All Aboard for National Train Day

A meeting of the engines at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Utah
From the Library of Congress’s Collections

Saturday, May 12th is National Train Day, which celebrates the train-travel experience. Events will take place in four major cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, as well as smaller venues across the country.

In the four major cities, train stations will include live entertainment, exhibits, kids’ activities, model train displays and tours of Amtrak equipment, freight and commuter trains, and private railroad cars. I think the latter is the most exciting part. We’ve climbed aboard some antique railroad cars at the Travel Town Museum, and nothing beats the luxury of the historic dining and sleeping cars. (NOTE: Travel Town is FREE and located in Griffith Park.)

For Los Angeles-based train enthusiasts, you could add Carney’s to your itinerary, where you can dine on world-famous hot dogs aboard converted train cars. Yum!

Don’t feel left out if you aren’t near one of the major cities. A searchable list of local events can be found here. And there are many.

According to the National Train Day Web site, “National Train Day marks the 143rd anniversary of the creation of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. On May 10, 1869, in Promontory Summit, Utah, the ‘golden spike’ was driven into the final tie that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, forever transforming the face and character of America.”

National Train Day is a wonderful excuse to dig into railroad history, and the Web offers several resources. First, check out Golden Spike National Historic Site. There are re-enactment scripts available under the “Kids” tab. The San Francisco Museum has a wealth of historical resources, including biographies of the “Big Four” who conceived the enterprise. Also the New York Times has original articles from the historic occasion online at their vast Learning Network site.

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9 responses to “All Aboard for National Train Day

  1. National Train Day? How cool.

    You’ve brought back memories of my mother and I taking the train to Winnipeg when I was 3 or so. My chief memories are of another little girl playing with my doll, and how dreadfully dirty my doll’s outfit got (this was before diesel engines, I guess!), and of the conductor teasingly calling me “a bad egg” because I wouldn’t take a nap. If I napped, I might miss something exciting! At 10 I was thrilled to ride the train at the historic recreation of Fort Steele in B.C. Great memories.

    I’m glad you give your kids these experiences. They are golden.

    • Trains are so much fun. We have my husband’s boyhood O gauge too, so they can put it together when they are a little older. My in-laws are big train people, so we’ve inherited a Christmas train that goes around our tree too.

  2. How I miss having a train to ride! (we only have freight trains to halt us and wake us in FC!) My husband’s uncle once had a platform w/electric trains that was hoisted above the bed (one must sleep!) in their old apt. – now it’s been rebuilt in the attic!

  3. I learn something new every day! Who knew there was a national train day? I’d better remember to mention Freight Train Trip on Saturday 🙂 I LOVE trains – they are so delightfully loud! And deliciously scary in fun way because they’re so big and fast. My husband commutes, though, so he gets way more than his fill 🙂

    • There are some big events in the City if your husband doesn’t mind taking the train on a weekend. And, I’ve found there’s a holiday for just about everything. When is Gummi Bear Day again?

  4. We love trains at our house! That’s cool you have a national train day…didn’t know about that. My boys love the Thomas the train series but I hope to one day take them on a real steamie…I showed them a youtube video of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway that we used to take when my husband and I lived in India for a year…it’s a lot of fun, and ‘delightfully scary’ as Susanna said…they use dynamite to clear boulders only minutes before the train comes!

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