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National Train Day 2009
A Photo Essay by Carl Morrison,
I liked the saying on the right of the inside of the post card cover (above) that was in the goodie bag they gave all guests:

The fascination starts when you're young.  A train appears in the distance and your mind races, who are the passengers, where are they going and why?  You feel the thythm of the wheels moving powerfully in sync like a heartbeat and believe a train is surely something more than a machine.  And you're right.  Trains are alive with stunning scenery, easy camaraderie and the space and time to simply be.  You've imagined it.  Now experience it.


I'm proud to say I've traveled on The City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited, The Empire Builder, and my local favorite, Coast Starlight.

Also, as yet without a post card of its own, I've ridden the California Zephyr.  As for the Sunset Limited, Crescent, Lakeshore Limited, Silver Service, and the Auto Train, I guess you could say, "I still have some things to look forward to."

BannerLeftSmall.jpgA group of us for our Train Travel Meetup took the Pacific Surfliner from Fullerton to Los Angeles Union Station for National Train Day.  One draw was the ability to get quadruple points for our Amtrak Rewards Accounts.

Festivities began at 10 a.m. in LAUS, but we decided to board the 8:15 train in Fullerton and arrive 35 minutes later at the station to perhaps get a few shots before the crowds arrived.

Earlier Press Releases advertised the following activities:

Discover the Rail Way on National Train Day

Join Amtrak in celebration of America's love for rail travel during the second annual National Train Day. Come enjoy an experience for the whole family: live musical entertainment by Matt Costa and Chana, as well as numerous educational and interactive displays about the past, present and future of train travel.

Event Details:
May 9, 2009, 10 am - 3 pm
Union Station
800 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Train enthusiasts will enjoy an interactive Eco Exhibit, displays of model railroads as well as real Amtrak and historic train cars, paintings from notable train artist, J. Craig Thorpe and more. Bring the young ones to the Amtrakids Depot for educational hands-on activities, appearances by Radio Disney's Rockin' Road Crew, magicians and face painters. Amtrak employees, such as train engineers and conductors, will also be on hand to answer questions

From the Press Kit: 

National Fact Sheet: FY 2008  (Click to view .pdf file)

Energy Efficient Travel Fact Sheet (Click to view .doc file)

State of California, Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2008 (Click to view .pdf file)

Upon our arrival at LAUS on the Pacific Surfliner, we stepped off and saw some rolling stock positioned for guests to tour.  Not open yet, we left the cars and continued on into the station.

UP Switcher and Amtrak Rolling Stock
Parlour Car from the Coast Starlight
Four of us crowded into the Red Cap's cart, with some Coast Starlight passengers for a ride into the station.

Through the tunnel under the 12 tracks, it was clear where the celebration was going to take place, with many directional signs.

We found out quickly that an orange shirt meant a Supervisor of the blue shirt group who manned many Amtrak booths.  Tom soon removed his orange shirt to avoid being hastled by questions.
The TRAXX Club near the front of the LA Station is a waiting area for sleeper car passengers on the Coast Starlight.  This board displays daily information for the travellers.


The waiter on the Coast Starlight sign at the Traxx Club was nicknamed, "Preston."
Entrance to the original Harvey House, south of the  the Lobby.

There was a large model railroad setup.

Right, paintings from notable train artist, J. Craig Thorpe.  Click here for his Biography.
A favorite train and location of mine:  Empire Builder and East Glacier Station.


In the former ticketing area, a stage was set up for live entertainment.
A group provides tours of Union Station, for both adults and youths, which I'd like to partake of one day.

They have the following tours:  Union Station, Downtown Renaissance, Broadway Historic Theatre District, Biltmore Hotel, Angelino Heights, Historic Core, Evolving Skyline, Art Deco.

GO to  213-623-2489

Union Station Tours are the 3rd Saturday ea. month, including the 1939 station, Metro Station, MTA building, and experience the Art Deco and Spanish Revival architectural styles.
The first time I had seen Matt Melzer, Executive Director of Depot Inn & Suites and Silver Rails Resort, since we were in Pullman, IL, together.

My report about Pullman is at:

Inside the original Harvey House.
Some kids activities were planned inside.


Since this was my first time ever inside the former Harvey House at LAUS, I was very pleased to see that it had not deteriorated like other Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe route.
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Glad to see a Harvey Girls display in front of the Harvey House, I didn't now there was an organization like that here in LA.  They also had brochures of 'Women in Railroading.'

The 'Store' was in a booth where they used to rent video machines for long-distance trains.

Right, National Train Day and the 70-year old LA Union Station.
A booth honoring the 100,000 Mexican RR workers who worked in the US during WWII.

Pacific Railroad Society's booth was well covered.  Ken Ruben, left, made sure I had a copy of their newsletter 'Wheel Clicks'  Their website:  They have a new book:  The Amazing Journey of Santa Fe's RDC Cars by Ed Saalig

They were taking photos which they placed in kid-type trains, of course Tom and I took advantage of the opportunity.

I didn't have to push too many kids out of the way to have my picture taken (left).
Back to Disney's Christmas Carol traveling train.

Inside one of the 2 cars on the Christmas Carol Train.

The Patron Tequila Express, right and below,  is owned by John Paul DeJoria, who owns the Patron Spirits Company. Car #50 was built in 1927, and it’s decked out in intricate wood carvings and original 14th-century Gothic art. DeJoria uses it for personal travel (the train has hosted the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Clark Gable, and Huey P. Long) and for promotional events for Patron.  De Joria and his friend Dan Ackroyd (the penultimate train expert and Patron's Canadian distributor) frequently invited friends and dignitaries onboard to enjoy a glass of Patron on the train's outdoor deck, watching the American countryside pass by. The train has recently returned to its home station in Los Angeles after a cross country adventure to host private parties for guests at both the 2008 Democratic and Republican Conventions.

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The Overland Trail, based in Los Angeles, was another private car available for touring.  The Overland Trail is the former Southern Pacific 2981, a club-lounge car, built in 1949 by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company.   Their website:  An excellent article about Bill Hatrick and the Overland Trail, "On the Trail with Conductor Bill" starts on page 18 of Issue 125 of Private Varnish, the magazine of privately owned railroad passenger cars.

Bill welcomes guests and describes the car as the unique onboard barber shop conducts business (right).

Not a bad job when you have Marilyn Monroe watching your back!
What caught every guests' attention was the hostess in the car with the authentic, timely hair styling!  Could this be one of Bill and Debbie's daughters who I used to see peeking over the serving bar?

Bill and Debbie had some nice displays in the car.

You can ride in this car.  Bill and Debbie have trips that they sell by the seat.  In Private Varnish they are advertising a June 13, 2009, San Diego Troop Train trip.  Join the Los Angeles/Orange County, CA, to San Diego and return trip, or San Diego to Los Angeles and return. 

Email:, or call 714-546-6923 or 800-539-7245.

The Scottish Thistle was also on display, with owner Dean answering questions.  In Private Varnish, he too has Rail Excursions on which you can book passage.  Namely a June 3-4, 2009, "Bargain Hunters:  Ride the Scottish Thistle south!  Seattle to Los Angeles."  EMail:  or call 714-544-5779.  Photos below:


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Dean McCormick

Santa Fe No. 3751 a Pioneer 4-8-4, was scheduled to take an excursion to San Diego on the following day, but it had been cancelled for lack of participation.  Therefore, I was surprised, and delighted, to see her here at National Train Day.   No. 3751 saw regular service from 1927 to 1953. It now belongs to the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society and is a fully restored and working steam locomotive.

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Steamed up and ready to go.


There were examples of all the Amtrak Long-Distance Trains available for walk through.


Sightseer Lounge Car
Train Day attendees who have visited the face painting booth.

Lower-level Kitchen with Chef preparing sample meals.
Other half of the kitchen - freezers and dish washing area.
Back upstairs, in the service area, the ticket drop for the orders on the left.
Examples of breakfast meals available in the diner.

Lunch diner items.
Dinner menu samples
Pacific Parlour Car, available only on the Coast Starlight for sleeping car passengers.
Alternative dining is available in the Parlour Car as well.

Lunch in the Parlour Car.
Seating is 2 per table as opposed to 4 per table in the DIner.

Breakfast in the Parlour Car.
Wine Tasting with cheese and crackers is available each afternoon in the Parlour Car.  $5 for Sleeper passengers, $10 for coach passengers.  Full bottles of wine in the Parlour Car are about the same price as 1/2 bottles in the Diner.

Next was a sleeper car.  This is a Roomette made up for day travel.

There is also a Bedrooom choice, upstairs, and two other room types downstairs - an Accessible Room and a Family Bedroom.

We headed back into the station, passing a "Go Green" Amtrak mascot, right.
We walked across the street to Olvera Street for Lunch.
The weather was perfect for a lunch outside, in the shade.

Heading back to the station, we could see the front door to Union Station, still looking good at age 70.
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We relaxed an hour in the TRAXX Bar before walking through the great hall to our  Southboung Pacific Surfliner, which took us 35 minutes back to Fullerton.

A very nice day.  I'm glad such enjoyable activities were planned at the LA Station so we could enjoy them only a 35-minute ride from our home station.

NTDSticker.jpgReturning home after National Train Day in Los Angeles Union Station, I had an e-mail from Susan Lipman.  She wrote a blog entry about National Train Day that really captures the flavor of train travel and turning frustrations into positives when traveling by rail.  Her professionally written

All Aboard: Happy National Train Day


You'll find some great gifts for Mom, Wife, or Yourself at her website as well.  Enjoy her complete blog at:

In case anyone asks, yes I am a Rail Fan:


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