This is a GREAT piece of news for our family, and possibly for yours if like us you LOVE TRAINS and travel in the midwestern United States. We’re getting closer to restored passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Kansas City!

This past Saturday afternoon, we had the pleasure of taking a driving trolley tour in Guthrie, Oklahoma, which is about 20 minutes north of where we live in Edmond. Our driver had recently taken the Heartland Flyer Amtrak train from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth and then on to San Antonio, and he gave us an update on a proposed extension of Amtrak train service.

Trolley Tour in Guthrie, Oklahoma

This past summer, our family took the Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth to visit Six Flags and loved it. Riding a train (as the person who normally does most of the driving in our family) was a WONDERFUL experience! We had more leg and chair room than you typically have in “coach class” on an airplane, there was the snack bar on the first level of our car, and we could do whatever we wanted: talk, listen, day dream, sleep, look out the window, read a book, listen to music, or watch a movie on an iPod. As a bonus, no one had to wear a seat belt!

Our driver in Guthrie Saturday told us that when he was in San Antonio, Amtrak folks he talked to said the Oklahoma City to Kansas City extension of the Heartland Flyer Amtrak run is “a done deal.” This hearsay is supported (although less definitively) by the December 4, 2008, Edmond Sun article “Edmond on list for Amtrak study” which reported:

Edmond is one step closer to being included in a proposed 606-mile passenger rail route from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City to Kansas City. The Kansas Department of Transportation and Amtrak have agreed on the scope of an Amtrak expansion feasibility study, officials said Thursday. Intermediate Oklahoma cities identified for the study are: Ponca City, Perry, Guthrie, Edmond, Oklahoma City, Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley, Davis and Ardmore. Amtrak officials said being in the study is not a commitment by the city or the states for the cities to host a station.

This is GREAT news! It would be particularly great if Amtrak would put in a station in Strong City, Kansas, just north of Cottonwood Falls.

Railroad in Strong City, Kansas

According to Gerald Kopiasz, that’s a possibility.

Proposed stops in Kansas include Lawrence, Topeka, and Newton as top contenders. Other new stations suggested include Emporia, Strong City, Wichita, and either Winfield or Arkansas City.

A Strong City Amtrak station would be about a half-hour from my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, where my parents live. It would be SO COOL (as well as relaxing) to be able to head “to grandmother’s house” for the holidays BY TRAIN in a year or so!

My fingers are crossed! Go Amtrak! Make the Oklahoma City to Kansas City passenger train connection! This is something I think I’ll write our state legislators about, since it will apparently be up to them after this feasibility study is completed in 2009.

I have 87 photos of trains and railroads in my current Flickr stream. I’d love to add even more as an Amtrak passenger in the years ahead! We are seriously looking into the possibility of taking Amtrak to NECC next summer in July in Washington DC. That would probably require us to catch the train in Kansas City, however, or in Newton, Kansas. I’m sure any train trips we take in the future will provide good opportunities for more reflections on “Railroads and virtual connections.” ๐Ÿ™‚

If and when this OKC to KC Amtrak line is active, I’m going to book a face-to-face field trip to see Eric Langhorst and his 8th grade US History class in Liberty, Missouri! My sister and family are moving to Kansas City next summer too, so this railway line could be a GREAT physical connector for our family and theirs! I also think this rail line could be of great potential benefit to the StoryChasers project. ๐Ÿ™‚

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