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Exhibition of Amtrak History, Silver Rails Event Center Ribbon Cutting and Evening Gala

La Plata, Missouri, Rail Events on February 23, 2008

Report and Photographs by Carl Morrison.  Comments welcome at

If you are going to take a train from Southern California to La Plata, Missouri in February, there had better be some big festivities going on once you get there!  Let me assure you, there was plenty to do in the Missouri Tundra and, in this case, "Getting there is half the fun," isn't necessarily true.  Instead, I anticipated that "Being there is more than half the fun."

Amtrak likes to say, "The Journey is as Important as the Destination," maybe that's the balance I was looking for."

Why La Plata, Missouri?

La Plata, Missouri, is an Amtrak Southwest Chief stop between Chicago and Kansas City.  When I travel there I perfer to go on the Southwest Chief since the Depot Inn & Suites, in La Plata, MO, provides pickup and delivery of guests staying with them.  Also, the first stop east of Los Angeles is Fullerton, which is only a 20 minute drive from our home.  So, it is very convenient and enjoyable to travel through the great Southwest between California and Missouri on Amtrak.

Depot Inn & Suites, in December, in LaPlata, Missouri.

My first trip there was a December trip to report on the Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting of TrainParty new midwest location, and's 10th Anniversary, both formerly in Southern California.  I stayed at the train-themed Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, in the Sportsman Suite. (

My second trip there was an April trip to report on the Celebration of Chris Guenzler's reaching his Millionth Mile of Rail Travel.  I stayed at the Depot Inn & Suites on this trip also.  (

Yours truly interviewing a former telegraph operator who worked in the LaPlata Depot.
Chris Guenzler Million Mile Rail Travel Overlook.

Near LaPlata, in Marceline, MO, is the Boyhood Home of Walt Disney.

West of LaPlata is an Amish Store where many of the  Amish farmers in the area shop.  I enjoy talking with farmers since I was raised on a farm myself.

--Above 4 photos by Bob Williams.


Steve Grande of posted an online invitation ( as follows, concerning the festivities on February 23, 2008, in La Plata, Missouri:
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Three Big Events!!

1.  Ribbon Cutting of the "Exhibition of Amtrak History," 

2.  Ribbon Cutting of the "Silver Rails Event Center" and 

3.  "Silver Rails Event Center" Evening Gala!

These events will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2008, but the exact times may change. Since we know some people may be arriving on the morning Amtrak Southwest Chief, these events will be scheduled for the afternoon and evening. However, we suggest that you arrive the day before on Friday, February 22, 2008, so that you don't have to worry about missing anything even if your train runs exceptionally late.

Here is the tentative schedule:

1:30 PM Central Time:

Ribbon Cutting of the "Exhibition of Amtrak History"

This will take place in front of the 2 ex-Amtrak U.S.Mail Freight Cars that are on a special siding right next to the Depot Inn & Suites. A significant amount of Amtrak memorabilia will be on display inside these cars from almost every year of Amtrak's existence. This will include almost the entire collection of the Amtrak Historical Society, plus everything related to Amtrak that has been collected by itself, or donated to us by the many visitors to our website. The interior of the two railcars are heated, lighted, and have ramps for wheelchairs. The railcars will remain open to visitors from the time of the ribbon cutting until late evening.

3:30 PM Central Time:

Ribbon Cutting of the "Silver Rails Event Center"

This is the new event center in Downtown La Plata for business conferences, weddings, and other social events. Just like the Depot Inn & Suites, it will have a railroad theme throughout! Free shuttle service will be provided between the Depot Inn and Downtown La Plata for this event.

After the ribbon cutting, visitors will be able to walk through the Silver Rails Event Center and enjoy beverages and refreshments at the end of their walk through. This open house will run from about 3:30 PM until 5:00 PM. The shuttle will make a number of runs to get everyone to and from this event.

6:00 PM Central Time:

Silver Rails Event Center Evening Gala!

This will be the first Gala Event at the Silver Rails Event Center and will be held on the evening of its Grand Opening! This will be a suit and tie affair and will require the advance purchase of tickets, $15 per person to attend. Contact the hotel at 1-888-814-3669 to make your reservation and purchase tickets to this event. We expect seating to be limited to the first 400 that RSVP. Profits from ticket sales will go towards the Exhibition of Amtrak History. This Evening Gala is the ONLY fee event on this day. There is no charge to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies and walk-throughs of the Exhibition of Amtrak History and the Silver Rails Event Center held earlier the same day. There is also no fee for admission to the Exhibition of Amtrak History nor to spend as much time as you like watching trains at the newly enclosed and heated Chris Guenzler Millionth Mile Lookout Point by the BNSF mainline.

For those of you that will be visiting from out of town who chose not to attend the Evening Gala Event, the Depot Inn & Suites will be serving free snacks and beverages and playing railroad movies in the hotel conference room. The Exhibition of Amtrak History will remain open for the evening. Also, there will be a send-off gathering at the La Plata Amtrak Depot for the departure of Chris Guenzler and all others that may be departing on the westbound 8:06 PM Amtrak Southwest Chief Saturday evening.

Silver Rails Resort:

Currently, the most comprehensive report about the Silver Rails Resort project can be found in Raymond York's La Plata Trip Report. Click here now to view that trip report and additional details about the Silver Rails Resort project. These two new facilities are just the first steps in the building of the 160 acre Silver Rails Resort. A presentation about the entire project will be provided at some time during the day to be announced later.

Chris Guenzler Millionth Mile Lookout Point

For those of you that have not heard, the Chris Guenzler Millionth Mile Lookout Point is now enclosed and heated! You can now watch trains on the BNSF mainline from the enclosed comfort of the Lookout Point year round! A radio scanner built into the facility lets you listen in on all railroad radio communications while you are there. Click here for photos and more info about the lookout point.

Make Your Reservations Soon!

If you plan to attend, please make your reservations with the Depot Inn & Suites either by calling 1-888-814-3669 or online by clicking here. Space is filling up fast. You should make your reservation soon if you plan to attend.

This is just a preliminary description of events. More information will be posted later. Please check back!

We hope to see you there. Thank you!

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I took Steve's advice and made my Depot Inn & Suites reservation and secured a sleeping car accommodation (roomette) on the Southwest Chief  from Fullerton, California, to La Plata, Missouri, round trip.  Finally, I reserved two tickets for the Evening Gala.

Amtrak's new website, as of this writing, gives a nice list of reasons for Family Travel on Amtrak:

This same updated website, which refers to 'film' (hat is that?), called Whistle Stop, has some interesting stories (Why can't they have shorter URLs?):

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