365 days of celebration


National Train Day

Posted by Brittany

National Train DayNational Train Day is celebrated on the Saturday closest to May 10th, the anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. The railway has changed a lot since the Golden Spike was pounded that day in Promontory, Utah, and Amtrak created National Train Day to spread information about its history and the advantages of travel by train. May 7, 2011 is the fourth annual National Train Day, with events held at train museums and Amtrak stations across the country.

Chris and I live only an hour or so from Washington, D.C., which gives us access to several different methods of public transportation. Our home isn’t far from one of the stops for the Virginia Railway Express (VRE), and we work very close to the end of D.C. Metrorail’s blue line. And, once you make it into Washington D.C., there are other train options as well, such as services from Amtrak, MARC, and commuter trains. In spite of all these travel options, the only railway service I’ve ever ridden has been the D.C. Metro (unless you want to count the monorail running through Walt Disney World). But I love the idea of taking a train on a long distance trip. In fact, I had started to give more consideration to traveling by bus or train for some future vacations (especially after driving from Northern Virginia to New Orleans once, and Northern Virginia to central Texas twice) but instead I’ve been working on conquering my fear of flying. Still, sometimes flying isn’t worth the hassle with shorter distances, so I hope to get the opportunity to see some countryside via railway — who knows, maybe I’ll take a trip on Amtrak’s proposed Next-Gen High-Speed Rail Super Express if it materializes. At an average of 220 mph, the Super Express would carry passengers from D.C. to New York in a mere 96 minutes!

To celebrate today’s holiday Chris and I, along with my parents, traveled to the National Train Day event in Washington, D.C. Our adventure began on the railway as we rode the metrorail from Springfield, VA into Union Station in D.C., the location for the annual event. Union Station is visited by approximately 32 million people every year, but until today I had never been one of them. The gigantic terminal is filled with shops and restaurants, houses Amtrak’s headquarters, and offers services from Amtrak, MARC, VRE, and the D.C. metro. When it opened in 1907 it was an architectural masterpiece and, thanks to restoration efforts made in the late 1980s, it is once again a beautiful part of Washington D.C.’s infrastructure. The main hall is lined with marble floors, and the vaulted ceilings shelter classical statues and shimmering gold leaf.

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