River and Rail Weekend returns this weekend and kicks off with a flashback to the 1940s.
Friday is “nostalgia night” at the Amtrak depot, starting at 5:30 pm
Chi Eastin, general manager of the Kingsley Inn said this is the second year for the event. She said she and “Amtrak Amy” (Amtrak ticket agent Amy Lambert) had been discussing something to get the event started.
The idea was to have an event where people could enjoy the sunset on the river and watch the train roll in.
“And it’s just kind of rolled into this where my son and I are going to dress up in 1940s outfits. I’m going to have the little white gloves, the suitcase and we’re going to wave at people,” she said. “I’m talking to the historic society and they are wanting to do something like that where we greet the trains some night and dress up in different eras and I’m just like 1940s is easy enough to wear.”
A DJ will be spinning 1940s and ’50s tunes, an Operation Lifesaver table will have drawings and activities for children. There will be a variety of food options and photo opportunities. The Southwest Chief #3 en route to Los Angeles will be greeted at 6:25 pm
“Last year when they came, the depot was not here. It was still down at the old station,” Eastin said. “So this is going to be the first time that Virtual RailFan owners are going to be here to see the depot live in action and we can catch people as they get off the train.”
Eastin said people are going to wave and greet the Southeast Chief as it comes into the depot and “show that Fort Madison is really a destination to come to and not just a pass-by, that when they come by on the Southwest Chief from Chicago all the way to LA, they might actually want to come back and stay for a couple days.”
Virtual RailFan owner Mike Cyr and other Virtual RailFan staff will be at Fort Madison all weekend.
People from all around the country will be visiting Fort Madison this weekend for the event, Eastin said, from Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey and beyond.
The Fort Madison train camera is a huge draw, Eastin said, because people can watch the river, see the bridge open, watch the marina being built, and, of course, see the many trains that pass through Fort Madison every day.
“There’s so much to see and do on our camera that we’re the number one camera that Virtual RailFans has around the country,” she said. “People just want to sit in their homes if they’re not able to go out and watch a beautiful riverfront and people watch and watch all the trains.”
Saturday morning at the riverfront pavilion, the Pen City Cruisers Car Parade will be seen on the virtual rail cam at 9 am At 10 am, BNSF Conductor Jeff Stathem will speak about working the K-Line.
The Pen City Cruisers car show will be from 10 am to 2 pm
Of course, there will be a food truck court set up from 9 am to 3 pm, along with a coffee and bake sale by the Daughters of the American Revolution in the pavilion.
Greet the Southwest Chief #4 en route to Chicago at 10:50 am
There will be hour-long river cruises at 11 am and 1 pm with Legacy Cruises.
The CB&Q Depot will be open from 10 am to 4 pm In Keokuk, the Keokuk Union Depot will be open for tours 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday at the riverfront pavilion, the American Melody Riverboat will be greeted at the dock at 8 am
The food truck court will continue to operate from 9 am to 3 pm, the CB&Q Depot will be open 10 am to 4 pm, a river cruise will be at 11 am, and the Southwest Chief #4 en route to LA will be greeted at 10:50 am
In Keokuk, depot tours will be 11 am to 3 pm, along with a talk by Neil Vogel at 3 pm about the depot’s restoration: ‘Keokuk’s Iron Survivor: The Last Turtle Back Train Shed in America.’