by Dennis Dalman
Senior citizens in Sartell have been riding the rails and having a blast.
They’re learning how to use the Northstar Commuter Rail, including its newly added Greenline and Blueline connector rail services into the hearts of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Last October, members of the Sartell Senior Connection took a rail trip to the Science Museum in St. Paul. A main reason for the trip was just to acquaint senior citizens with how to use the Northstar Commuter Rail, which connects Minneapolis and Big Lake.
“It was a huge success,” said Jan Sorell, board member of the Sartell Senior Connection. “The 29 people who attended strongly suggested we do it again. So we will. Join us for another fun and exciting excursion.”
Sorell noted anybody of any age is welcome to join in the activities of the Sartell Senior Connection, including its “Ride the Rail” trips. The group maintains a strict non-discrimination policy toward younger participants.
The next rail trip is set for Friday, April 24. Participants will make several stops: The Mill City Museum, the Old Spaghetti Factory and a backstage tour of the Guthrie Theater. On the morning of April 24, riders will gather at 6 a.m. in the parking lot of the Sartell-St. Stephen School District’s District Service Building (the old Sartell school building). The participants will then car-pool to Big Lake, the northernmost station stop of the Northstar Commuter Rail. After purchasing their tickets to ride, they will board the train and settle back for a leisurely ride to Target Field, Minneapolis. There, they will transfer to commuter rail that will take them to the Minneapolis Downtown East Station. From there, the travelers will walk four blocks to their first destination, the Mill City Museum.
Built among the ruins of what used to be the largest flour mill in the world, the Mill City History Museum is located on the historic Mississippi riverfront. Visitors can learn about the intertwined histories of the flour industry and its importance to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Constructed in 1880, the vast Washburn Flour Mill was almost totally destroyed by a fire in 1991. The City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Historical Society then decided to build a museum and education center among the ruins, many of them refurbished.
The museum, which is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, contains many exhibits, guest speakers, educational movies, baking sessions, interactive programs, and dining and shopping options.
At the mill, the rail travelers will view a movie entitled Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat, then they’ll tour the exhibits gallery and experience the Flour Tower Multimedia Show.
After the mill, they’ll walk two blocks for lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory.
The Old Spaghetti Factory is an Italian-style restaurant on Park Avenue in Minneapolis. Known for its delicious and reasonably priced foods, the interior evokes an old-fashioned ambiance with stained-glass displays, antique lighting and an old trolley car that doubles as a dining hall.
The Old Spaghetti Factory is one of many chain restaurants, the first founded in Portland, Ore. in 1969.
In the afternoon, after lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory, the tour group will head off for a 45-minute backstage visit to the Guthrie Theater. They will get a close-up look at the costumes, machinery and other supports that create stage magic for audiences.
The world-famous Guthrie Theater was founded in Minneapolis in 1963. It’s renowned far and wide for its superb theater productions, classics and new works, rivaling or even besting some of the greatest plays performed on the stages of New York City or London.
Since reservations had to be made at the places on the tour, there is a maximum participation number of 35 people.
The deadline for registering for the rail tour is March 19.
The cost for the Mill Museum and Guthrie visits, combined, is $16. The cost of train tickets (round trip $12) and meals are not included in the trip. It’s recommended participants bring credit cards (as well as debit cards) because credit cards or cash are needed to purchase the train tickets from the Big Lake station’s ticket machines.
To register for the trip, write a check for $16 to “Sartell Senior Connection” and send it to Senior Connection, 212 3rd Ave. N., Sartell, MN 56377.
For more information, call Jan Sorell at 320-252-2930 or email her at email@example.com.