National Train Day
National Train Day is a holiday started by Amtrak in 2008 as a method to spread information to the general public about the advantages of rail travel and the history of trains in the United States. It is held each year on the Saturday closest to May 10, the anniversary of the pounding of the Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah which marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad within the United States. Events are held at Amtrak stations as well as railroad museums across the country and often have passenger cars and model railroad layouts on display. The largest events usually take place in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA.
The National Association of Railroad Passengers, the largest non-profit rail advocacy organization in America, announced that their members would be celebrating the first National Train Day in 2008. Many other non-profits participated regionally.
In 2015, it was announced that the community program called National Train Day would be replaced by a company sponsored event called Amtrak Train Days. The format changed from multiple events on a single day in many cities to individual events over the course of the spring, summer and fall.
Types of events
The major events of National Train Day usually consist of equipment displays in the major stations across the Amtrak system. This includes Acela and Keystone sets in the Northeastern cities, and Superliner cars in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Florida that are used on long distance trains in those regions. In addition, many private cars are also put on display. Other large cities featured rail equipment and displays from freight railroads, transit agencies, non-profit rail organizations and historical societies as part of National Train Day. Some smaller events consisted of a model train layout from a local club or other train-related items on display.
Because of a scheduling conflict on the original National Train Day in 2008, Toledo Union Station hosted their NTD event a week before the rest of the country in 2008. This tradition of having the 'first' Train Day has continued every year since at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza Amtrak and intermodal station.
Besides events at active Amtrak stations, railway history museums participate in National Train Day as well. This often includes tours of historic rail cars and excursion train rides.
The 2011 event celebrated Amtrak's 40th Anniversary celebration, as the company first went into service on May 1, 1971.
In 2013, Duluth, Minnesota hosted one of the largest events, having steam locomotives Milwaukee Road 261 and Soo Line 2719 operating on the North Shore Scenic Railroad, as well as large museum displays and events.
Every National Train Day through 2012 featured an official celebrity spokesperson who appears at a single event.
2008: Al Roker, television weatherman and actor
2010: Taye Diggs, actor
Celebrity spokespersons for NTD events were discontinued in advance of the 2013 event.
- "Amtrak readies for National Train Day". USA Today. May 4, 2008.
- "NARP to Celebrate National Train Day". May 7, 2008.
- "Amtrak Announces Amtrak Train Days Tour And Exhibit Train Locations" (PDF) (Press release). Washington, D.C.: Amtrak. April 8, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
- "National Train Day Toledo". www.facebook.com.
- "National Train Day at Danbury Railway Museum". www.CTVisit.com.
- "'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro presents train cake at Penn Station". NJ.com.