Springfield, Mass., July 9 and 10
1976 Diner car interior.
The china will be familiar to
visitors to the Exhibit Train!Massachusetts joined with us in 1972 to support rail service from Boston to Springfield via Worcester. Springfield remains a busy rail hub that serves a number of Amtrak trains—the Lake Shore Limited, Vermonter, Northeast Regionals, and the “Shuttle” that runs through the Connecticut River Valley between the city and New Haven. Freight trains from CSX, Connecticut Southern and PanAm Railways also ply the busy corridor through Springfield, and railfans gather at the station on weekends to photograph their favorite locomotives, record and tally the types of freight and passenger cars, and discuss all things railroading. Throughout the weekend, we spied freight trains that briefly paused so that their crews could snap a few shots of the Exhibit Train.
With the sun shining and a gentle breeze blowing, I helped staff a table on the platform with a selection of brochures and booklets about Amtrak routes and vacation packages. Many people stopped by to ask, “How can I get from here to x?” Pulling out the national system map, we traced possible routes and looked at the timetables. For those heading to the West Coast, the gorgeous scenery was paramount in choosing the right train—with mountains, prairies, and deserts, there’s certainly something for everyone! Our stop partners included the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Big E (the Eastern States Exposition), and their representatives handed out information on what to do and see in the area.
Early Amfleet passenger cars had
bright red seats.I spent most of Sunday walking through the Display Cars answering questions and chatting with the visitors. Although I have gone through the Exhibit Train dozens of times, I always notice something new. It’s said that quality is in the details, and that thought struck me as I studied the seats that are on display. While seats may not sound too exciting, their coverings definitely are. Changing patterns and colors represent shifts in fashion that captured the mood of each decade.
In the 1970s, passengers on western long distance routes got cozy in seats with “Southwestern” motifs that included geometric patterns in rich earth tones such as browns, oranges and tans, with a little blue thrown in for an added visual punch. In the 1980s, seats were covered in a sleek combo of leather and striped fabric in powerful reds that demanded attention. Cars used in California were redone in the 1990s to include seats that incorporated relaxing blue tones and a wave pattern that represents the ocean—rather appropriate on seaside routes such as the San Diegan (now the Surfliner) and the Coast Starlight. It’s these little details—often unnoticed—that give the various routes their distinctive character.
Well, it’s said that the railroad never stops—which means that we’re on our way south to New Haven where Amtrak meets the busy Metro North and Shore Line East commuter railroads. Can’t wait to visit the Elm City—see you there from 10-4 on Saturday and Sunday!