Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Blueberry Train

The Blueberry

When I was in grade school, the neighbor girl and I used to get off the school bus in the afternoon, then ride our bikes as fast as we could to the RR bridge, so we wouldn't miss the Blueberry Train. We'd throw our bikes into the ditch, then climb out onto the deck extensions and sit there with our legs dangling over the railroad tracks, waiting to catch a glimpse of the conductor and wave at the guy hanging off the end of the caboose. (Our mothers would have killed us if they had known!)

That was not in 1894. But it was in probably 1957.  I wish I had a picture of the arched bridge to show you too, but after the train stopped running, the bridge was taken out and even the tracks were removed. The old rail bed is now an ATV trail.

I never got to ride on the Blueberry, but I know my grandma did, probably many times. The original was a coal-fired steam-powered train, but a man who made a YouTube video about the Blueberry wrote and told me, 

"The Soo Line Railroad used to run several different locomotives on that line.  If it was a 1957-era locomotive, it was a diesel.  There are a very few Soo Line diesel locomotives preserved.  None are of the type you may have seen."

Hmmm. Even so, the Blueberry Train is one of my fondest childhood memories, so it was such a delight when my friend showed up with a birthday gift for me, this lovely framed picture of the train. Thank you, Deb!



In operation from 1894-1962, The Blueberry Line is now the subject of a paperback book by an author from Barron.


"The railway was dubbed the Blueberry Line because of the abundant blueberry bushes that grew along the tracks. After extensive logging operations in northern Wisconsin, blueberries thrived on the land. 

Legend has it that trains on the Blueberry Line would stop so passengers could pick blueberries en route. Colby suspects one train would drop passengers off and another would pick them up.


The Railway, which was purchased by the Soo Line Railroad, spanned from Ridgeland, Dallas, Hillsdale, Barron and Cameron to Rice Lake, Campia, Mikana, Birchwood, Edgewater and Reserve.


It was projected to extend north to Lake Superior and south to Menomonie but was never completed to those destinations.


Over time the lines were abandoned-the branch line from Birchwood to Reserve in 1931, from Rice Lake to Birchwood in 1936, and from Ridgeland to Barron in 1962."





 The Blueberry Train,
Hanging on my Kitchen Wall
(along with my chalk board and dog plaque)


Have you ever been on a steam-powered train? If so, where? when?   

And has my memory of the Blueberry been distorted by the TV show 'Petticoat Junction'??

 


***

 
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28 comments:

Tracey Steele@Breathing English Air said...

Your mothers would have killed you...my heart was in my mouth when I read about your legs dangling over the tracks! Lovely picture though, and happy memories.

Pamela Gordon said...

I was shocked when you said you sat precariously over the railroad tracks like that. I'm so afraid of heights that I would never have done it. Good think your mother didn't catch you! What a great story though and how sweet of your friend to find you a photo of the blueberry train. I used to go by train to my aunt and uncle's in the late 50's and early 60's. It was a 25 mile trip and always exciting. I'm sure the trains were diesel. However, there was an old 'tour' train in Hillsbourough, NB, that was pulled by a steam engine, and we took our kids on it in the 80's. It went over a very high trestle and I was terrified! lol It was a fun experience. Great memories for you and me. :)

Jenn S said...

I love that story!! And what a great gift indeed!!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Neat story! xo

Fairhope Supply Co. said...

What a great memory and what a wonderful and thoughtful gift from your friend!

You had a much better time in the afternoons than if you had been sitting inside playing video games!

Fairhope Supply Co. said...

What a great memory and what a wonderful and thoughtful gift from your friend!

You had a much better time in the afternoons than if you had been sitting inside playing video games!

Bossy Betty said...

What a wonderful story and the thoughtful gift will bring back those sweet memories.

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

What a wonderful gift and a great story. It brought back some wonderful memories of when I was young. There was an old train like that that ran through my little town a few times a day. There was a huge trestle over the river about a mile away where we kids would go and climb on it. I was terrified but I did it because the other kids did. It's a wonder someone didn't fall from there. It's all gone now. I wish I had a picture of that old trestle.
Thanks for the memories!

Susie said...

I love that you got that great picture of a train from your childhood memories. What a wonderful story. Scary yes. But it was different when we were kids. I love trains, a lot. xoxo,Susie

TexWisGirl said...

what a neat gift from a friend! very cool memories, too.

Ruth Kelly said...

We have a steam engine that runs from Heber City, Utah to Provo Canyon. It is mainly a tourist attraction but we rode it once when my kids were little.

Noelle the dreamer said...

Well Judy, this brought back lots of memories to ex-RAF hubby and I! That's all he ever knew growing up in the Midlands or traveling from base to base (unless he flew). For my part I remember those on the Continent!
Hanging over the bridge with our legs though was my doing...but it was the canal by my house and waving to the barges!
Love the dog sign!
Lovely reading this post!

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Judy what a lovely memory. Yes I have be on quite a few steam trains over time and love them. There are still some running in Northern Ireland on special days.

Karen said...

I loved hearing about this. When I was engaged in 1972 my fiance and I rode on an old fashioned train from Atlanta up to the foothills of North Georgia to see the autumn leaves. It was beautiful.

Empty Nester said...

I've been on a steam powered train. At Tweetsie Railroad. I wrote a blog post about it a long while back. It was NOT wonderful as your lovely Blueberry special. Indians boarded that thing and there were cowboys with guns. I FREAKED out! And I have never boarded a train since. I was five. LOL What a wonderful gift from a wonderful friend.

Judy S. said...

Great story, Judy. So glad you survived to tell it!

NanaDiana said...

What a wonderful story, Judy. I have never heard of this train. I love that one train might have dropped pickers off and another picked them up. I was in the Rice Lake area for the first time a couple of years ago- xo Diana

Vee said...

Loved this story of The Blueberry Train. My mother grew up in a railroad town as her father was an engineer for The Canadian Pacific Railroad. It is certainly true that lots of blueberries grow along railroad tracks. I have spent many a summer day picking them, but was never dropped off a train. Yes, I have seen a steam engine. One summer (late 1960s) my grandfather and family were all sitting on the front lawn in early October. Suddenly, he sat forward and said, "Listen! That's a steam engine coming! " Sure enough, a steam engine out of Portland was soon on its way past...a unique and lovely sound! We later learned that it was a plan to use the steam engine for foliage runs into the White Mountains. We never saw another. Fun post! So many memories! What a unique and meaningful gift!

Carla from the The River said...

Deb sounds like a very special friend. Great mischief you two must have been up too. I have a feeling more stories can be told. ;-)

Terri D. said...

Great memories and a very special photo. Thanks for sharing!!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sweet story! My sister would have been right there with you, and my mother's shrieks would have scared you girls straight! :D Would love to have ridden that train and been dropped off to pick wild blueberries.

Heather Wise said...

Petticoat Junction or not, I love it! We have the Strasburg Railroad nearby. It has a museum, but also a train that runs. It sometimes stops at the local corn maze. There are other railroads that have different trips, local ones, to see foliage or such. My mom and I want to go on a trip on one that serves lunch. Drinking coffee and looking at the beauty around us!

I can identify with the sitting on the bridge, when I was younger. Now, IF you got me up there, you would not be able to pry my death grip to the bridge to get me down. Yikes...

Love the picture!!!

Love and blessings!!!!
Heather

Mike Biles said...

That's a fab pic. I still remember rushing to get onto a bridge so that we'd be there when the steam loco went underneath, enveloping us in smoke. Don't know why that was fun - but it was - and I did it a few months' back when visiting a fully operation heritage railway; it was still fun! Great post, Judy.

Deborah said...

Great post my friend...so informative. And you are welcome on the photo, it was my pleasure to give it as I knew how much you would appreciate it. My grandma had such fond memories she used to share with me about being the youngest in her family and every Saturday her dad took her with him on the Blueberry Train. The train would take them to Rice Lake and they would buy supplies for the week. She also got on on picking blueberries along the way. :-)

Sandra said...

4 times on steam driven and many times on diesel

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

We have an old steam train that follows a river on the North Coast of Brittany. We travelled with it with two of friends. I organised that day as a way to say "thank you" after they both helped me and we had a lot of fun, making lots of memories.

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J_on_tour said...

I have to stop myself from taking over this page by the question you ask !!

As you know I'm a specialist diesel fan of one particular class that used to pull freight trains behind a local park playground as I was growing up. It was great however many years later to travel behind a steam train to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the line … none other than the last one built in its day … The Evening Star. The opportunity to travel past that very same play park that inspired my interest in trains.

I was interested in the demise of the railway. Strange how 1962 was the last date mentioned around about the time that Dr Beeching was in action in the UK.

Loving the poignant link … If all else fails hug the Dog !!

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