|April 9, 2012
Chandler residents invited to celebrate National Train Day on May 12 at the Arizona Railway Museum in Tumbleweed Park
National Train Day on May 12, 2012, recognizes the 143rd anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah. To commemorate this milestone, the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler will once again hold a free event for the public. This year’s celebration has also been designated as an official Centennial event for both the City of Chandler and the state.
On May 12, the museum will open its gates at 330 E. Ryan Rd., in Tumbleweed Park, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will learn about the importance of railroads while they tour railcars currently under restoration and which are normally not open to the public. Arizona Railway Museum volunteers will explain the type of work that is required to restore and refurbish these cars to keep them “alive.”
Visitors can tour several private railcars rarely open to the public, including the 101 year old “Federal,” an Amtrak certified railcar used by former U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson. It was President Taft who signed the Arizona Statehood Bill on Feb. 14, 1912. Tours also include a caboose that has been maintained in the same condition as when it was used in the 1970s. National Train Day guests can blow the horn on a diesel locomotive, and might even get the opportunity to blow the whistle on Chandler’s #2562 steam locomotive.
Many valley residents do not know that they have one of the best railroad museums in the nation right in their own backyard. However, museum volunteers have been pleasantly surprised at the large crowds that attended National Train Day events the past two years. To accommodate the increased public interest, extra parking will be made available, and hay rides to and from the museum will be offered by the Chandler Lion’s Club. Food and beverages will also be available, with all proceeds benefitting the Arizona Railway Museum and Lions Club charities.
The Arizona Railway Museum is a community effort dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, preservation and display of equipment, artifacts and mementos related primarily to the past and present railways of Arizona and the Southwest. From logging and mining, to the freight terminals in Phoenix and Tucson, railroads have played a major role in the economic and social development of the state, especially in communities like Chandler.
The Arizona Railway Museum was founded and incorporated in 1983 as a non-profit, all volunteer, educational and historical organization. The trains were on display for many years near downtown Chandler, until several years ago when the City worked with the museum to relocate the collection to Tumbleweed, the City’s most popular park.
The museum is a labor of love for many volunteers, and the standard entrance fee is waived for this special event. However, donations from the public and local businesses are greatly appreciated. The museum is normally open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through May 27, closed during the summer, and reopens in early September. More information on the Arizona Railway Museum is available at www.azrymuseum.org.