Twenty-three Boy Scouts in total, comprised from troops 30 (Norwalk), 47 (Vinton), 63 (Altoona),123 (Indianola),133 (Carlisle), 163 (Slater), 171 (Grimes) and 354 (Newton), completed the requirements for earning the Boy Scouts of America Railroading Merit Badge Saturday, July 8, at the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad/James H. Andrew Railroad Museum and History Center in Boone. This was the last of three sessions for this summer.


Scouts were introduced to a number of railroad-related topics. They discussed the history of railroads in Iowa and the United States; Justin Moreland of Boone taught Operation Lifesaver-Railroad Safety. The Scouts toured the grounds of the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad and viewed a working diesel locomotive, learned about the history of locomotives and various locomotive designs, and discussed the difference between class one, two and three railroads. Scouts also toured the cab of the railroads imported Chinese steam locomotive (8419). Scouts also learned about the major rail facilities in the United States, the types of cars running on freight trains today, and viewed and discussed the Union Pacific display in the Andrew museum. They also learned about the formation of Amtrak, how to read AMTRAK timetables, as well as learning of light rail and mass transit vehicles used in larger cities today.


As part of their day, Scouts boarded the 1:30 p.m. excursion on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad and concluded the day with special guest, retired Illinois Central Railroad Telegrapher Norman “Si” Simons of Newell, and Sister Marie Cue and her husband Glenn, both career telegraphers. “Si” was with the railroad 44 years and worked out of Storm Lake for the Illinois Central Railroad, among many other locations. He was also a shipboard telegrapher for the Navy during World War II. The group taught the Scouts basic telegraphy, the difference between American and International Morse code and highlighted various types of telegraph keys and devices. Each Scout sent a Morse Coded message out on the provided keys.