National Train Day: The Platform to Fun

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Photo credit: Jamestown Gateway Train Station
Photo credit: Jamestown Gateway Train Station

Article Contributed by
Katrina Fuller

A remarkable structure stands in Downtown Jamestown as a testament to transit, inviting the masses to share in the excitement of the railroad. Clad in grey stone and a sense of historical importance, the words “Erie Railroad” are carved above the door, reminding visitors of its incredible past.

The recently renovated Jamestown Gateway Train Station is a community treasure, reminding the area residence of a past era, as well as new beginnings. On May 10th, 2014, the station will open its doors in celebration of National Train Day, providing hours of entertainment, education, and good old fashioned fun.
National Train Day began in 2008, started by Amtrak, as a special way to celebrate trains and inform the public about the importance of the railway. Lee Harkness, the station’s General Manager, has a full itinerary of train-centered activities on the agenda, bringing a one of a kind experience to the area.

“The entire station will be open for inspection – they can come right in,” he says with a grin. “We’re encouraging people to dress in turn of the century wear.” Harkness says he will be in a tuxedo for this momentous occasion. A prize will be given for the best costume, creating more of a festive feel for the event. As the second event of its kind in Jamestown, NY, this celebration is chocked full of informative displays, entertainment, and more. “This is an event that adds to what’s happening in Jamestown.”

Photo credit: Jamestown Gateway Train Station
Photo credit: Jamestown Gateway Train Station

The doors will open at 10 am, giving visitors a chance to view the building and take in a variety of exhibits. The rescued Trolley #93 will be on display, courtesy of Bob Johnson, the kind-hearted soul who was key in its restoration. At 11:30 am, the ‘Speeder’ cars will make their arrival, bringing a flash of charm to the tracks. Speeder cars are one or two passenger cars used to provide maintenance services and scope out potential problems. At 1 p.m., these tiny work trains will trundle off to Corry, making room for a larger engine.

“At 1:30, a steam engine will arrive, and it will be here for an hour and a half,” Harkness announces. “At 3 o’clock, the steam engine will leave and go east to Falconer.” At 3:45 p.m., the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad will bring in a complete passenger train. Visitors will be given the chance to view the train and ask their personnel questions. From 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., a cocktail reception complete with entertainment, food, and cash bar will be held on the train, providing a unique experience. “That will be by reservation only – space is limited,” Harkness explains.

Another exciting addition to the line-up is railroad expert and author, Kenneth C. Springirth. He will be unveiling his new book, “Jamestown to Buffalo by Trolley”, an intriguing exploration of the trolley lines between Jamestown and Buffalo. Springirth will be available for the duration of the event to display his operational train set, sign copies of his newest book, and provide a wealth of information to the public.

“This is an important event,” the expert railroad author explains. “It shows the outstanding job of preserving history your city has done – your city deserves an A plus!” A railroad enthusiast, Springirth is eager to showcase the beauty that is the Jamestown Gateway Train Station, as well as the importance of railways in today’s society. “This is going to be a premier event: in this tri-state region, there is no other event that is on the same level.”

The Jamestown Gateway Train Station is located at 211 – 217 West Second Street in Jamestown, NY. To make reservations for the cocktail reception or for more information on the event, call 716-483-3041. For more background, information on events, and more, visit jamestowntrainstation.com. Take a trip down to the train station, enjoy the festivities, and step on the platform to fun!