Answer Man: Holiday Train zigzags to Austin
Hey Answer Man, how does the Canadian Pacific holiday train get to Austin from Rochester?
Very carefully. This is actually a very reasonable question, since there's no direct CP path to Austin from the Queen City. The train came to Rochester Sunday via La Crosse, which is simple enough -- up the CP main line on the west side of the Mississippi, then west on the DM&E line. From Rochester it continued on to Owatonna and west as far as Janesville, and then it doubled back to Owatonna.
It's a direct shot from Owatonna to Austin via Blooming Prairie and Lansing, along U.S. Highway 218. That's the old Milwaukee Road line.
Here's something I didn't know: The 103-mile DM&E line from Winona to Waseca is officially called the Waseca Subdivision, and west of Waseca it's called the Tracy Subdivision. As rail buffs know, the route mostly follows the historic path of the Winona & St. Peter Railroad, which arrived in pioneer Rochester in 1864 and continued on to points west. The railroad arrived in Kasson 150 years ago this year.
It's the Owatonna Subdivision that runs from that city through Austin and on to Mason City, Iowa.
Here's another question about the Holiday Train, which obviously was enjoyed by a lot of people during its loop through the area this week:
Dear Answer Man, who was the gal who sang country songs on the Holiday Train?
Kira Isabella . She's an up-and-coming country star in Canada who released her second album last year, called "Caffeine and Big Dreams."
There are three other passengers on the train who perform: Country singers Wes Mack and Doc Walker and pop band Chic Gamine , all from Canada.