Railroad Partners, Inc.

is a Texas based non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic rail corridors.

History of the formation of RPI

 October 8, 2008

Railroad Partners, Inc

We are pleased to inform you of the formation of Railroad Partners, Inc.(RPI). RPI is a Texas based non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic rail corridors.

The mission of Railroad Partners, Inc. is:
1) to use volunteer labor and privately owned maintenance equipment to preserve historic rail corridors in partnership with communities, railroads, local governments and other entities and individuals;
2) to acquaint the public with the geography, local history and cultural landmarks of such corridors;
3) to support efforts to educate the public regarding safety within rail corridors;
4) to build community support for the preservation of out-of-service or soon to be out-of-service rail corridors; and
5) to promote safe maintenance and other activities within historic rail corridors through training and mutual cooperation with rail-related groups.

RPI developed out of the realization that railroad corridors in Texas are becoming scarce and many are in danger of disappearing forever. Public awareness of the plight of these lines is waning and resources for keeping them viable are scarce.

In the spring of 2008, Jerry Light, John Pattison, Ed Michal, and I started discussing what we could do to continue developing speeder runs but not be adversely affected by outside interests. At the same time, Myron Malone and Richard Balzen were trying to open up some trackage east of Dallas. We decided that there needed to be a combined effort statewide to achieve common goals. As a result of many discussions we decided to proceed with incorporating a non-profit organization that would utilize our common talents and resources to develop relationship with railroad entities that could result in more rail access. We have used Larry Bowler's Recreational Railroad Coalition in California as inspiration.

On August 27, 2008 we met in Johnson City and officially formed Railroad Partners, Inc. We have since received our State incorporation certificate, received an EIN from the IRS, opened a checking account, and as soon as the bylaws are drafted, we will begin to solicit members, elect a permanent BoD, and apply for 501c3 status. The organizing BoD consists of Ed Michal, Myron Malone, and me.

As a new organization we have already accomplished the following:

1) Met with the City of Llano and obtained their support in keeping the Llano branch of the SP open. The Mayor of Llano has offered to formally inform CapMetro of this support and assist in our negotiations. He has also offered to help us solicit legislative representative support

2) Negotiated our first motorcar run (Blacklands RR)

3) Are working to develop a new relationship with Cap Metro for the purpose of proposing that RPI be granted access to the Llano-Kingsland segment of the Llano Branch..

4) RPI official Ed Michal will be trained to do Operation lifesaver presentations this month so RPI can support Capital Metro's Commuter Rail safety program and we encourage more RPI members to follow suit.

5) We have already received equipment donations from in the form of MOW equipment (two pushcarts and a tamper). We had to turn the tamper down because we could not come up with a way to transport it. We currently have a tie crane, numerous push carts, another tamper, and soon a rail mounted mechanical brush cutter available for our endeavors.

I am encouraged by the response of interested motorcar operators all over Texas. We are hopeful that this group will unite the operators and allow us to pursue our interests by presenting ourselves in a professional manner. Our plan is to be able to approach railroads with something to bring to the table when we request access. Those things would include volunteer labor for maintenance, operation lifesaver presentations, motorcar excursions, and other work in support of RPI's mission statement. This approach was successful with the Blacklands and we hope Cap Metro will be the same. We would also like to see a collective group of Excursion Coordinator's to provide excursion support without undue travel burdens on any one EC. Some of our potential excursion sites are over 600 miles apart.

I know that much of this is very ambitious and somewhat wishful thinking, but opportunities do exist and with the right approach we can achieve many of these goals. One important aspect of RPI is that we want it to be open to everyone (not just here in Texas) and all of our activities be very transparent. We want to extend our help and cooperation to all who are interested in keeping railroad venues open for access. As we acquire assets we plan to restore them and make them available to other interests that might need them.

This is the spirit we hope to promote with other groups such as Heart of the Heartlands (KS) and Oklahoma Railway Museum (OK). We are currently working through the Texas Rail Tourism Alliance to introduce RPI to the member railroad museums and develop mutual opportunities. Many of these organizations have resources and contacts that may result in future rail access. We plan to attend many of their promotional events to develop these relationships. By having RPI members statewide we hope to be able to do this by sharing the load without undue travel expenses.

On the eve of the Blacklands run, we plan to have a dinner meeting to introduce the excursion participants to RPI. I would invite you all to check out this new group. A website has been set up at www.railroadpartners.com . If you have any questions or would like to join, please send me your name, address, phone number, and email address. Dues and bylaws will be established at a later date by vote of the membership.

See you on the rails.

Leland Stewart, President
Railroad Partners, Inc.