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Press Release

March 6, 2015

Contact: Renee Trindle
Sod House Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 580-463-2441

"Railroads that Built the West" Presentation Scheduled at Sod House Museum

Aline, Okla. — A panel of railroad buffs will give a presentation March 21 at 10 a.m. at the Sod House Museum near Aline. The panel is comprised of Mark Stubsten, Bill Cornelsen and Jim Wilkinson, all from Major County, Oklahoma. They have collected interesting stories of many western railroads, but with particular emphasis on the Orient (later Santa Fe) railroad that crossed the Cherokee Strip. When the Orient was first built, Fairview became a point for repairs on all the engines and cars. Due to this development, Fairview became a railroad-minded community, housing many of the employees.

The speakers will give presentations about the railroads in western Oklahoma that will both intrigue and entertain visitors attending. Each presenter has stories of experiences related to them by various railroaders. In addition there will be a detailed sketch of how the Orient helped build Fairview and other towns along the line in Oklahoma.

Mark Stubsten is a retired banker from Fairview. He remains an active civic leader, classifying his crowning civic achievement as being involved in the establishment of the facilities at Gloss Mountain State Park. He is a graduate of Panhandle State University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He was first employed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a county executive director for 13 years. For the next 30 years he served as vice president of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Fairview. His interest in railroading and his special talent of remembering details provides the main resource for data for railroad historians in western Oklahoma.

Bill Cornelsen is a third generation resident of Major County, born in Fairview in 1955. His interest in railroads developed at an early age while watching trains on the Santa Fe. One of his earliest memories is of watching the "doodlebug" passenger train from the back porch of his house. He also became intrigued with the Rock Island system near his grandmother's home in El Reno. He started taking train watching seriously after graduating from college in 1977. He was able to take photos of Amtrak's Lone Star while living in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Cornelsen moved to Casper, Wyoming. in 1979 and began following the Burlington Northern, Union Pacific and Chicago & Northwestern lines there, as well as systems servicing Denver, Colorado. He returned home in 1984 was involved in an effort to save the railroad through Fairview, and also attempted the restoration of Santa Fe steam engine No. 2522.

Jim Wilkinson is a former associate district judge of Major County. After his retirement he started research toward the publication of Gloss Mountain Country, the second volume of the history of Major County. He prepared an in-depth review of the history of the Orient Railway for the book and became acquainted with many aspects of railroading through his research and interviews with Stubsten and Cornelsen. He grew up in Fairview and lived near the railroad tracks. He has remained active with the Major County Historical Society and works on restoration of the railroad museum there.

The Sod House Museum is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The museum is open Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., and is located southeast of Aline on State Highway 8. For more information contact Director Renee Trindle at 580-463-2441 or sodhouse@okhistory.org.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the Oklahoma Historical Society visit www.okhistory.org

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