Streets Weekend: Hooray! Hooray! May 11 is National Train Day!

Minnesota Rail Heritage

Photo by Mike Hicks

Saturday, May 11 is National Train Day. In the past, I wrote a post about local train-related activities for the wee ones and their posse of elders. Today, there are a number of local activities of interest to rail fanatics, kids, and the curious to celebrate National Train Day.

Amtrak has a National Train Day web site with info on activities, as well as highlights on why trains matter. The event is a national commemoration of the May 10, 1869, meeting of the Union and Central Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit, Utah, which compled America’s first transcontinental railroad. None of Minnesota’s local events are listed on said web site, so we here at Streets.MN are here to help you plan your day.

This is what’s going down in Minnesota for National Train Day:

  • Union Depot, St. Paul: Free family activities from 11am-4PM. The author of the new book “St. Paul Union Depot” will give a presentation and sign copies of his tome. There will also be bounce houses and music, trackless train rides, plus free buMilwaukee Road 261s rides to the Minnesota Transportation Museum.
  • Minnesota Transportation Museum, St. Paul: Free bus rides to Union Depot (see above). Also, the Bacon Trolley will be on hand to sell food, plus kids can decorate train cookies. The usual museum experiences will also be open ($), including caboose rides on a vintage caboose.
  • Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Duluth: Train rides both Saturday and Sunday on restored equipment ($). Free Golden Spikes for first 50 families Saturday. Various family fun activities alongside the usual museum experiences.
  • Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum, St. Paul: The TCMRM will be holding its annual annual Spring Fairgrounds Hobby Show and Sale at the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights ($). Show will feature the museum’s traveling Thomas the Tank Engine layout, various other layouts, and collectors and vendors selling, swapping and trading model railroad paraphernalia. Admission to the show includes an admit to the TCMRM at Bandana Square for the rest of the day.
  • Milwaukee Road 261 Excursion from Minneapolis to Duluth: The Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 will be making a steam run from Minneapolis to Duluth on May 11-12. Tickets have been sold out for a long time, but if you want to see someone fire up the 261, you can certainly watch. It leaves at 9AM from Minneapolis Junction, and will be passing through the Northtown Yard on route north.
  • National Train Day Winona: National Train Day festivities will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Winona Amtrak station. The day will include a presentation about Winona’s railroad history (free!).

You can also just load the kids up and hop on the Hiawatha light rail line for a jaunt. Kids love trains.

There may certainly be other events I have not uncovered; the lack of listings on Amtrak’s official site is less than helpful. If you know of any additional events, load them right into the comments below.

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!