With both steam and diesel locomotives, children and adults of all ages have been able to experience the culmination of one man's railroad train dream.
The Au Sable Valley Railroad's engine and cars wound their way through the Comins Creek gorge as if the train would always be there.
Suddenly, in 2017, Michigan Au Sable Valley Railroad's rolling trains came to a halt when it was found the Au Sable Valley's awesome trestle had been compromised by a wood munching bug. The reconstruction of the cross-beamed railroad trestle from high-strength steel is now the next stage for bringing the trains back on line. Relegated that task is new owners and operators Bill and Mary Beth Costello, former residents of Dallas Texas, now permanently at home on the railroad grounds at 230 S. Abbe Road, Fairview, Michigan.
Mr. Costello has a long history as a railroad enthusiast. It all started as a kid when he learned from some of the best small gauge train operators engineering the train at Brackinridge Park in San Antonio, Texas. It has been a long journey up and down miles and miles of track to Fairview, but the indomitable task of bringing our scenic railroad back to life is now forefront in his mind.
“The process to redesign the trestles, and obtain approval of the redesign from the state of Michigan, has taken much longer than anticipated. The design was finished at the end of March and approval from the state was obtained at the end of April, 2018. We need to find about $50K to buy materials and complete the work.” Mr. Costello said in a recent conversation.
“We are going to have to replace to top half of both trestles.” He said, “ We are replacing the wood beams with steel that will last 100 years or more and will be free from insect attack. We are also adding a walkway for an escape route should the train ever experience a problem while on the trestles. We will also add full guard rails in case a wheel jumps the main rails. This is a safety feature found on all modern large railroads. This will bring the trestles up to current amusement ride standards. Since we want to change the original design, the state required us to have the new plans drawn up and certified by a professional engineer from their approved list. We felt the time and cost was worth it for the safety of our passengers and ourselves. I should note that this in no way should be taken as a criticism of the original trestle design that Howard Schrader paid another professional engineer to design 20+ years ago. Now that we know the type of wood needed to hold the weight of the train is subject to decay and attack by insects, we will move to steel beams just like the big railroads have. As we all know, standards change and evolve over time and lessons are learned as structures experience wear and tear. We are looking to the future with this project so this railroad keeps running for generations to come.”
We are fortunate the Costello's remain focused and resolute in their efforts to commandeer those needed resources that will bring the scenic railroad's train whistles back to battery in 2020. Let's encourage them with all of our combined good cheer and good will. There is no denying we miss the sound.
A Boy And His Dream was written as an acknowledgement of the hard work and determination it took to realize Howard Schrader's scenic railroad dream.
Now it represents the ongoing work and dedication of the railroad's new owners to bring the scenic railroad line back to battery in 2020. It is the revitalization of A Boy And His Dream.
A Boy And His Dream is a custom book built specifically for the tasks of creating children's entertainment as well as small business marketing magic for the railroad's future.