Residents of Erick, Oklahoma, saw a passenger train come through their town for the first time in nearly 50 years Friday as Farmrail commemorated the opening of rail service between there and the fellow Route 66 town of Sayre, Oklahoma, for a fracking-sand manufacturer, according to The Oklahoman newspaper.
The passenger train was just for carrying dignitaries for that event. But the ceremony marked the first time since 2001 that Erick had heard a train whistle of any kind. It took years to rehab the long-abandoned tracks between Sayre and Erick, which will be used by Badger Mining Corp. to help supply fracking sand to wells all over the region.
The Oklahoman provided some color from the scene Friday:
The passenger train arriving in Erick on Friday was greeted with great fanfare, starting with a performance of the state song “Oklahoma” by elementary school students. Junior high and high school students entered essays into a contest for prizes that include rides in the lead engine on Roger Miller Day.
The story also features a gallery of seven photos from the event.
Oklahoman reporter Steve Lackmeyer, well aware of Erick’s place in Route 66 history, talked to Erick resident Harley Russell at his Sandhills Curiosity Shop and mentions how Erick student Makenzie Janz knows the town’s link to the 2006 Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie.
“Radiator Springs is a small town that doesn’t get looked at anymore because a new highway was built,” Janz said. “At the end of the movie, Radiator Springs is now booming because the people have now heard of it by the publicity it got from Lightning McQueen.
“In the same way, Erick could be heading down the same path. But instead of it being McQueen the company Badger Mining could be the ones to do just that … they are helping bringing life back into our little town, just like Lightning McQueen did for Radiator Springs.”
The big event coincides with this weekend’s Roger Miller Music Fest, which honors the country-music legend who grew up in Erick.
The train upgrades and mining operations were hailed as a big boost for Erick’s economy. If nothing else, the sound of trains going through the Erick again undoubtedly will please some old-timers who live there.
(Image of a Farmrail train via its Facebook page)