Geneseo's Trains, Planes, Autos event to recall Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack

Claudia Loucks
For the Republic
The Geneseo Firefighters Association will host a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on Saturday, Sept. 10, in conjunction with the annual Trains, Planes, & Automobiles celebration, Sept. 8-10, in Geneseo. The event will be held at the bleachers on the Bob Reade Football Field in Geneseo. From left, Volunteer Firemen Brandon Morse and Dustin Minnaert; Zack Sullivan, executive director of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce; and Volunteer Fireman Chad DeFauw.

The Trains, Planes & Automobiles event is an annual celebration in Geneseo and for the second year will include a remembrance of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Each year the TPA event offers something for all ages, from period aircraft overhead, antique cars lining the downtown streets and tours of the canal to activities for the younger set.

“Trains, Planes & Automobiles” (TPA) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8-10, is sponsored by the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce. For information, call the Chamber, 309-944-2686.

Festivities get underway Thursday, Sept. 8, when the Geneseo Airport pilots host the annual National Stearman Fly-In. Public can experience the sights and sounds of the World War II Stearman Bi-Planes land and take off from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gen-Air Park, east of Geneseo on U.S. Route 6. It is requested that there be “absolutely no pets at the airport.”

The trip to the Geneseo Airport is part of the National Stearman Fly-In celebration that takes place each year in Galesburg.

The Gen-Air Park Airport is located east of Geneseo on U.S. Route 6.

The aerial photo was taken by Scott Johnson of Geneseo at the 2021 Stearman Fly-In at the Geneseo Airport which is part of the annual Trains, Planes & Automobiles celebration in Geneseo.

The fall event also features “Cruise the Canal,” tours of the historic Hennepin Canal on Friday, Sept. 9.

Zack Sullivan, executive director of the Geneseo Chamber, said, “The tours started at Trains, Planes & Automobiles a few years ago and are a popular annual attraction along the Hennepin m Canal. They are a great asset to the weekend activities, and give people an opportunity to see and hear all the Hennepin has to offer, along with facts about the history of the canal.”

“The Chamber works to remind people that we have a State Park right here in our back yard,” Sullivan said. “It is important that efforts are made to showcase the canal as a local tourism attraction. The canal tours are popular and the fall foliage tours regularly sell out.”

The guided tours last approximately 90 minutes, departing at 9 and 11 a.m. and at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, from Lock 24, north of Geneseo, and continue west. Parking is available where the tours begin. Cost is $25 per person which includes a provided golf cart to be driven by the guests. Cart drivers must have a valid driver’s license.

Those planning to take the tours should take their bug spray and sunscreen, and pets are not allowed on the tours.

Reservations are required and may be made by calling the Chamber office, 309-944-2686. There will be 15 golf carts available for each tour and Sullivan said, “The reservations are filling up fast so I encourage anyone interested to contact the Chamber as soon as possible.”

Sullivan said a portion of the proceeds from Cruise the Canal tours go toward preservation, upkeep and maintenance of the canal

On Saturday, Sept. 10, the Geneseo Firefighters Association will host a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at the Bob Reade Football Field at Geneseo High School.

Registration for the Stair Climb begins at 7 a.m. on Sept. 10 and participants can climb the stairs (bleachers) or walk the track anytime between 8 and 11 a.m. Event T-shirts will be available to purchase, at $20 each, at the site and in the downtown area. All proceeds will benefit the families of Fallen First Responders.

There will be tickets for a 1911 Gun Raffle and Grill Raffle with the purchase of an event T-shirt.

The Memorial Stair Climb is open to the public, free to participate or to come as a spectator. For more information, visit; face book.

Festivities on Sept. 10 also include music in the downtown area, provided by 3-D Sound, airplanes on display in front of the Geneseo Historical Museum along with model airplanes and trains, and a car show. Dash plaques will be presented to the first 300 entries.

Sullivan said, “This is one of the largest annual car shows in the Sate of Illinois and will feature approximately 350 antique vehicles.

The car show is sponsored by Maple City Cruisers with registration beginning at 7 a.m.

Members of the Geneseo Model Railroaders will showcase displays at the Geneseo Communications building East Exchange St.

There also will be a train engine on display in the downtown area. The locomotive is being provided courtesy of Iowa Interstate Railroad LLC.

At 12 noon, there will be a Salute to Veterans when the VFW Color Guard will walk through downtown Geneseo.

The Salute to Veterans will include a National Anthem Performance, a 21-Gun Salute by the Geneseo VFW, a moment of silence and an airplane fly-over.

Food vendors also will be part of the downtown celebration, serving a variety of items form pork chops and steak sandwiches to funnel cakes.

Sullivan said the Trains, Planes & Automobiles event has grown over the past 16 years “and essentially takes over downtown Geneseo and is family fun.”

“Visitors can get up close to see hundreds of classic cars, and even some airplanes," he said. “Car enthusiasts can interact with other car enthusiasts; it is a great networking opportunity, and our downtown businesses will celebrate the event.”

The origin of Trains, Planes & Automobiles happened in 2005 when the Chamber worked with Quad-City officials to have a special steam engine make a stop in Geneseo, and Sullivan said, ”At that time, local car collectors were invited to park their cars in the downtown area to add more excitement to the day and the annual celebration was born form there.”

In addition to activities listed for Saturday, Sept 10, there also will be:

  • 2 p.m. trophy awards for antique cars – ceremony at stop light.
  • 2 p.m. drawing for the Geneseo Chamber annual 50-50 raffle.
  • 3 p.m.– live music at the Central Bank Pavilion will feature Class of “82 from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by live music from Lynn Allen.

The three-day celebration in Geneseo is sponsored by the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce and Hiland Toyota, WQAD, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Allure, Central Bank, Quad Cities Investment Group and Quad Cities International Airport.