The third annual National Train Day, hosted by Amtrak, kicks off on Friday, May 7, with a ceremony at New York’s Penn Station. Actor and railroad enthusiast Taye Diggs (star of “Private Practice”) will turn on an “edible trainscape made from elaborate confections and moving model trains” created by Carlo’s Bakery (the setting for the series “Cake Boss” on The Learning Channel), inspired by National Train Day artwork and featuring Bachmann model rolling stock.
National Train Day “commemorates the 141st anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad’s inception by bringing to life the rich narrative of how trains transformed America,” the event’s organizers say. Large-scale, family-friendly events will be held in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles on May 8. Amtrak will host these free events, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at its stations in these cities. Each event will feature live entertainment, interactive and educational exhibits, childrens’ entertainment, model train displays, and tours of private railroad cars, Amtrak equipment, and freight and commuter rail equipment:
• Taye Diggs Kicks Off National Train Day (Washington, D.C.). Diggs will be on hand at Union Station in Washington, D.C. to kick off the National Train Day celebration and will be available for a meet-and-greet with fans during the day.
• Baseball Junction: The History of Baseball and the American Railroad (Philadelphia 30th Street Station) . Attendees can learn about the history of train travel relative to baseball from an exhibit showcasing memorabilia, photos, and video.
• The Blues Journey and Connection to the Railroad (Chicago Union Station). Train travel played an important role in the emergence of blues as a major American art form and the development and migration of the sound from the Mississippi Delta to the north. Big Bill and Larry Morganfield, the sons of celebrated blues musician Muddy Waters, will be joined by Mississippi Delta blues musician Bobby Rush to perform train-themed blues songs. This will be the last stop in a five-state tour aboard Amtrak, originating in Muddy Waters‘ birthplace in Mississippi. The Chicago Blues Museum will also display a special blues exhibit at the station with a brief historical presentation by the museum‘s curator, Gregg Parker.
• Railroad Braceros: A Mexican Legacy (Los Angeles Union Station). During World War II, thousands of Mexicans came to the U.S. under a guest worker program called “Railroad Braceros” to build and maintain the nation‘s passenger railroad system. An exhibit will honor the Hispanic contributions to the national railroad. Steve Velasquez, associate curator, National Museum of American History, will present on the Braceros and their role in railroad history.
National Train Day interactive exhibits include “Trains Move our Economy,” “Go-Green Express Eco Exhibit,” “National Park Service Trails & Rails,” and “Snapshot Photo Station.” Amtrak exhibits include “Dining the Rail Way” and “AmtraKids Depot,” plus equipment displays and model trains.
For more information about National Train Day, visit www.nationaltrainday.com.