Kansas Belle Dinner Train, a for-profit corporation, was founded by a group of investors in August of 1988. Negotiations were consummated with the Eastern Nebraska Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society to operate on their tracks running from Fremont to Hooper, Nebraska.
Actual operations began on October 22, 1988, with our car Elkhorn River, and concluded on October 7, 2012, after 24
Over the course of the next two years, main-line sound and a closed circuit television/VCR/video system were installed. A new power car (N&W #410) was purchased in 1990 to provide a more adequate power source.
By mid-February 1997, a third dining car, Rose Creek, (another Canadian National and Via Coach) entered our service with an additional 56 seats and a second galley.
Within a month a former Milwaukee Road car, #193 Fox River was added primarily as a storage car. Currently in reserve, it was resurrected from a fire-gutted shell. Fox River was a former first-class parlor car.
Fontanelle Springs, (Ex CN/Via) joined the fleet officially in December of 1999. It is essentially a dual service car technically a lounge and diner. With a seating potential of 36 seats the train officially has a capacity of 192 seats if the lounge (bar) area, which is now the main service center of the train.
Added in late June 2000, our newest power car, Clear Creek, formerly a Milwaukee Road Baggage-Dorm car replaced Fox River. A portion of the car is used for our new generator, the other part is used primarily for storage. Eventually, the small rooms in Clear Creek, may be used for private dining rooms.
In February 2012, the Midland Railway contacted their State Representative on our behalf to help with a licensing challenge for the Dinner Train to move to Kansas. Her success carrying a bill for us allowed the new more equitable law to go into effect July of 2012, opening the door for us to move to Kansas.
The hard decision of leaving Fremont was made easier by the beautiful and charming community of Baldwin City, as well as the warm reception we received when touring the new location possibility. We truly were humbled at the outpouring of support for our endeavor. The demographics of the surrounding cities and the beneficial support of Baldwin City, Douglas and Franklin counties as well as the State of Kansas made the choice easier for the next exciting adventure of the newly named Kansas Belle Dinner Train.
In November 2012, individual railcars began the long trek south (255 miles) from Fremont to Baldwin City, one at a time by semi-tractors, the total assembly being 122 feet long on the highway.
The first car was reassembled at the Ottawa Quarry tracks and pulled into Baldwin City on November 7, 2012. The last car arrived at the Depot on November 27, 2012.
The office at 215 Ames in Baldwin City was moved into December 1st, 2012. And we started our first run on January 19th, 2013.