Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway Special rolled through Havre Friday to pick up 325 passengers, including Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line members, who enjoyed a two and a half hour adventure on the tracks. The train swayed gently most of the way, but there were some fun bumps and a few stops along the way to let other trains pass by. Passing by the neighboring towns to the east was an adventure for kids and adults who participated in the Boys and Girls Club adventure that revived the romantic era of railroading. The 11th annual trip was designed to say thank you to employees as well as community members who have contributed to BNSF's succes, according to a spokesperson. In addition to a free train ride for kids, the BNSF also donated $10,000 to the club to further youth activities. The club was also the winning recipient of a new bus to transport members to and from activities. As the club celebrated the achievement of being recognized as a Centennial Partner in Orlando Florida last week, where they became eligible for a 17-passenger minibus drawing at the Centennial Conference. "The opportunity to the the BNSF foundation provided has allowed us to be able to fulfill a promise we have made to the community to make our program accessible to all youth. We used this opportunity to raise funds for transportation and now, winning the bus, coupled with the transportation fund, we will be able to provide rides to the club during the summer months," Krista Solomon of the Boys and Girls Club said. I am very grateful for our generous corporate sponsors!” Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman, said "Each year, we select a specific geographic location and key operations in that area are recognized as having exceptional employees, as well as Boys and Girls clubs. Everyone seems to have a railroad connection - whether its a train they have ridden on before or a family member who have worked on a train. Over the years, I've seen everything from 3 week old children to elderly that were celebrating their 70th Anniversary with a train ride. But for many, this was their first ride and the joy that it brought was evident." This special event featured a particularly fun outing for the Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line whose members packed the passenger trains with fun and laughter. "The train ride was really fun. The Boys and Girls Club is cool," Michael Duval, a young Boys and Girls Club members said. Michael is the son of Jim Duval a 26-yearold veteran of BNSF. "He was always asking me to go on a train ride to visit his uncle in Fargo, North Dakota, so he was very glad to take this trip," Jim said. "He has wanted to work on the BNSF as a conductor since he was 3 years old. This is a good experience for him and all the kids. It's a different mode of transportation and there's actually jobs out there for it." One grandmother, Teri Brix seemed to enjoy the experience as she sat with her grandson Connor Harris and talked about her husband Bob Brix. Bob is a disabled railroad worker who worked for BNSF for 30 years. "Connor wanted his grandfather to ride with him, but I haven't been on a train since his mother was a freshman in high school and I wanted to take the ride. The kids have never been on a train before, so it was a fun experience." "It was wonderful a great experience for the kids," Jill Reber, a parent who rode along with her children, said. "The activities were perfect to keep the kids entertained." Passengers were kept satisfied with their train ride with snacks, drinks, making a BNSF conductor hat and coloring in an BNSF coloring and activity book in their travel outside the city limits of Havre. BNSF operates in 28 states and two Canadian provinces. The 2007 Special Railway was made up of 13 1950s era passenger cars along with two modern 4400 horsepower GE Diesel locomotives. It was the 11th annual speical railway event for BNSF.