Warren Scholl Remembered

Warren M. Scholl, one of the founding board members of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail and a lifelong student of railroad history, passed away on July 28, 2019. Friend of CSR, Kevin Keefe, wrote a meaningful remembrance of Warren, which was published on the Classic Trains magazine website. You can read the original article here. Keefe has graciously permitted CSR to reprint it here.

Remembering Warren Scholl

Kevin P. Keefe

Scholl and CSR’s President Davidson Ward beside the 84 inch drivers of ATSF 3463 in Topeka, Kansas.

Scholl and CSR’s President Davidson Ward beside the 84 inch drivers of ATSF 3463 in Topeka, Kansas.

If you go to railroad events often enough you already know that trains aren’t the real priority — it’s the people. My schedule is fairly full of these kinds of things, and to be honest I don’t always remember the speeches I heard, the PowerPoint presentations I endured, or the images I saw up on the screen. But I definitely recall seeing old friends. One of my favorites has always been Warren Scholl.

Alas, I got the terribly sad news a couple of weeks ago while on a two-week trip through England: Warren died July 28 at home in Lenexa, Kans., after a battle with cancer. He was 77. I understand from people who were there that his August 8 funeral was standing-room only. I wasn’t surprised. Anyone who ever met Warren instantly bonded with him.

The basic details of Warren’s life are this: born in Chicago in 1942, he graduated from Lane Tech in 1960, served in an Army artillery battery in Germany for two years, went into the hobby shop business for a while, then hired out as a switchman at Santa Fe’s Corwith Yard in Chicago in 1978. He had a successful career on the railroad, with a variety of assignments before retiring from BNSF in 2011. He was a mainstay on the crews of Frisco 4-8-2 No. 1522 and Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751. Along the way he married his wife Susan and had two sons, all of whom survive him. By all accounts, it was a full life.

The thing I’ll remember about Warren is that he was always glad to see you, and he’d say so in the most enthusiastic terms. Seeing Warren on a steam trip, or at a Lexington Group meeting, or at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s

“Conversations” conference in Lake Forest, always brought a smile. He loved railroading, to be sure, but I think most of all he loved the friendships.

That extended to the way he worked on the railroad. After his death, I read a social media post in which another BNSF railroader, a manager, praised Scholl’s efforts for the work he did years ago as a union rep in the Chicago area. Warren had a reputation for trying to reach solutions rather than fall back on the old confrontational stance so common to the business.

One of Scholl’s pals from Chicago remembers him fondly. Mike Croy got his start on the Santa Fe at Corwith Yard, which is where he encountered Warren early in their careers. Croy retired in 2003 as terminal superintendent in San Bernardino.

“Warren and I go back many, many years to Corwith,” recalls Croy. “I was the third-trick yardmaster and Warren was a newly hired yard switchman. Whenever his crew would go to beans, Warren would wander up to the tower to watch and learn the overall operation.”

In Scholl, Croy found a kindred spirit. “I was impressed by his thirst for learning. It was during those visits that we shared our love of railroading, and especially the Santa Fe. And this was at a time when being a railfan was not cool.”

That love of the Santa Fe was a huge theme in Warren’s life. Another person who saw that firsthand is Mike Martin, a former AT&SF public relations manager who went on to senior p.r. positions in the food and agribusiness sectors. Mike got to know Warren as he transitioned from locomotive engineer to training instructor in the Kansas City area.

“I am firmly convinced Warren Scholl's blood matched the hue of Santa Fe passenger and Super Fleet locomotive paint,” says Martin. “Warren could work effectively with anyone at the railroad, and everyone liked working with him. He was well respected for his knowledge and insights related to safe train operations, and he was interested in all things Santa Fe. Warren would often engage in lengthy casual discussions on just about any railroad topic.”

Martin recalls that Warren was a go-to option in 1997 when he and Jim Schwinkendorf in the Operating Department were tasked with finding people to oversee the railroad’s first Employee Appreciation Special (EAS), a train that became a tradition on BNSF. “Warren was an obvious choice and he became a fixture on these annual trips, his last being in 2018,” says Martin. “Warren achieved his childhood dream of being a locomotive engineer and working for Santa Fe.”

Those EAS trains provided a special bond between Warren and another BNSF engineer and 1522 veteran, Jeff Schmid.

“We worked together literally 14 to 16 hours a day on the Employee Appreciation Special,” Schmid remembers. “Our duties overlapped, and eventually we always knew where the other would be and what they would be doing. Dressed the same, with orange vest, radio belt, and EAS ball cap, people regarded us as almost interchangeable. Frequently we were addressed with the other’s name.”

Schmid says Warren was someone you could always count on. “He was the same reliable person at 0730 crew breakfast as he was at the next morning's 0730 breakfast, even though he had been up all night nursing a sick locomotive.”

I met Warren in 1988 when I headed down to St. Louis to do a cover story for Trains on the resurrection of the 1522. Over the years I had several encounters with the 1522 — one of my favorite steam locomotives — and Warren was usually around, including for a couple of memorable cab rides in Wisconsin and Missouri. I saw a lot of him in 2001 when the 1522 hauled the EAS train through Missouri and Oklahoma.

One of the great things about the 1522 crew was how positive they all were — about their engine, of course, but also about each other, as well as the crews on other mainline steam locomotives. There was none of the bad-mouthing I’ve encountered on some other engines.

Instead, the overriding vibe on the 1522 was, “Gee, aren’t we lucky to be alive and doing this!” And no one personified that as much as Warren Scholl, who always had a smile on his face. I’m really going to miss him.

Everett Railroad Testing Complete


| The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR), working in conjunction with the Natural Resources Research Institute of the University of Minnesota – Duluth (NRRI), have been making substantial progress in the development of sustainable solid fuels for use in boilers, including those of historic steam locomotives. The latest advancement in this multi-year project was the test of a wood-based biofuel known as “torrefied biomass” in a 1920-built steam locomotive at the Everett Railroad (EVRR) in Hollidaysburg, Penn., earlier this Summer.

Following a few months of data processing, we are pleased to announce the results of the Everett Railroad Biofuel Testing. The overall progress is positive, and we are well on the way to having a usable product.

MSOE Hosts First Design Review of Innovative STEM Education Initiative Based Around Milwaukee County Zoo Steam Train


The Milwaukee School of Engineering CREATE Institute hosted the first design review of an innovative, multi- high school STEM engineering challenge this week. The program, which is headed up by Learn Deep in collaboration with the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) seeks to pilot an innovative education initiative that partners area high schools with colleges to bolster STEM education. With the participation of six local high schools, five colleges, and multiple industry sponsors, this initiative seeks to leverage the Zoo train to spur meaningful tech education. The goal of the initiative is to help schools build the capacity and relationships to collaborate across districts with community partners to take on real world engineering challenges. 

“The Zoo’s North Shore Bank Safari Train is one of our most beloved attractions, and something which hundreds of thousands of visitors ride each year,” explained Chuck Wikenhauser, Director of the Milwaukee County Zoo. “We are excited to have the Zoo train serve as a tool to engage local schools and universities in a collaborative learning opportunity that will both improve our railroad at the Zoo and create lasting learning experiences.”

During the project kickoff, Joost Allard and Pete Reynolds of LearnDeep addressed the crowd of 85 high school students and 10 industry reviewers.

During the project kickoff, Joost Allard and Pete Reynolds of LearnDeep addressed the crowd of 85 high school students and 10 industry reviewers.

The driving vision for this effort is to have Milwaukee area students design and fabricate an advanced steam locomotive powered by renewable fuels. That’s too big a challenge to take on off the bat, so over the next few years, students will complete projects of increasing complexity related to the Zoo train. Students are working this year to design and fabricate a replacement for the wooden water tower that services the steam train.

“Our goal with Learn Deep is to find opportunities to build connections across schools and industry to develop meaningful learning opportunities, and this effort with the Milwaukee County Zoo is our most exciting initiative to-date,” said Pete Reynolds, Co-Founder of Learn Deep. “The initiative taps into the energy and enthusiasm of educators who want to see their students do great things. It has also allowed industry and university partners to easily see where they can plug in to support innovative efforts in education that have a community-wide impact.”

This semester, students completed conceptual designs for a new water tower. They shared their designs, decisions, and processes with teams from other schools before a review panel hosted by MSOE on December 10th. In spring 2019, students will take what they learned from the review session to complete detailed designs which will be presented for review at an event hosted by UWM in early May. At that event a design approach will be selected.

“We strive to find opportunities for our students to connect with the community and dive deeper into developing both the mindset and skillset they need to become responsible professionals.  MSOE’s faculty often work directly with community partners like the Milwaukee County Zoo.  However, this project offers a unique opportunity for our students to mentor high school students while working to add value to the community.  All stakeholders involved owe this opportunity to the coordination efforts and vision of Learn Deep,” explained MSOE CREATE Institute Director DeAnna Leitzke, P.E. “Furthermore, this project is unique in that it allows high school students to interact with clients, practitioners, tradespeople, college students, and professors to solve a real world problem. This enables high school students to experience both academia and the trades, helping to inform their decisions post high school in a way that encourages equally the pursuit of higher education or skilled craft.”

Detailed engineering will happen in a boot camp over the summer, and schools will fabricate parts during the fall semester of 2019, for installation by spring of 2020. Fall 2019 will also see the kick off for the next phase of the project-- design and fabrication of an automated coal handling system.

Interesting the future in the rail industry is one of the key goals of this initiative. Kalmbach Publishing Co. was kind enough to donate dozens of magazines for the students to take home with them.

Interesting the future in the rail industry is one of the key goals of this initiative. Kalmbach Publishing Co. was kind enough to donate dozens of magazines for the students to take home with them.

Throughout the effort, participating students have the chance to visit university and industry partners for on-site workshops related to the project. This semester students attended a design thinking workshop hosted by Briggs & Stratton’s Concept Design Team, and a workshop on structural engineering considerations for the water tower hosted by MSOE. Teams are also supported by engineering students from partner institutions, as well as a pool of industry mentors.

“Following previous biofuel research we did with the Milwaukee County Zoo with its steam locomotives, we are excited to assist in this education program, in large part as it serves as a means to familiarize a new generation with railroads,” said CSR President Davidson Ward. “The rail industry overall is facing challenges attracting new talent in the face of retiring baby boomers, and the ability to engage a new generation with the concept of railroading, even on the scale of the Zoo train, is something that is both important and meaningful.”

Learn Deep serves as the overall coordinator of the program, with support from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. The partners seek the involvement, engagement, and support of local industries and philanthropists. Should you be interested in learning more and/or supporting this work, reach out to Pete Reynolds, Learn Deep.

Everett Railroad Testing Postponed


The testing of torrefied biomass fuel in Everett Railroad steam locomotive No. 11 has been postponed until later this summer.

Why the date change?

As we mention on our Everett Railroad Testing page,  primary research comes with twists and turns that are sometimes unexpected. In the case of this rescheduling, a large rotary densifier that NRRI intended to use for densifying the fuel into usable pellets had to be taken out of service for retooling. Until that machine is back online, we have no way to properly prepare the fuel for testing in the larger locomotive.

Current time estimates for the retooling of the machine indicate it might return to service in June, but we will wait to reschedule the testing until we know that we can properly condition the fuel. Once that is determined, and we are able to arrive upon viable test dates with our collaborators at the Everett Railroad, we will set the test date. More info will be provided as it is available.

CSR Adds New Board Members

We are pleased to announce that CSR has added two additional new members to its Board of Directors: Matthew R. Bergmann and Gary F. Knudsen. These two Kansans each bring a depth of experience in their respective fields that will serve to benefit CSR. Brief bios are shared below, and additional information on all of the CSR Board Members and Advisors can be found here.


Mr. Bergmann is an attorney at Topeka-based law firm Frieden, Unren & Forbes, LLP, where he specializes in the areas of administrative, business, public affairs and legislation, real estate, workers compensation and general practice matters. 

Mr. Bergmann’s preparatory education took place at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas where he graduated, magna cum laude, in 2001. He received his juris doctorate from the Washburn University School of Law in 2005.  During his preparatory and legal education Mr. Bergmann studied internationally, participating in coursework at Orebro University in Orebro, Sweden, as well as King’s College and the London School of Economics in London, England. 

Mr. Bergmann was selected to the 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Star List for Kansas. In 2012, he was honored as one of top “20 Under 40” young professionals in Topeka. In 2008, Mr. Bergmann was named the Topeka Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer. Mr. Bergmann is an Eagle Scout receiving that honor from the Boy Scouts of America in 1997. In addition to his volunteer position on the CSR Board of Directors, Mr. Bergmann currently sits on the Board of Directors for TARC, and has also served on the Board of the Directors for the Topeka Bar Association. Mr. Bergmann is a member of the Topeka Bar Association, Kansas Bar Association, American Bar Association, NSBA Council of School Attorneys, the Topeka Active 20/30 Club and Topeka Lawyers Club. 


Mr. Knudsen is no stranger to the arena of railroad preservation, offering thirty year's experience in the steam preservation industry. He began volunteering in the preservation industry at the Black River & Western Railroad, where he assisted with the restoration to operation of former Great Western Railway 2-8-0 steam locomotive No. 60. In 1990, he began volunteering with the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation in Owosso, Michigan, where he served as both a board member and an active volunteer in the operations of Pere Marquette locomotive No. 1225. With the organization for nearly 30 years, Mr. Knudsen handled all manner of  planning, organizing, and operations tasks associated with the safe operation of the 1941-built 2-8-4 steam locomotive. 

Mr. Knudsen began his professional career in the commercial aviation sector, working for more than 20 years in the field of aviation insurance underwriting. He is a certified airline transport pilot with more than 40 years of incident-free flying experience.

Following his airline career and seeking a change of pace, Mr. Knudsen hired on with the BNSF Railway in 2004 first as a conductor, then working his way up to the position of locomotive engineer. Working at the BNSF until his retirement in 2013, he garnered experience in freight operations in the California, Kansas, Nebraska and Springfield Divisions of the BNSF Railway, as well as the Oakland, Martinez, Niles, and Fresno Subdivisions of the Union Pacific Railroad. With safety first in mind, he worked for nine years with no FRA reportable injuries, incidents or accidents. 

Since retirement to Lawrence, Kansas, Mr. Knudsen has become involved with local preservation efforts, including having served on the board of the Lawrence, Kansas, Depot Redux project. That grass roots effort involved funding and logistics associated with the preservation of the former Santa Fe Railway passenger depot in Lawrence. 

How to Operate a Steam Locomotive, with Santa Fe 3464!

Ever wonder how the Santa Fe trained its crews to operate steam locomotives? CSR worked with the Kansas Historical Society to have this Santa Fe Railway training video re-scanned at 1080p resolution from the original 16MM film. We then edited the piece together, complete with narration and some "period" music. It also provides some video evidence of the high speed running these locomotives provided - 90+ MPH!

More information to the "sister" locomotive to that which "starred" in this video can be found on the CSR webpage dedicated to 3463