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Free Rides on Springfield & Joplin Railway this Weekend and on the 4th of July

The Springfield & Joplin Railway has been in operation near the Springfield-Branson National Airport for more than a decade.

It all started when Springfield resident, David Holberg, and his late wife bought some amusement park-style trains from her brother in the late 1990s. 

"When we bought this, my wife made the comment, 'some people have horses, some people have boats, we could have a train,'" he said.

After a few years of laying track and restoring the trains, with the help of friends, they opened them up for the public to ride. Every year around the Fourth of July and Halloween Holberg offers free rides on his 24-gauge hobby train on Airport Blvd.

A two-mile track winds through fields, woods and around a pond on land Holberg leases from the Griesemer Family, which owns Springfield Underground.

He talked about the Springfield & Joplin Railway while sitting on his wide front porch across Airport Blvd. from where the tracks are.  While he said it can be an expensive hobby, it’s worth the money he spends on it.

"It's awfully nice to hear comments from people that say, 'you know, I'm glad you're here.  I can't afford to take my children Chuck E. Cheese or the rest of them.  I just don't have the money.'  They come out here, and it doesn't cost," said Holberg.

He recently had surgery and doesn't get around very well, but he plans to be somewhere nearby watching people enjoy his trains.  

He worries about what will happen to the Springfield & Joplin Railway after he's gone.  He hopes someone with enough financial backing and a love of trains will keep it going for people to continue to enjoy.

Rides will be offered tomorrow, Sunday and on the Fourth of July (7/1, 7/2 & 7/4) from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 1100 N. Airport Blvd.