Scenic Train Ride Honors Veterans

By Ivory Hecker

June 12, 2011 Updated Jun 12, 2011 at 10:44 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - A train ride through the northland's countryside honored veterans and educated passengers on the history of the area. Some veterans who rode the train reminisced on their war days.

The oldest train track in the northland - Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad - got plenty of use Sunday. Scores of people showed up for the second annual Lake Superior Mississippi Railroad Veterans Appreciation Train Ride.

"This is the greatest scenic railroad there is," said Lynne Hall, the train's conductor. "We have got all the historic sights along the way."

The 12 mile round trip along the St. Louis River was free to veterans in honor of their service.

"Lake Superior Mississippi Railroad wanted to do something for our veterans as they did so much for us," said Karin Swor, a volunteer at the event.

One Korean War veteran who took the scenic trip alone said it was a form of transportation he hadn't experienced since his war days.

"It's a very scenic route for one thing," said Ray Flahery. "And I like riding on trains. I haven't been on a train since on a troop train in the '50s. So I figured it would be fun, and it turns out to be a beautiful day."

John Kanzler told tales of his experience in the South Pacific during World War II.

"I was in on the last seven islands we took back from the Japanese," said Kanzler. "I wanted to go home. I got tired of getting shot at ... I was 17 when I went in the Navy. Everybody else wanted to go to war, and so I did too."

Swor says today's train ride is simply a "thank you" to veterans.

"To me, I absolutely love the veterans," said Swor. "They were the first ones to volunteer and raise their right hand and say, 'Hey, I'll go take care of you.' So I want to take care of them."

Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad gives scenic tours along the St. Louis River every weekend. The Railroad has been running since 1863.

By Ivory Hecker