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Bassler Political Campaign Train

Railway to Heaven, Highway to Hell (The Scotty Baesler Victory Express
1998)  B y Chris Dees Dyersburg Tennessee

On September 25, 26, and 27, 1998, Kentucky saw its first statewide
campaign train in a long while… almost 50 years to the day that Harry
Truman wheeled through Ashland, Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, and
Henderson, U.S. Congressman Scotty Baesler decided to "take it to the
people" on his Baesler Victory Express '98. The route was
Lexington-Elizabethtown via CSX, P&L, and RJ Corman. After being
notified of the upcoming trip, I sent in
my tax deductible contribution to the Democratic party to reserve my
seat on the Sunday trip. This trip was truly Heaven by rail… and the bus
trip from Hell.

Saturday, September 25, brought my road trip from my home in Dyersburg,
Tennessee, to Madisonville, Kentucky. After catching a couple of
northbound IC freights between Dyersburg and Fulton, it was off for a
short visit to mom and dad's place in Calvert City. Leaving with about
10 minutes to spare, I caught the Victory Express at Calvert City and
took some photographs. Then it was off to Madisonville.

Sunday, September 26, brought the day I had been waiting for. This was
my first long-distance train trip in Kentucky since the NKP 765 trip in
1992 - appropriately enough, the train between Madisonville and Guthrie
was CSX train P-567 (765 in reverse). Parked in Madisonville's Atkinson
Yard, the train consist was as follows: CSX SD 40-2 #8453, RJ Corman
FP7A #1941, RJ Corman FP7A #1940, PAL Generator Car #10, PAL Office Car
Bluegrass State II, PAL Office Car Bluegrass State I, RJ Corman/My Old
Kentucky Dinner Train Diner #011, RJ Corman/My Old Kentucky Dinner Train
Diner #777, RJ Corman/My Old Kentucky Dinner Train Kitchen Car #021, RJ
Corman/My Old Kentucky Dinner Train Diner #007, Kentucky Railway Museum
(former Louisville & Nashville) Observation Car Kentucky.

Aboard today was the foamer crew consisting of NRHS Madisonville members
and mileage collectors. Taking up two tables on car #777 (talk about
being lucky) were Carol and Thom Sulanke from Bloomington, Indiana;
Wally Watts and Don Clayton from Madisonville, Kentucky; Mike and Becki
Kiepp from Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Landon Hogue from Hopkinsville,
Kentucky; and myself.

Our route for Sunday consisted of 182 miles: CSX Atkinson Yard to
Morton's Gap via Cutoff, CSX Morton's Gap to Guthrie, RJ Corman Memphis
Line west in order to back into CSX Guthrie yard, RJ Corman Memphis Line
east from Guthrie to Memphis Junction, and CSX Memphis Junction to
Elizabethtown. Stopping at the Hopkinsville, Russellville, and Bowling
Green stations brought political speeches and a small sense of pride in
being able to be a true part of history.

We met at least three trains on the trip: Q122 at Kelly at 11:45AM, Q275
at Gossum at 5:15PM, and another Q-train just south of Elizabethtown.
The Baesler Victory Express '98 was symbolled P-567 while on the
Madisonville-Guthrie portion, P-965 on the Bowling Green-Elizabethtown
portion. For the entire route, the speeds and track were very smooth,
even on RJ Corman. Speeds on CSX track got up to 60MPH on some sections,
35MPH on RJ Corman.

Between Hopkinsville and Guthrie, we enjoyed the favorite part of any
trip - lunch. The menu consisted of a fresh tossed salad with
honey-mustard dressing, chicken cordon bleu, wild rice pilaf, glazed
baby carrots, rolls & butter, turtle or strawberry cheesecake, and a
wide variety of beverages.

The trip over RJ Corman was very smooth and the trackage a lot better
than anyone expected. After stopping at the Bowling Green depot (which
is currently being restored), it was time to crank it up and head north.
Ten-year old Landon and myself decided to be the official vestibule
riders for the trip between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown, hanging out
the with scanners turned up loud and 35mm cameras clicking away on every

After spotting a couple of Tennessee Central Railway Museum cars at
Elizabethtown, we became our journey home via the Highway to Hell. One
thing I should warn everyone regarding excursions - be aware of the
words "Box Lunch Provided" and "Motorcoach Return Trip" in the trip
flyer or brochure. Boarding the bus at Elizabethtown, we discovered that
both buses would have to go to Bowling Green in order to drop off
passengers from the Bowling Green-Elizabethtown section.

After our set-out at Bowling Green, we proceeded west toward
Russellville. At Russellville came that wrong turn onto The Highway To
Hell. Imagine being on the bus on some backwoods Kentucky highway in
Logan and Todd County with a bus driver from Louisville. Landon
expressed his disgust by tossing his cookies due to all the rocking and
rolling from being on a winding, curvy road - sure hope he doesn't
forget the good times hanging out the vestibule (goes to show you that
the only way to go is Amtrak - leave the driving and the bus to someone
else!!!). After stopping in the middle of nowhere to get directions from
a guy in a gun rack-equipped 4x4, we finally made it to Hopkinsville
to drop off passengers. Don, a native of Madisonville, then "took charge"
by giving directions to Madisonville, with the bus finally arriving there
at 11PM.

While I'm not a registered voter in Kentucky, I would like to say many
thanks to U.S. Congressman Scotty Baesler for making this trip possible
through my birth state. He definitely knows how to campaign!

Chris Dees
Newbern, TN
Watching at MP 303.7 on The Mainline of Mid-America

Baesler Special  Report part two

I rode the Baesler special on Sat a.m. from Henderson to Madisonville, and
>all day on Sun. I took several photos -  most of the pix are from Bowling Green and
>Elizabethtown (it was getting dark by then!), but I will include others
>taken along the way also.
>From Bowling Green to Elizabethtown
>Very good track conditions (welded rail, concrete ties) most of the way -
>only two slow order (30 mph) areas. The train was authorized for maximum
>speed (79 mph). It accelerated smoothly and quickly out of Bowling Green by the
>time it was 5 mi out it was running at approx 60 mph.
>mp 102.3 - 58 mph
>mp 81 (Horse Cave) - 54 mph
>mp 69.2 - no speed given; estimated speed 55-60 mph
>mp 61.5 - 35 mph
>mp 44 - 55 mph
>The train ran pretty much according to plan - only about 45 min late
>getting to Elizabethtown,. A very complicated turning movement was required at
>Guthrie. Also, R.J. Corman boarded there.
>Carol Sulanke

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