July 12 - 14, 2002 found me traveling the long way across Wisconsin, from Lake Geneva to Spooner. I was probably only one of two people who went to Spooner that weekend NOT to see the Rodeo. Although I must admit my motel was right by the rodeo grounds so I could hear horses whinnying all night long.
What drew me was the motive power, SOO Line 2719. on the Wisconsin Great Northern, an ambitious tourist railway with a tenouous connection (via the Canadian National) to the outside world. Where once the Chicago & Northwestern ran 20 trains a day through Spooner, The WGN manages to run almost that many a week between Spooner & Springbrook! There's a fine museum set up in the old Depot and a beautiful multi-stall roundhouse that, hopefully will someday become part of their operation. Check out their website for more details.
The dining car at the end of the train was very nice. I found myself thinking about buying a ticket for the evening's pizza train, but financial reality intervened. I set my camera on an adjacent table and amused the crowd getting this shot as we backed out of Spooner heading north. Like the IRM, this railroad could use a wye at each end of the line to turn the steam engine around.
Earler, when I paid for my ticket, I was pleasantly surprised when the nice girl behind the counter asked: "Would you like a cab ride?" Like, this is a rail nut's dream from childhood. And, the only spot left was on the way back as the engine was pulling the train in the right direction (oh darn). Anyway I paid and was rewarded with a hot, bumpy, grimey, smokey, dodge-the-red-hot-poker, ride from Trego back to Spooner behind the fireman. Behind the engineer rode the other guy who came to Spooner that weekend Not to see the rodeo (he was armed with a 16mm film camera and 3 minutes of film.)
Either I went on a good day, or the people associated with the Wisconsin Great Northern and Soo Line 2719 are just naturally courteous and friendly. Everyone, from the ticket seller, the guy pouring water in the tender, to the fireman and the engineer seemed to be having a good time.
Because it was Rodeo weekend, the train only went to Trego... where it was robbed by a bunch of horse ridin', gun totin' (and shootin') banditos. Upon return to Spooner, I went out on the highway to catch some pix of the next train in motion. That done, I headed to the other end of the line: Springbrook.
Where I found the Wisconsin Great Northern's main motive power...
Giving rides on an unscheduled basis to whoever came along!
Inside the rather nicely appointed caboose.
Heading North out of Springbrook.
I managed to get a cab ride in the F7 back to town (but only took video, no stills)