History Focus of Museum Program
Special to the C-T
The Grand River Historical Society and Museum held its quarterly dinner at the Elks Lodge Monday evening.
Following dinner, the program focused on railroad history in the Chillicothe area, as Chillicothe was a major railroad
hub in north central Missouri during the 20th century. Richard Samms, Danny Gramenz, Butch Olenhouse, Butch
Shaffer, and Everett Shipp comprised a panel of speakers who shared history and local stories.
Gramenz opened with railroad history. Samms, who had extensive experience working on three different lines, held
jobs from clerk to engineer. Olenhouse, along with friend Larry Vaughn, had ridden the abandoned rail lines
throughout the area before many of them were removed. His home-built motor scooter, affectionately referred to as
the "Whiz Bang Duflangus," had white-knuckle grab-handles without steering capabilities so maneuvering was
limited to the direction of the rails. Shaffer discussed modern needs for rail as well as a local hobby group that
meets Monday evenings in the basement of Triple H accounting. Shipp worked on bridge maintenance right out of
high school, sharing a boxcar as a home with three other members of his crew.
After the hour-long presentation, the floor was opened for questions and stories from the audience. Someone
remembered watching a train stop near Clay Street east of town and unload German war prisoners to let them get
some exercise. Tom Ashbrook and others are working on a Rails to Trails project. Ed Robertson recalled a circus
coming to town with elephants pulling materials from the trains to the circus area.
Railroad enthusiasts share memories and historical information about
Chillicothe's status as a major railroad hub in
north central Missouri during the 20th century. From left: Richard Samms, Danny Gramenz, Butch Olenhouse,
Butch Shaffer, and Everett Shipp. Photo by Kirsten Mouton