Mark Twain Zephyr Rebuild Tour and Book Signing
One of the most exciting and historic train renovation projects going on anywhere in the country is taking place right now at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego, Wisconsin. For the past ten months, their team of experienced carpenters, renovators, and craftspeople have garnered national attention transforming the Mark Twain Zephyr from a lifeless shell into what will be the only operable train of its kind – anywhere!
Between July 17 and July 22, the railroad’s Director of Passenger Development, Robert Tabern, will be visiting numerous communities along the original route of the Mark Twain Zephyr in western Illinois, eastern Iowa, and Missouri to give historical presentations about the train and to update residents on the progress of the restoration. Tabern, who is also the author of the three- volume book series, “Mark Twain Zephyr: History, Restoration & Re-birth”, will be selling and signing copies of his books at each of the stops. This ‘tour idea’ came from several residents in Hannibal and Quincy who wrote into the railroad over the spring, requesting a visit.
The Mark Twain Zephyr was one of the Burlington’s premier trains when it was put into service on October 25, 1935. Its sleek stainless-steel design was never seen before in railroading. The train served passengers mainly between Burlington, Iowa, and Saint Louis, Missouri, until 1958. For the next 60 years, the historic train set would pass between no less than seven different private owners; none of whom had the resources to complete the costly multi-million-dollar renovations needed.
The late Betty (Stephens) Vaughn who resided in LaGrange, was chosen as the first Becky Thatcher by Mark Twain’s granddaughter. Betty rode on the inaugural trip of the Mark Twain Zephyr
The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad stepped in last summer, purchasing the five train cars and bringing them to Northwest Wisconsin for repair. In the future, the Mark Twain Zephyr will be fully operable, giving passengers rides on the tourist railroad’s main line out of Trego.
Besides giving presentations and book signings, the Wisconsin Great Northern is interested in meeting and interviewing people who remember riding (or even perhaps working aboard) the Mark Twain Zephyr between 1935 and 1958. Preserving the memories of passengers and crew on video is an important part of this tour and preserving the legacy of the train. Those who have memories and would like to be interviewed, should e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, Tabern will be at the Canton Public Library, 403 Lewis Street, Canton, MO with an 11 am Presentation and a Book Signing to following.
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