See the Amtrak Archives Up CloseComments
April 22, 2014
The Amtrak Exhibit Train, which tells the story of Amtrak’s creation and advancement through artifacts, memorabilia and interactive exhibits, recently kicked off its 2014 tour. The Exhibit Train was created in 2011 to celebrate the company’s four decades as the nation’s primary intercity passenger rail operator. That milestone also prompted the creation of the Amtrak Archives and this website.
While you can enjoy interesting photographs, posters, menus and other items on History.Amtrak.com, the traveling Exhibit Train gives you a chance to see a selection of objects up close and in person. The main displays are housed in former Santa Fe Baggage cars from the 1950s that were refurbished at our principal heavy maintenance facility in Beech Grove, Ind. Employees with specialties in metalwork, electrical systems and other crafts transformed the interiors into bright and welcoming spaces.
A female mannequin dressed in a vintage passenger service representative uniform, complete with white go-go boots, greets visitors as they enter the first car. You can admire colorful, evocative advertising posters by famed graphic designer David Klein, see a pair of Superliner seats covered in their original Southwestern-inspired and study china patterns used on long-distance trains. Rail fans young and old especially love the model trains depicting typical consists from the early “Rainbow” era to today.
Further along, a large wall-mounted display explores the evolution of station design and highlights the varied architecture found along the rails, from romantic Spanish colonial revival to Beaux-Arts grandeur to sleek mid-century modern—which is now gaining new admirers thanks to television shows like Mad Men.
Kids especially love hearing the horns. Kids gravitate to the horn display, where they can push buttons to hear different melodies Amtrak has used for its SDP40F, F-40, E-60, AEM-7 and P-42 locomotives. You usually see kids covering their ears until they realize the sound isn’t too loud!
Other displays include a mock-up of a new Viewliner II Roomette, an engineer’s stand and information about Amtrak’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Throughout the cars, video screens let visitors try their hand at Amtrak trivia or explore sleeping accommodations on our Superliner and Viewliner cars. In the Bistro car, which now serves as a gift shop, you can even spot an old Railfone in an alcove.