles in the distance. Those melodic sounds are continuing this afternoon and through Sunday here in Rock Island. Unfortunately they are not emanating from the river, but rather from the tracks along the river - we are hosting Train Festival 2011. There are 7 steam locomotives and several vintage diesels here, along with countless coach cars and restored parlour cars. This afternoon I came face to face with an Iowa Interstate Chinese loco whistling her arrival from a 2 hour trip to Walcott and back. There were at least 6 big coach cars and 4 parlour cars, all filled with train enthusiasts on board. While it's a joy to see our railroad heritage and hear those whistles, it also strikes a sad chord in me in that we steamboaters haven't been able to preserve our vessels as the railroad folk have. There are several on this board who are both train and boat enthusiasts. I ask you, Why have the railfans been able to save and promote, while the boat fans are less successful? I'd throw out a couple of ideas: 1) there are far more railroad fans than steamboat fans 2) the cost of saving a steamboat is more prohibitive than that of a locomotive 3) trains are able to be run and make some income whereas running a large steamboat like what we've recently lost: PRESIDENT, ADMIRAL, MQ, etc. is beyond a volunteer group's means. Am I on the right track, so to speak? Incidentally, the river is involved this weekend too. The CELEBRATION BELLE is running trips from the RI levee, right where the AVALON and DQ docked. Sunday she is doing a combo: ride the CB to Muscatine and return via train, or vice versa. Several of us are making that trip. And for Bob, Keith, Jim, Dave, Lexie and other DQers of the 70s: Bob Beck, who practically lived in the DQ engine room with his father and brother back in the late 70s on their trips, is coming over here for the festival, so there will be some old DQ memories dredged up too.