Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thank You!

First I would like to start off by saying sorry for the length between the blog updates.  A lot has happened since my last update in July.  I have worked on and finished the posters to be used at Train Fest and other conventions.  I made two posters, which both focus on the years of the Milwaukee Road, but each contains a seperate color scheme.  My internship ended the middle of August so I could prepare for going back to school.  I was able to also go on a nice vacation to Las Vegas before heading back to school.  I have added a photo at the end of the blog of my trip. I started classes the end of August and am about to start my 4th week.  Already I have seen changes in my skills due to the internship.  From writing my articles this summer many of my teachers have noticed an improvement and are happy with what I have learned.  Not only have my writing skills improved, but my knowledge of an organization has as well.  In class I talk about the great opportunity I was given this summer.  Everyone seems to be impressed and interested on what I did, since it is such an unknown thing.  Working in the Archives has opened my eyes to non-profit work and might be a field I would like to do again.  Talking with other students about their internships I have noticed I was given more responsibilities and treated as an employee, not just another intern.  I have shed a lot of light on the Milwaukee Road and the Archives since my short time back at school.  Next week I will be giving a speech about the Archives, I've already gotten a lot of interest towards the topic from my teacher.  I can only hope the students will be as interested too.  All the experience I've obtained from the internship has also given me some great opportunities this semester.  I was asked to join a student run public relations firm here at Southern Illinois University where I will work with clients from the community.  This is a huge opportunity for me and I can only thank my internship for it.  I also was invited to the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference in San Diego this year.  This will be in November, where other students and me will represent our school.  Universities from all over will be there, along with employees from well known PR firms.  I will be able to talk about my great internship and hopefully do some networking towards a future job.  My summer internship has really helped open a lot of doors for me and I could not be more thankful.  Virginia and Chris were great mentors in helping me with all my projects and articles.  Whenever I needed them they were there to help and give advice.  Also without Nicole Johnson I would have been lost, she really taught me a lot about the railroad drawings and about things within the Archives.  I was also able to meet some great volunteers that made my days within the Archives wonderful.  This internship probably would not have been possible without my grandparents.  Who expressed the need for someone to bring attention to the Archives.  I can only hope that what I did this summer meets the expectations of everyone, especially MRHA.  I thank all the members for their support and Bob Storozuk, who I had the pleasure of meeting.  I hope to meet many of the members at Train Fest in November.  However, I am unaware if I will be able to make it home due to a very busy semester at school.  I will be going back to the Archives in October to check and make any final changes to my posters and do any last minute projects that need to be completed.  For those who have expressed the desire to read my articles I will either post them here or let you know where you can locate them.  Also I will post pictures of my posters after Train Fest for people who are not able to go and see them.  So please check back in the future for any extra news I have about pictures, articles, or any good news about the Milwaukee Road Archives and myself.  Again thanks to everyone at the Archives, all MRHA members, and everyone who has read my blog.  I can not thank you enough for the opportunities I have been given due to the internship.  I know my experience this summer not only has instilled knowledge within myself, but others from my knowledge.  I know I have grown so much  since I began and I know after graduation in May that many doors will continue to open.  And last minute news, I have heard that there is already someone interested in interning for the 2010 summer.  So it seems like a new trend has begun.

  This is me while in Las Vegas on a Zip Line tour in Bolder City.

Monday, July 27, 2009

America's Resourceful Railroad

Doing a lot of research for a possible article on electrification has taught me so much about how green the westward extension was.  It is amazing how inventive Laurence Wylie was in creating electrification.  To me, I see electrics as a type of hybrid car, both are friendly to the environment.  The Milwaukee Road was ahead of its time with electrics and going green.  I am sure the first thing on their minds was the amount of time and money going to be saved.  However, fast forward 95 years and the Road would be praised for what their doing to help the environment.  It is nice to see hoe creative people were.  Bill Brautigam was another legend on the electrification line.  I think he stole the thunder from Wylie when he invented regenerative braking.  It wows me how inventive they were in the early 1900's, but maybe that is just me being naive.  The braking system was able to put 40-60% of energy back into the trolley wires when descending a grade.  I read that on a trip the Road only had to pay $1.66 because so much energy was returned.  I yet again think and have to compare this to a hybrid car and could be compared to solar panels (since both are all natural).  After being part of the Milwaukee Road for almost 60 years it was sad to know it came to an end.  I can see where people were going when members decided to move into the diesel era.  Milwaukee Road members felt that having to repair the electrification lines and upgrade them would be too costly.  Many felt that the elimination of electrification led to the final downfall of the Road.  Members felt they would save more money, but in the end it did not make a big difference since new diesel engines had to be purchased.  If we could only see into the future and what electrics did to help out environment it would be amazing.  I like to believe that the Milwaukee Road paved the way for all the electric trains today.  If you have ever been to Europe then you probably know a lot of their train system is ran on electrification, lets sure hope they said thank you to the Road!  Some might like to think the electrics system was the best years on the Road.  For me the electrics simply make me think of the Road as America's resourceful railroad.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Articles and more

For the last week I have been working on my articles a lot. I wrote my second article, which focuses on the archives again, but more detail on the great volunteers we have. There has been several drafts already, but it's on the way to being a great article. The second article will be published in the staff news here, at the Milwaukee Public Library. Hopefully staff at the library will learn a little more about the amazing Milwaukee Road collection. It was realized that a lot of library staff and volunteers are unaware of the archives collection or what it even is; as Chris referred to the archives as "a hidden gem." I'm also working on a similar article to go on the library website so all may see. I have also gotten some really great feedback from my first article and it is in the final stages of being complete. The plan is to have the article published in next months Hiawathagram. This is really exciting news for me since it will be my first ever published article. I have also been working hard on ideas for a poster for TrainFest and other conventions. I came up with some great ideas that Chris was happy with, I may even be able to do both. I hope my posters are able to wow and attract people so more attention may be paid to the Milwaukee Road and Archives. So the next step is finding all the supplies to put my ideas into action. This will be my favorite part because I really like the creating process. By far the most exciting part though will be looking for photos to use on the poster. I always love seeing how amazing the trains and depots were, it is so fascinating. For the last two days I have been working on more railroad drawings, trying to help Nicole with the large amount of stuff to file and make her job a bit easier. I really enjoy working with the drawings due to how interesting and the history associated with each drawing. I also want to thank everyone to reads and comments on my blog. The comments I have received on here or through e-mail have been great, whether good or bad. This is a learning process for me and all kinds of feedback is helpful.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to comment

So I appologize again on the confusion with commenting. When I created this blog I did not realize only google and blogger members could comment. So I have created an account for everyone to use and it will make it simpler. When commenting on my blog there is a drop down box and you should select google account. It will then ask for you to sign in. The username/email is and the password is milwaukee road. All comments will show up as the user mrha so it would be great if you left a name at the end of the comment, unless you would like to remain nameless. You can also go to and sign in with the username and password. I have already added this blog to the page so right when you sign in my blog should be a member you are following. For some that might be easier. Which ever way you to choose will work. I hope the commenting problem is solved and if anyone has any questions feel free to email me at

Monday, July 6, 2009

Busy Week

This past week was short, but seemed very busy. The library was closed Thursday and Friday due to the holiday, hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Last week I wrote my first article. It focuses on the Archives; giving some history, how the reorganization is going, and the need for help. So far Chris Sentz has given great comments and I'm looking forward to some great feedback for changes. I know this is only the first draft and will take some time until the final copy is complete. It is an exciting process and am looking forward to the end product. I've begun researching for my second article which will probably focus on electrification. The idea came from Virginia Schwartz about how electrics was linked to going green. I was really interested with the idea. Last semester I took an environmental class and really enjoyed it. The hopes are the article will be published in some sort of environmental magazine and get people interested in the Road. I was also able to meet the MRHA president last week. Bob Storozuk and his wife came to the Archives and it was great to meet him. Which I was told people are unable to comment. I apologize for that and will try and fix that asap. During my time off I went to see the movie Public Enemies with Johnny Depp, it is about the bank robber John Dillinger. I was originally interested in the movie due to it being filmed in Milwaukee and being a true story in the Midwest. But I thought it was really cool when Dillinger took a train and it just so happened to be The Milwaukee Road. They really incorporated true events into the movie and it shows how big the Road really was during that time. The train was only in the movie for 30 seconds, if if you don't like violence I don't suggest seeing it. This week I'll be working on a poster for the conventions and writing an article was the Staff News at the library.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Where has the luxury gone?

For the last week I have been continuing my work on research for articles I need to write. I have been learning so much about the Road. Last week I read a lot about the Hiawatha's and they truly are spectacular. I would have loved to experience these trains first hand. However, in a small way I have. During my research I learned that Amtrak took over some of the routes/railroads that were run by the Hiawatha. I have taken the Amtrak several times before, especially recently to and from school. So I began thinking about the way it was and the way it is and brought the question to mind, what's happened to the luxury? Amtrak offers a lot of great services and amenities. However, the Hiawatha had impressive speed, but even more impressive was the luxury it offered passengers. Amtrak does offer coach, business, and dinning cars (and probably sleeper cars on longer rides). Which are all great and have pretty good room to feel comfortable, but on a packed train with college kids for 5 1/2 hours can still get a bit crowded. The first photo is what is offered for my ride. Thinking of how it is I just can't get the image of how it was out of my head. The Hiawatha's offered the best of the best for an enjoyable travel. I loved the beaver-tail, skytop lounge, Superdome, large bathrooms with private lounges, and diner cars that served prim rib. A girl can only dream for luxury to resurface like that. However, travelers seem to be more interested with speed, while companies want higher passenger quantity. Maybe I'm wrong and travelers enjoy how it is and feel it's more luxurious. I personally wouldn't ,ind having a couch or recliner with a great window view to make the ride more enjoyable. Also last week I was given a little behind the scenes tour of the library. I saw a second workroom where a lot more of the Milwaukee Road history is stored. I'm just amazed at the amount of stuff that is here, the workroom had 2 floors! Then I saw where the city of Milwaukee Archives was, which also stores some drawings from the Road due to no storage room. This week I'm reading all about electrification and I'm sure I'll learn a lot!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This blog is being created to share my experience and what I've learned while interning with the Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Public Library this summer. I am a senior at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. I am a speech communications major specializing in public relations and minoring in marketing. I was given the opportunity to be a PR intern for the summer and help reopen the Milwaukee Road Archives, which is planned for January 2010. I am only in my 3rd week and will work until August. So far I have helped with the railraod drawings, which I am told there is about 35,000 (WOW!). For those who haven't had a chance to take a look at some they are truely interesting. Most of the drawings are from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Some are the original drawings while other have had to be reprinted due to their condition. It is also interesting to see blueprints of the trains and depots and then see them in true form, its amazing how accurate the drawings and real thing is. A lot of these drawings have been handeled by Nicole Johnson, a contract archivist and graduate student at UWM. She began the project in January and has gotten so far in such a short time and she really has done such a great job. The Milwaukee Road Archives also has wonderful volunteers and employees working hard on the re-organization. I am lucky to have a small amount of knowledge about The Milwaukee Road prior to my internship. I was given this opportunity due to my grandparents, Tom and Carolyn Helms (thanks!). They were once in charge of creating the MRHA calendars and are very active members of the MRHA. My grandpa was once vice president and now is preservation charmain. My grandma is the current secretary for the MHRA. Not only am I learning about The Milwaukee Road and MRHA, but also about what my family has done. I recently learned about my great grandparents work with The Milwaukee Road, my great grandmother was a secretary for about 11 years while my great grandpa was an engineer for about 43 years. For the rest of the summer I will be writing 4 articles to be published, press releases, a poster and brochure for Milwaukee Road Archives for conventions, and various small projects. Currently I am doing research to start writing my articles. I'm looking at books, calendars, and The Milwaukee Railroader to gain ideas and lots of extra knowledge. If anyone has an interesting story or idea's they would like to see in an articles I would love to hear it. For those who don't know the Milwaukee Road Archives is in need for volunteers and donations, without either the reopening date of January 2010 is unlikely. If you would like to donate time or money that would be great! You may contact Virginia Schwartz at the Milwaukee Public Library if interested. I hope the next couple months will be as interesting for others as is for me.