Nearly 400 guests boarded maroon and gold passenger cars from a bygone era July 21-23 as part of TC&W's 25th birthday celebration. President Mark Wegner said the excursions were his company's way of saying "thank you" to the elected officials, customers and employees who have helped make TC&W the largest and most successful short line railroad in Minnesota. The round-trip journeys took delighted passengers from Chanhassen to Cologne or Sacred Heart to Montevideo and back, enjoying box lunches, beautiful scenery and a little history lesson along the way.
Press coverage of the events in local newspapers highlighted the importance of TC&W to the businesses it serves. In a Chanhassen Villager story by Unsie Zuege, Lyman Lumber's branch manager John Zirbes told the reporter, "The TC&W is very important to our business. Most of our lumber comes from British Columbia and the western United States. To carry (lumber) that far, you can't truck it, it's too expensive. So we need a healthy railroad to bring us lumber, structural panels, gypsum; it all comes in on rail." Zaire said the company gets hundreds of rail cars every year, "delivered right in the middle of our yard."
In a Hutchinson Leader story, reporter Terry Davis interviewed Brad Kohls, grain manager for South Central Grain and Energy. He said that the connections TC&W provides to four of the nation's Class I rail carriers are vital to his company, which has facilities in Stewart, Buffalo Lake, and Hector, as well as in two other communities served by Minnesota Prairie Line, also operated by TC&W.
"The service is fantastic. It's huge to our producers. They get the benefit of experts in moving grain. TC&W has done a fantastic job," he said. His boss, David Peters agreed, saying, "There is really no way we could get along without the railroad."
Similar views were expressed in the story by Jeff Nielsen, CEO of Winthrop-based United Farmers Cooperative, which operates a grain shuttle facility outside Brownton. According to the story, the co-op is building a major fertilizer distribution plant there as well.
"It opens up a lot more markets for our members to ship all over the world," Nielsen said.
Wegner said the success of the 25th birthday celebration is a reflection of how much TC&W's customers value its service. "We have helped each other grow over the years," he said. "That's exactly what we hoped for when TC&W began operations in 1991."