Our scenic railroad book, A Boy And His Dream, is the rhyming story of a boyhood dream come true. That dream resulted in the building and operating of the Michigan Au Sable Valley Railroad in Fairview, Michigan.
The railroad boasts both steam and diesel locomotives, touring cars and a caboose that children and adults of all ages have been able to experience for many years. It's engine and cars have wound their way every summer and fall through the Comins Creek gorge as if the train's whistle and clack would always be there.
But 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.
Our railroad book for children is in part a dedication to the inherent power of one individual's dream. It is written and illustrated as a rhyme for kids to experience as both entertaining as well as inspiring. Our book is a dream brought into existence like the Au Sable locomotive dream to climb Huckleberry Hill.
The new owners of the Au Sable Valley Railroad have a long history as railroad enthusiasts just like its original owner and creator, Howard Schrader. The railroad's reconstruction all started when Mr. Costello was a kid learning from some of the best small gauge train operators engineering the scenic tour train at Brackinridge Park in San Antonio, Texas. It has been a long journey for the Costello's up and down miles and miles of track to Fairview, Michigan, but the indomitable task of bringing our scenic railroad back to life is now forefront in their mind's.
“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 the future. Let's encourage them with all of our combined good cheer and good will. You can help by purchasing A Boy and His Dream. 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 the future.
A Boy And His Dream is not only an entertaining children's book, but also a custom book built specifically for the tasks of creating children's railroad entertainment and small business marketing magic for the railroad's future.