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From the Caboose – Conductor’s view
by Charles Bartel, Spring 2020

It’s 2020 and the new year is off with a bang. Every year brings changes to ones life. We look forward to the opportunities that are open to us. This year will have special opportunities for me as I become the President of the Big Train Operator Club. Thank you for the honor of being president of the BTOC.

I have titled this “From the Caboose” because I believe the President is like the conductor of an old freight train. (Miss that little red caboose on the end of the train!) Other board members that you have elected run the train in various position equivalent to the train crew, i.e., engineer and fireman, brakeman, etc. From the caboose, the conductor is not running the train but is working to keep the train on schedule, keeping the paperwork in order, and spending time looking forward from the cupola to make sure there are no issues with the cars on the train. He is also in a position to look back to where the train has been which allows him to make comparisons of the past to the future. And that is what I hope to do in my term of office.

In this issue, you will find information on the summer convention in St. Louis. Marshall Adams and his convention committee are tying down the bits and pieces of the convention. I urge you to look over this issue and the convention data. If you have not done so and are planning on coming to the convention, please send in your registration forms and make your hotel reservations. The sooner that we know how many are coming, the better that the committee can plan the various events and make sure that we have reserved spaces for everyone interested in attending.

If you are wondering why to go to this convention versus other train events, I can only stress that you will be coming together in a “family reunion”. I say family reunion because we are family. We are enthusiastic about trains and the G scale models of these trains. Some have operating layouts indoors, some outdoors. Some are collectors and love special models that we are proud to display in our homes. We love to share stories about our trains, train rides, train vacations and our families. This common interest is what makes us a “family.” We are spread all over the country, and for that matter all over the world. Some we can see at other events, or even stop in and visit when traveling. But for the majority of us, we only get to see each other once a year and spend the whole week catching up on the past year’s events, sharing train stories while making new memories during the convention.

This year, we are looking to visiting the National Museum of Transportation with a BBQ lunch, Union Station with lunch, Trolley Tour of downtown St. Louis, Grant’s Farm with a picnic lunch, Terminal Railroad Rail Yard Tour, and a ‘Mighty Mississippi River’ Boat Ride with light snacks. I love museums and looking at things from our past, visiting rail yards and seeing the activity that it takes to keep the trains running. I have read of river boats all my life with Mark Twain one of my boyhood heroes. I look forward to this opportunity to ride a working river boat on the mighty Mississippi. And of course, we have the banquet on the last day, trivia contest each night, and the opportunity to “shop.”

I look forward to meeting as many of you that can make it to the convention. I am interested in your thoughts as to what you would like to see the club do. Where would you like to see future conventions? Marshall is always interested in new locations of member interest. Please share your comments with me at

Happy New Year. May it be filled with trains, fellowship and lots of fun!

Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood... - Walt Disney


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