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      Train Museum captures the past and you're invited

      The old iron horse arguably did more to settle the west than any other invention. Towns didn't even become cities until they had a train depot and became a regular stop. From cattle to goods from back east, trains were the life blood of this country as we expanded.

      And a few of those old train cars are being salvaged and you can find them at a very special stop between Amarillo and Canyon.

      Keeping history alive isn't easy...just ask Jerry and Evelyn Buttel, who run the Buttel railroad museum. Jerry spent 20 years in the Air Force and 25 years with Nascar before retiring here in 1999.

      Like men hobbyists, he has more than a handful of toy trains, but they started collecting full sized train cars in 2001, after seeing a local ad for a caboose and a boxcar. Since then, their collection has grown... it's now at 11 cars dating back to the 1800's. And it's more than a hobby, it's a tribute to his family, according to Jerry.

      "It's a tribute to my relatives who were with the Santa Fe Railroad, Dad for 37 years."

      He says everyone's favorite car is the caboose they've redone, right down to replicating the original stenciling. He's added old lanterns and memorabilia for visitors to enjoy and they've come from all over.

      "Germany, Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia," he said proudly.

      He's got passenger cars, including this one that used to be on the Canyon E-Way at the old go-kart track.

      "Started looking for black leather and made a lounge car out of it," added Jerry/

      Some standard freight cars or RPO's Rolling Post Office's as they're known in the trade. And it keeps growing, even without Evelyn knowing about what's being added from time to time.

      "Evelyn's decided this is getting out of hand."

      It's all located between Amarillo and Canyon off Sundown lane.

      A little slice of rail yard heaven along with the old Post Office from Bushland, as it once stood.

      "Had to scrounge to find all these fronts..." Jerry said, pointing at the old type of glass front mailboxes you could rent at the post office.

      The old Train Depot from Canyon now sits out here, waiting for the next rain to arrive...and it was in pretty poor shape when he got it.

      "No floor, no ceiling, no roof, and critters running up and down through the middle of the room."

      And Jerry brought in something Evelyn thought every little town needed.

      "If you're going to have somethign like this, you need a church," she said.

      Not only a church, but the original pump organ from Washburn...that still works.

      And Jerry isn't kidding when he talks about his railroad legacy.

      "My Dad married my mom in 1929 in Hereford and I was born in a box car in 1931."

      "So, you are a child of the railroad?"

      "Orphan."

      And they have the same type boxcar like the one where he was born.

      "I was born in a boxcar like this one...and my mother even wrote down the number on the car and had it listed in my baby book."

      To Evelyn and Jerry, it's more than just collecting.

      "I just want to preserve it," said Jerry.

      "I can tell by listening to you that the railroad's been a big part of your life.

      "Sure has."

      And they want to share that with anyone that wants to come out and spend a couple hours looking around.

      By the way, Evelyn says she's in charge of when it come to cleaning and did drive one spike in the 960 feet of Track that's been laid as a foundation for the cars. Jerry says he's still wanting an engine to add to the collection, but until then, may keep adding a few things here and there.

      If you're interested in going to the Buttel Railroad Museum, give Jerry and Evelyn a call at 670-1314. and if you have any story ideas for Steve in the Panhandle Spirit, shoot him an email, SMyers@KVII.com.