Local function, tourism entrepreneur shopping for Midland Railroad, strategies return of tourist trains | Information, Sports, Jobs



In this file image from Sept. 13, 2008, riders peek out the window of a Midland Railway educate in Baldwin City.


A vacationer and occasion entrepreneur recognized for a Lawrence holiday getaway pop-up cafe is in the procedure of getting Midland Railway with the intention of resuming the after-well-liked vacationer tour rides on the Baldwin Metropolis line.

Ryan Robinson declared Saturday on social media he was obtaining the practically 12-mile line that connects Baldwin Metropolis and Ottawa. In an job interview Sunday with the Journal-World, Robinson said the sale was below deal but had not but shut.

“I’m probably talking much too early, but we require to develop local community recognition if we’re heading be open up for Christmas,” he reported. “I required men and women to know the tourist prepare was coming back and that we have neat things planned.”

Identified in Lawrence for the Snow Globe pop-up getaway bar and cafe and his previously Colour Run and Ironman competitions, Robinson said a mate first proposed he get the Baldwin Metropolis railroad that is beset with authorized difficulties.

“It took me a minute to get my head around if it would be a great suit for me,” he explained. “I never come from the railroad industry, but I do know the occasion and tourism industries.”

Midland has not available vacationer rides since the start off of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. That also was when Midland and its for-profit subsidiary, the Baldwin Metropolis & Southern Railroad, was locked out of the aged Santa Fe depot in Baldwin City by the Santa Fe Path Historical Affiliation for not earning lease payments. That go well with was the initially of quite a few that plagued the railroad the last two many years less than the management of former CEO A.J. Stevens. The suit stays lively in Douglas County District Courtroom. Other lawsuits of take note contain Baldwin City’s still-active accommodate submitted in November 2020 in Douglas County District Court docket, in search of to recuperate $321,000 loaned to the railroad by means of a Kansas Section of Commerce software, which the town administrated, and a fit filed by Rail Functions Inc. of Durango, Colorado, in search of unpaid shares owed on ticket gross sales to the Polar Specific rides Midland made available in the course of the 2018 and 2019 vacation seasons. In a $404,506 settlement settlement authorised in September 2021 in La Plata County District Courtroom in Colorado, Midland agreed to make regular payments to retire the personal debt. The settlement also calls for Midland to pay back Rail Occasions $54,000 for authorized expenses.

Robinson explained he and Midland were being functioning on an obtain settlement that ensures all Midland lawful obligations are retired. It is his objective to shut on the sale and get other particulars done so that the tourist trains can get started running in October in time for Baldwin City’s annual Maple Leaf Festival and the Halloween year.

In a improve from the earlier, Robinson said he plans to use the 50 acres of land Midland owns at Norwood, about 5 miles south of Baldwin Metropolis, to enhance the excursion journey experience.

“We’re imagining about placing a pumpkin patch in that households could pay a visit to all through Halloween rides,” he claimed. “I have to say, I very own the most Christmas decorations in the state of Kansas. I consider I have ample to put up a fairly great display there for the duration of the vacations.”

Under Stevens, Midland obtained a federal permit to haul freight. Despite the fact that it never carried genuine freight, the railroad did use the allow to park hundreds of unused coal automobiles on the tracks from just south of Baldwin Town to earlier Norwood. Robinson stated he planned to go on that procedure but in a way the tourist trains can operate from Baldwin Metropolis to Norwood.

“The concentrate of the coal cars will be in the south towards Ottawa,” he claimed, “The north stop towards Baldwin City will be for the tourism railroad.”

Robinson designs to meet with Bruce Eveland this week to go over restarting rides on the Kansas Belle Dinner Coach. Eveland has supplied rides showcasing meals and enjoyment considering that 2013 on the Midland line underneath an arrangement that will make use of Midland’s locomotives. Nonetheless, the Kansas Belle has been idle because the March 2020 conclude of vacationer rides.

“I’m conference Bruce for espresso this week,” Robinson explained. “If they want to start out the supper train again, I’m open to that. I’m planning to provide again all the old companions, and we’re committed to working in a very distinctive fashion than what was finished in the past couple of many years. We’re open to anything that may perhaps appear up. The reaction from the neighborhood has been too much to handle.”

The sale will mark the stop of the Midland Historic Railroad Association’s relationship with the tracks. Midland started out giving rides just after getting a 1983 grant to rebuild tracks on the previous Santa Fe tracts south of Baldwin Town. Midland operated as an all-volunteer organization until eventually Stevens was hired as its initially CEO in 2018. He later designed the for-income subsidiary with the intention of expanding the number of workforce.

Robinson stated aged Midland fingers Allen Kinsley, who served as a Midland board officer in its all-volunteer times, and Mary Shaver will return to get the job done with the new procedure.

Stevens resigned from his situation with the for-earnings Baldwin Town & Southern (also known as the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad) in February after the Midland Board of Administrators filed match in Douglas County District Court docket, in search of his removal.

Baldwin Metropolis Mayor Casey Simoneau stated he was delighted the pending Midland sale will let the metropolis to recover the Kansas Division of Commerce mortgage as well as the city’s legal service fees in the litigation. Moreover, he was enthusiastic the railroad was offered to a area fascination intent on resuming the tourist trains, and not a enterprise that would use the tracks only to park coal autos or other freight functions.

“This is great information for Baldwin City,” he said. “Ryan is really very well know for his tourism and occasion preparing. I appear forward to partnering with the railroad and to Baldwin Metropolis as soon as once more welcoming countless numbers of travellers just about every yr with the return of the excursion trains.”

Robinson mentioned he didn’t imagine he was the only probable Midland buyer.

“I cannot discuss for the Midland board, but I believe their final decision experienced to do with I’m local,” he said. “I glimpse at this as the past job I’ll ever have. I’m committed to tourism and building the railroad have a authentic financial influence on Baldwin Town all yr around.”