Spirit of Jasper train to run again this year

Christine Stephenson/The Herald
Joe Crutchfield, left, and his son, Alex Crutchfield, borth of Jasper, clean the Spirit of Jasper train Monday evening. For the past week or two, Joe has been cleaning the train nearly every night that it isn't raining after working at his shop, Crutchfield's Auto Detailing, during the day. He's been volunteering to clean the train before each season since 2019.


JASPER — After a year of being shut down due to COVID-19, the Spirit of Jasper train is set to run again this year.

City of Jasper Recreation Director Janessa Wagner told the Park and Recreation Board Tuesday that the official schedule is not public yet, but that the train is set to begin running in July.

“We’re getting calls galore about when we’re going to run,” she said. “People are ready to go.”

The vintage locomotives and passenger cars offer trips with food, beer and wine throughout Dubois County and up to French Lick.

Tickets will work differently this year, Wagner said, as they will be sold by tables instead of seats. Once the schedule is out, it will be available at www.spiritofjaspertrain.com.

An August 2020 post on the train’s Facebook page announced it would not be running for the rest of the year. This came after months of postponements due to COVID-19.

The train ran its first season in 2010. That first ride was several years in the making, full of fundraising, problem-solving and contract negotiation from city officials. Even from the first year, the train was considered a success by former Parks Director Ken Buck, according to Herald archives, and it has only grown in popularity each year.

Once the schedule is released, tickets can be purchased online, over the phone or in person, according to the Spirit of Jasper website.

The park board also:

• Accepted a bid for a new John Deere lawn mower for the Buffalo Trace Golf Course for $64,195.44.

• Heard there were 855 visitors at the Older American Center in May, which is up from April numbers. Almost all activities are picking back up to normal levels, Director Carie Dick said. So far, the center is being regularly sanitized and is encouraging social distancing, but there are no COVID-19 vaccination requirements yet.

• Heard that Buffalo Trace brought in $90,945.52 in May, which was over $20,000 more than profits brought in May 2020. There are 260 members so far this year, which is up 81 members from last year.

• Heard from Mayor Dean Vonderheide that the city is in the early planning stages for an indoor sports facility and aquatic center, which was identified as a high priority at the city’s project prioritization meeting in May. Vonderheide said there are no concrete plans yet but that the project is being launched, so long as the city can get partners aligned to help fund the long-term project.

• Heard that the initial asphalt has been installed at the pickleball courts, which will soon be newly renovated.

• Heard that Kamp 4 Kids has begun in the Jasper Municipal Swimming Pool basement. Wagner showed photos to the board to show how the basement has been repainted and decorated to be more welcoming for the campers. The camp used to be at the Habig Center but moved this summer for COVID-19 precautions, so the campers don’t come into contact with anyone at the senior center.

• Heard there will be a celebration for former Park Director Ken Buck’s retirement June 25 at the Parklands from noon to 3 p.m.

• Heard that local Girl Scout Caroline Kiefner presented her $2,000 for a water bottle filler at Bohnert park. She raised the money for her Girl Scout Gold Star Project.

• Heard that the Jasper Youth Sports Complex map will soon be available on the city’s website and will be handed out at tournaments.

• Heard that the Alexander Schoolhouse near Mill Street will be donated to the parks department.

• Accepted the hiring of a part-time employee for Buffalo Trace maintenance.

•Heard that the deadline for offers on the old Ruxer Golf Course property is July 6.

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