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Home > Blog > Exhibit Train Blog, 2011-2012 > St. Louis, Mo., September 10 and 11

St. Louis, Mo., September 10 and 11

Posted by admin at Sep 15, 2011 01:05 PM |
Long shaped by the Mississippi River, St. Louis also has its fair share of railroad history; therefore, it was a great place to start the Midwestern leg of our tour.
Exhibit Train Arrives at St. Louis Gateway Station
The famous St. Louis Gateway Arch
Greeting Visitors in the Breezeway

The Exhibit Train Arrives at the
St. Louis Gateway Station

Taking in the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch.

Greeting Visitors in the Breezeway.

Welcome to the Exhibit Train!
Getting on board in St. Louis
Old and new soaring togethere

Welcome to the Exhibit Train!

Getting on board in St. Louis.

Old and new soaring together.

The waning days of summer bring change to our lives: big yellow school buses make their rounds, the pace of life seems to pick up, and a crisp coolness permeates the night air. The Exhibit Train bid farewell to the Northeast and set a new course to enjoy fall in the Midwest. What better way to celebrate the move westward than to have the famous Gateway Arch as our backdrop in St. Louis? Walking through the first Display Car, a careful observer might spot the memorial—then only a decade old—on the front cover of a 1977 brochure for the National Limited, an early Amtrak train that ran between New York and Kansas City via St. Louis. After we wrapped up Saturday afternoon, we took a ride to the top of the arch to enjoy the spectacular views of the Mississippi River Valley.

National Limited Guide, 1977
National Limited
Guide from 1977
We had a great crew helping us run the event at the recently opened Gateway Transportation Center, an intermodal facility located a few blocks southeast of the former Union Station. About half of the volunteers were drawn from the Trails and Rails program based out of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Most days, they hop on board the Lincoln Service between St. Louis and Springfield, Ill. to talk with riders about topics including Presidents Lincoln and Grant, regional American Indian groups, Route 66, and the Louisiana Purchase. They use their extensive knowledge to tailor their presentation to the audience.

Many of the other volunteers can often be found one stop away in the charming town of Kirkwood, Mo. They are part of a volunteer group that staffs the community’s picturesque stone station, which was built in 1893 and features a prominent curving bay with a turret. Ties to the railroad have always been strong, and the town takes its name from James Pugh Kirkwood, once the chief engineer of the Pacific Railroad. Station volunteers meet and greet passengers, beautify the landscaping, provide tourist information, and run a lending library for regular train riders. In 2004, Amtrak recognized the group’s work with a special “Champion of the Rails” award.

Near the Exhibit Train, representatives from the St. Louis Museum of Transportation were on hand to distribute information about their institution, which sprawls over more than 100 acres southwest of downtown. Its all-encompassing collection includes locomotives, automobiles, buses, streetcars, aircraft, horse-drawn vehicles, and riverboats that are used to explain changes in transportation technology and design. Railroad enthusiasts often marvel at Union Pacific #4006; known as a "Big Boy," it is one of the largest steam locomotives ever built.

It’s said that the railroad never stops, especially true when it comes to keeping the equipment running smoothly. We’ll be at our own Beech Grove, Ind. maintenance facility this coming weekend for a special employee event, but hope to see you on the 24th and 25th in Galesburg, Ill.!