Yesterday, the City of Jasper hosted Media Day for the Spirit of Jasper train. Local and regional media, including groups from Spencer County, Terre Haute, and Evansville turned out for the big event. The event featured a short ride up the tracks aboard the train along with catered food from the Schnitzelbank and numerous photo opportunities.
The train, which is entering its fourth full season in service, will also have a new addition later this year: the Monon Car. Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz talks about the new addition and says it will be an exclusive car for the Spirit of Jasper:
The Jasper City Council approved a $65 price per ticket for the Monon car during its meeting earlier this week. The car is set to debut on the Spirit of Jasper in August and will be featured on this year’s Fall Foliage excursions, 8 in all, which is up from the first few years of the train.
The Monon Car comes as the newest addition to a train that is already steeped in history. The car was mainly used as a business car by the Monon. Alan Barnett, President of the Indiana Railway Museum in French Lick (which owns the trackage that the Spirit of Jasper runs on) talks about the car’s history and says the car’s main use was for the then president of the Monon Railroad, Leonard Brown:
Barnett says keeping history like the Monon Car alive is very important for the general public. He says private railroad cars were earlier times’ equivalent to modern day learjets for corporate executives and says the car provides an opportunity for people today to see what a private railroad car was like:
The trackage that the train runs on was originally part of the Southern Railroad, which was built into Jasper from Huntingburg in the 1880’s and was extended to French Lick in 1907 to connect with the Monon Railroad. The branch line measures 32 miles in total from Huntingburg to French Lick, but the only stretch used today is the 25 miles from Jasper to French Lick.