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Arriving on Track 1, St. Paul’s Train Days, April 30 and May 1
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Arriving on Track 1, St. Paul’s Train Days, April 30 and May 1

by Michael BeenerApril 30, 2016

Union Depot in St. Paul will host two fun-filled, jam-packed Train Days, April 30 – May 1, offering an array of railroad-themed treats including historic locomotives, model train displays, train merchandise, kids’ activities, special ticketed events and free educational sessions.

The Amtrak® Exhibit Train, showcasing the past, present and future of America’s Railroad®, will roll into Union Depot for free tours as part of Union Depot Train Days, marking the first time the special train has been in Minnesota since its inception.

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In addition, life-size railroad equipment will be on display, giving train enthusiasts a glimpse into the region’s passenger and freight railroads’ past and insight into how both shaped the future of transportation. Visitors will have the opportunity see several railroad giants on display for the first time at Union Depot including: Great Northern Railway SDP40 No. 325; Northern Pacific Railway Post Office/Combine Car No. 1102; the 1950s era Soo Line FP7 No. 2500A; and a Twin Cities & Western modern, short line freight railroad locomotive. The popular steam engine Milwaukee Road Steam Locomotive No. 261 also will be returning for this year’s Train Days.

Also new this year, Train Days will feature a variety of free activities for all ages including the Chuggington® Kids Depot with train-themed activities based on the popular children’s animated television series on Disney Junior; a large 40 X 40 foot MN Free-MO Modular Railroading exhibit; and a large-scale, steam model Soo Line passenger locomotive. Among the many favorite, returning activities will be exhibits by Operation Life Saver and the National Park Service.

Another new feature for Union Depot’s 2016 Train Days will be vendors selling a wide variety of railroad-themed books, photographs, sketches, model railroad supplies and train memorabilia.

On the morning of April 30, three railroad professionals and photographers will conduct free educational sessions to discuss their personal experiences with the privately-operated passenger trains that operated out of Union Depot through the early 1970s. These new public sessions will be held in the Veterans Gallery. The presenters include Willmar native Gary Nelson, who will discuss his experiences working for the Great Northern Railway passenger trains; Charles B. McCreary, who will discuss and show his photographs of the trains of the Union Depot in the 1940s and 1950s; and Byron D. Olsen, who will describe his experiences photographing and riding trains out of Union Depot in the 1960s and 1970s.

In addition, several new ticketed events have been added to Train Days, including a night photography opportunity and multi-media shows by well-known railroad photographers.

May 1 also will mark the opening of Lowertown Bike Shop at Union Depot, further demonstrating the variety of transportation modes available at the depot. The new Lowertown Bike Shop will offer a bike repair shop and indoor bike storage facility with shower services on the lower level of the Head House. In addition, the Lowertown Bike retail shop will be located on the main level of the Head House in Suite 160. The new bike/walk trail from Union Depot to the RailView Picnic Area also will open this weekend.

During Union Depot Train Days, visitors can also enjoy a free ride on a vintage bus to the Minnesota Transportation Museum (MTM) in St. Paul. Those who stop by the MTM booth and take the free shuttle will receive a discounted ticket to the museum.

For more information about Union Depot Train Days, visit http://www.uniondepot.org/traindays/.

Drawing of the equipment featured on the Amtrak Exhibit Train. Courtesy of Amtrak.

Drawing of the equipment featured on the Amtrak Exhibit Train. Courtesy of Amtrak.

About The Author
Michael Beener
Michael Beener