Favorite Welcome to Michaelckelly.net!

ATSF209Welcome to michaelckelly.net, new home for railfan & author Michael C Kelly. On this blog you’ll find information on published books, videos, browse a sampling of my railfan experiences, plus info on upcoming releases.

As of July 2016, a new book is being launched: Rails Around Indiana. Please check out that page, and stay tuned for updates. I’m not Otto Perry, Lucius Beebe or Don Ball, but I strive to put forth a quality book that both the serious and casual train enthusiast can enjoy.

So be sure to check out the various pages on my site using the links on the header, and welcome to michaelckelly.net!


New book launch!!

I am pleased to announce the launch of my next book, Rails Around Indiana (and southern Illinois) – The Hoosier State in Days Past. This new book will follow in the template of Rails Around Missouri and Rails Around Michigan, featuring all-color photographs from the steam era to the mid-1980s. It will be hard cover, and in the range of 150-200 pages packed full of photos, maps and advertising collateral from the railroads of that era.

Go to the Rails Around Indiana page of this website for more info!

Frisco Friday!

It’s a Frisco Friday, with a sampling of Frisco images that can be found in Rails Around Missouri. The book is once again available in hard cover print, exclusively from the Britegraphix wing of Sekan Printing of Ft Scott, KS. Order yours today for $48 + $5 shipping by emailing Don Banwart, donald@sekan.com. If you live in or visit the St. Louis area, let me know and I will be happy to sign your copy.

West Plains SLSF 640 11-11-78 Plough

Above – West Plains, MO, by Bob Plough

SPFD SLSF 942 6-11-80 T Norton-Guss

Above – Springfield, June 1980 by Terry Norton

Rolla SLSF 730 9-3-78 Schroeder

Above – Rolla, Sept 1978 by Daniel Schroeder

Rolla SLSF 412 10-13-75 Dalman

Above – Rolla, 10-13-75 by Paul Dalman

The photos and captions in the actual book go into great detail, with history and maps, timetable info, etc. Don’t miss out!

MoPac Monday

Illmo-Scott City MP 2130 7-78 CFC

South of Cape Girardeau, the jointly operated MP-SSW mainline from East St Louis, IL to Dexter, MO crosses the Mississippi River at Thebes, just east of Scott City. Known as Illmo by the railroads, the Cotton Belt had a large, 2-story station and office building here. In July, 1978, MP GP38 # 2130 leads a southbound past the old depot. MP trains did not stop here for a crew change, but instead ran through to Poplar Bluff there the change was made.

Illmo-Scott City MP 3523 3-83 CFC

While the line from East St Louis to the Thebes bridge was owned and controlled by the MP, the line from the bridge to Dexter belonged to the Cotton Belt. A trio of MP GP50s drift downgrade from the Thebes bridge and into Illmo in March 1983. Both photos by Camille F Chappuis.

The above selections are found on pages 150-151 of “Rails Around Missouri”. Released in 2013, this 224-page hardcover book contained over 500 all-color photographs from all over the state of Missouri, from 1946-1986. Steam, diesel, freight & passenger trains from a by-gone era are recreated in living color for your trip to the past.

Back in print, your copy is waiting for you by contacting Don Banwart with Sekan Printing, 620 223-5190, option 1, or by emailing donald@sekan.com

Don’s price is $48 + $5 shipping

Rails Around Missouri going strong!


It’s been 2 months since Rails Around Missouri was re-released in hardback. The response has been enthusiastic, with many readers seeing it for the first time. Reprinted in more vibrant color and with a new cover, the book contains all 224 pages filled with over 500 all-color images from every part of Missouri, from 1946 to 1986.

Sekan Publishing’s Britegraphix is the printer of this version, and copies can be ordered directly from them by emailing Don Banwart, donald@sekan.com, or calling 620 664-7014 (please stay on until voicemail picks up).

You can also inquire at your local hobby shop, or visit the SEK Hobbies booth at the upcoming train shows:

Joplin Mo.,March 26,   Springfield Mo. April 26, –  Katy railroad historic Society convention April 21-24 ,- Oklahoma Spring show April 30,31, N.R.H..S. program friday evening 7;00 p.m .Wichita, Kansas ,- Enid, Oklahoma train show June 18-19.


Way Back Wednesday – Rock Island

It’s been well over 35 years since a Rock Island or Cotton Belt train rumbled across Missouri between St Louis and Kansas City via Freeburg. Shuttered by the Cotton Belt in the early 1980s, the scenic line, complete with 4 tunnels and several high bridges, has been officially abandoned west of Union, Mo. In fact, the line is currently being torn up in preparation of being converted to a biking & hiking trail.

The Rock Island completed this line from Kansas City to St Louis in 1905, but by that time, was not able to effectively compete with the more established Missouri Pacific and Wabash Railroads to the north. The foothills of the northern edges of the Ozarks were expensive and time consuming to build through, delaying completion for some time.

When the Rock Island fell onto hard times in the 1960s, this line suffered greatly from deferred maintenance. Below, eastbound Rock Island train # 74 passes through Freeburg, milepost 118, on  July 3, 1975. It has just exited tunnel #1 and is passing the forelorn Freeburg depot, making only 10-15 MPH. By this date it would take 12 hours or more to make it from Eldon, the halfway point, to either end of the line.

Freeburg RI 394 #74 7-3-75 M Nelson

The above photo is found on page 175 of Rails Around Missouri. Released in 2013 and reprinted in 2015, this book contains over 500 all-color images from every part of the state, spread over 224 pages with historical content and maps. Hardcover. Our online price is $54.95 plus shipping. Postal or dealer orders can be made by contacting Don Banwart of Sekan Printing, 620-664-7014, or donald@sekan.com