Bike Fun Report: August Poky Pedaling Potluck Picnic

Another splendid evening of Bike Fun was shared yesterday by 9 Poky Pedalers on our final Poky Pedaling Potluck Picnic for this season. Besides good company and a delicious picnic, we learned a bit about the role of railroads in Stevens Point’s past.

We started riding from Goerke Park at around 5:30 PM and took a route that first headed towards the Wisconsin River. We then rode the non-motorized path through Pfiffner Park and continued through the neighborhoods south of downtown before reaching our destination: the Locomotive 2713 display on Church St just north of the railroad bridge.

Upon arrival, I shared a bit of the history of Locomotive 2713, a steam engine locomotive used for over 44 years before taking its last trip in 1955. I also mentioned the non-profit Friends of 2713, whose efforts to maintain and improve the site have been instrumental in preserving the railroad history of Stevens Point.

We then settled in to enjoy food and conversation. We also explored the various on-site displays giving info about our local railroad history. Many took closer looks at Locomotive 2713 and the attached tender car and caboose, including climbing up into the cab and taking an engineer’s-eye view of the surroundings. The sensation of rolling down the rails was magnified by train sounds – complete with realistic chug-chugs and whistle blows – controlled by a coin box next to the locomotive.

After our picnic, our trip back to Goerke Park included a bit more railroad history. We paused at the end of Monroe St to view the roundhouse and paint-shop building. The original roundhouse was built in 1872. Although there have been expansions and improvements, 6 of the original 10 stalls are still in use today. The paint-shop building was completed in 1882, and is still used today for repairing train cars. A representative of the State Historical Society stated in a presentation two years ago that this is the oldest operating railroad yard in Wisconsin.

We then headed north a block and stopped to look at the brick building constructed in 1892 as Central City Iron Works. This company supplied many castings for the Wisconsin Central Railroad of that era. An image of an 1892 photograph was passed around that showed the newly built Central City Iron Works building with the rail yard in the background. Long time residents of the area are more familiar with this building as the Altenburg Dairy, a favorite ice cream place from years ago. Several Poky Pedalers refered to it as The Cow Shop, a name given by children attracted to the cows on display in the store.

We eventually made our way back to Goerke Park to bring an end to our pleasant evening of Bike Fun.

Although this was the last PPPP for this year, there are still several more Poky Pedals between now and October. You can find out about upcoming Poky Pedals here and can see the full 2013 Bike Fun Calendar here. Save the dates so you don’t miss a single opportunity to share Bike Fun.

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