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Americans to Ride the Rails in Song, Sound and Story


Let's say you love to travel by bus – so much so that you think a National Bus Day would be a great idea. But really, now, would throngs of people come together to study old photographs, hear and sing bus music, listen to bus-storytellers, wear bus driver hats, and tour motor coaches?

National Automobile Day would probably take a while to catch on, too. We may be a car-loving culture, but crowded superhighways have taken some of the romance out of the road. Nor is air travel much celebrated in these days of high prices and overbooked planes. Streetcars have a certain charm, but the old ones are hard to find outside museums.

But May 10 will be the country's very real, and very first, National Train Day, and although long-distance train travel seems as rare as an Old West stagecoach ride these days, trains hold an entirely different, and special, place in our heart.

We still love to hear their whistles, to watch them cross the plain, and feel the sway and hear the clackety-clack beneath our feet every chance we get to ride the rails.

There's a whole genre of Americans called railfans, more than 100,000 of whom subscribe to a monthly magazine about trains. Dozens of old-time steam-driven trains still chug past scenic vistas. And an estimated 300,000 Americans set aside a big chunk of their homes for intricate miniature train layouts they've painstakingly put together. Not many bus-lovers do that!

So we're pretty sure huge crowds will be – to borrow a train expression – all aboard! when America celebrates the train at big terminals in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington about three weeks from now.

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