May 10: "Train Day" Across the National Park System

All board for National Train Day across the National Park System! NPS photo from Steamtown National Historic Site by Ken Ganz.

Train afficionados can get their fix Saturday, May 10th, by heading to a handful of national park sites that will be commemorating the train in some form or fashion. Hitching its wagon to Amtrak's decision to celebrate National Train Day on Saturday, the National Park Service has plans for a number of events at park sites from coast to coast.

Amtrak selected May 10 as National Train Day to honor the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, on May 10, 1869 – today’s Golden Spike National Historic Site. The event joined 1,776 miles of track laid by Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads.

“National Train Day is the perfect time for us to launch ‘Railroad Connections’ on WebRangers, our very popular children’s web site,” says Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. “Many children have never been on a train so we developed ‘Railroad Connections’ to provide the stories of the growth of national parks and the development of railroads.

"Children are going to have a lot of fun as they learn. Youngsters will learn to run a steam locomotive, decode telegraph messages and learn about national parks to solve train and national park mysteries,” says the director.

You say you don't live nearby any national park site with train connections? Then you and your WebRangers can learn about trains without leaving home by calling up "Railroad Connections" on the Internet. This Park Service-run site features videos made at Golden Spike National Historic Site and at Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania.

Since 1994, Amtrak and the National Park Service have promoted train travel to national parks. The Trails & Rails Partnership Program places park rangers and volunteers on trains to share park information and to point out natural and cultural highlights on several regional Amtrak routes across the country.

The largest National Park Service presence on Saturday will be at Union Station in Washington, D.C., with park rangers and volunteers from the Park Service's Trails & Rails Program as well as rangers from Greater Washington National Parks on hand to discuss trains. There will also be a special National Park Service booth for children that will include the world premiere launch and demonstration of ‘Railroad Connections’ on WebRangers, a program supported by the Best Buy Children’s Foundation through the National Park Foundation.

Here are the national park units taking part in National Train Day activities:

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri

Trails & Rails on-board education program on one of the Missouri corridor trains and the St. Louis to Kansas City route. Illinois Trails & Rails program from St. Louis either to Springfield, Illinois or Chicago.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Oakland, California

In partnership with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, interactive children’s displays and Trails & Rails and area national parks information at the Los Angeles Union Station. Trails & Rails on-board education program on the Coast Starlight train between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, California.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Model trains display and children’s activities at Edmonds, Washington, depot.

Mississippi River National Recreation Area, St. Paul, Minnesota

Trails & Rails and area national parks information at Chicago Union Station. The traveling Trails & Rails display will be set up here.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, New Orleans

National Train Day program on Friday, May 9th at the park visitor center. Volunteer Bob Foy will have information about regional Amtrak routes and the park-sponsored Trails & Rails program aboard the City of New Orleans. The program culminates with a performance of train songs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. by the musical rangers, Bruce Barnes and Matt Hampsey.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio

Historic maps display including old railroad maps.

Saratoga National Historical Park and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

Trails & Rails and area national parks information at New York’s Penn Station. Trails & Rails volunteers will be on-board trains Saturday offering commentary of the region‘s history and attractions: Train 63 Albany to Syracuse, Train 71 New York to Westport, Train 49 New York to Albany, Train 285 New York to Albany, Train 236 Albany to New York, Train 286 Albany to New York.