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Home > Blog > Exhibit Train Blog, 2011-2012 > Boston, Mass., August 6 and 7

Boston, Mass., August 6 and 7

Posted by admin at Aug 15, 2011 11:05 AM |
For many people, summer is the perfect time to escape on a vacation and relax for a few days. Vintage route guides and vacation brochures on the Exhibit Train provide an interesting glimpse into our changing travel habits over the past 40 years.
Boston's South station is a busy place
Hanging sign in Boston South's main hall
Partners at the Exhibit Train Stop

Boston's South station is a busy place.

Hanging sign in Boston South's main hall.

Partners at the Exhibit Train stop

Greeting visitors at the Exhibit Train in Boston
Two of our Amtrak volunteers, Nicole and Colin, smile for the camera
A buff's-eye view of Boston's famous Solari board

Greeting visitors
at the Exhibit Train in Boston

Two of our Amtrak volunteers,
Nicole and Colin, smile for the camera

A buff's-eye view of Boston's
famous Solari board

On just about any day, South Station’s Main Hall buzzes like a beehive, and on Saturday and Sunday we found ourselves at its humming center. Amid the cafes and shops, we set up a table with Amtrak Vacations booklets, timetables, route guides, and other trip planning materials. We were also joined by numerous stop partners, including the Mystic Valley Railway Society, Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, Operation Lifesaver, and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Those first two groups help promote America’s rich rail heritage by offering talks and presentations on railroad history. Mass Bay also arranges rail excursions throughout the region, and many of its tours include vintage locomotives and cars that offer a glimpse into the evolution of rail travel. It’s always inspiring to see rail fans come together to learn from one another, have a good time, and share their passion with the general public.

Boston is a perfect base for a rail enthusiast—as a major international port and financial center, it has long been a transportation hub. Just walking through the principal entrance of South Station is an uplifting experience, for the building is definitely one of the most beautiful and impressive rail facilities on the East Coast. Hanging from the ceiling of the Main Hall, the departure/arrival board beckons one to cities near and far.

How to decide where to go? Some of my favorite pieces on the Exhibit Train are the route guides. Beautiful drawings and gorgeous cover photos conjure up images of jagged, snow-capped mountain ranges, sunny and relaxing palm-lined beaches, lush farm fields with abundant cornstalks and golden wheat, and huge, remote desert landscapes. Far removed from the tedious worries and concerns of daily life, they are escapes made accessible by the steel rails.

Design aficionados will be drawn to the guides’ various color palettes, fonts, and layouts that reflect changing tastes and design theory over four decades. Rail fans will have fun trying to figure out exactly where some of the train shots were taken and identifying the locomotives and cars. Others will find it interesting to see how the routes have changed—which cities have been added to the schedules, and which ones dropped? What onboard services and comforts are advertised, and did the emphasis shift from one period to another? As for me, the guides just encourage my penchant for daydreaming about the next adventure, wherever it may take me. Not knowing for certain leaves room for mystery and surprise—anticipation is half the fun.

It’s said that the railroad never stops, which means that we’re on our way north to Freeport, Maine, a community eagerly awaiting the return of intercity passenger rail after more than half-a-century. See you there near the shores of Casco Bay!

Popular Eastern Routes Guide, 1973
Cresecent Guide, 1979
Sunset Limited Guide, 1973
National Limited Guide, 19773

"Popular Eastern Trains"
Guide from 1973

Cresecent Guide
from 1979

Sunset Limited Guide
from 1973

National Limited Guide
from 1977