The History of the St. Croix Railroad

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"One thing this world does not need is a dry history book filled with dates and lists. The book about the St. Croix will be different. I am a story teller. I want to tell the story about this railroad and its members. And if we don't get at it soon, the stories will be lost forever."

That paragraph tells us as much about Charles Schaal as it does about his next project, "The History of the St.Croix Railroad."

The author, following 35 years in church ministry, is the supervising adjuster in Southeast Minnesota for GAB Robins, N.A. Often asked if the two career tracks clash, he says, "Ministry is about people and interpreting their needs in relation to a set of non-negotiable principles. Insurance adjusting seeks to meet the needs of people by interpreting the pre-negotiated rules. Both are about people, needs and interpretation. There always is a story. Each person needs to tell and understand their story to answer the questions of personal significance."

Charles is a resident of Rochester, Mn. He and his wife of 35 years, Viki Robertson Schaal, are both native Texans and have two married daughters, Tonia Schaal Montgomery and Melanie Schaal Bersano, and five grandchildren. Charles believes the strength of a family is tested in its ability to stretch and twist without breaking. "We faced life together these last 35 years. Whether it involved career decisions, health challenges or moving 900 miles from home, this was a family journey. Our stories can't be told without hearing the others."

Charles' education track includes Bay City High School, Wharton County Junior College where he was Student Body President, Houston Baptist College and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO. The fields of study included music, ministry and education.

His writing career includes numerous published articles in newspapers. Among these was a syndicated column carried by small Mid-Missouri newspapers while pastor at the Rothville Baptist Church, Rothville, MO. Writing for newspapers kept Charles in touch with people and their passions. "The people of South Texas and Mid-Missouri are not unlike their neighbors in the upper midwest. They are strong, proud and optimistic. They have a firm hope in the future. The welfare of their family is a primary goal."

When asked why writing continues to be his passion, he said, "I enjoy writing about people and their dreams. I love hearing how, against all odds, they overcame all that opposed them. I am fascinated to know how they changed and what stayed the same. I want to tell those stories. They make up the fabric of who we are as a family, community and nation."

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