Amtrak 40th Anniversary Train Visits Michigan

The Amtrak 40th anniversary train sits at the former Michigan Central station in Jackson, Mich., on Oct. 8, 2011.

Amtrak’s 40th anniversary exhibit train rolled in Jackson, Mich., over the weekend of Oct. 8-9, making its only scheduled stop of 2011 in the eastern Great Lakes region. The train will be in Milwaukee next weekend before traveling to the West Coast to spend the rest of the year.

The train, which is comprised of five cars, was parked at the restored former Michigan Central station in Jackson. Although photographs of the train at earlier stops showed P40DC No. 822 at one end of the train and former F40PH No. 406 at the other, in Jackson, the two units were together with the nose of No. 402, which is now a non-powered control unit, facing west.

It was just as well because the location of the train would have placed No. 822 beyond the platform and away from easy view. Still, I would have liked to have photographed the nose of the 822 without any obstructions. The 822 and 406 wear the heritage Phase III livery.

The five-car train included 10-6 sleeper Pacific Bend, which was not open to the public, three baggage cars turned into display cars and an Amfleet lounge. The latter serves as a gift shop.

Admission to the train was free. Most of the exhibits are uniforms once worn by Amtrak employees, dining car china, posters and other paper artifacts. The uniforms were donated by Amtrak employees and placed on mannequins that were tailored to look somewhat like the employee who donated the artifact.

A particularly popular attraction was a collection of four locomotive horns. Push a button and you could hear what the horn blowing for a grade crossing. Also on display was a control stand from a geep switcher, seats from passenger cars, and catenary from an electric locomotive used in the Northeast Corridor.

The displays were housed in three baggage cars with each car roughly making up a decade of history presented in chronological order. The exhibits provided a nice but general overview of Amtrak history. The primary purpose was to show how the face of Amtrak has changed over the years and to appeal to a general audience, not a group of passenger train junkies.

Still, there was plenty for the devoted passenger train historian to view, including numerous items I with that I had in my own collection.   

The Jackson depot’s waiting room was also transformed into a display area with exhibit from Operation Lifesaver and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, among others.

The display train was parked on main No. 1, which affected Amtrak operations early Saturday afternoon. The eastbound Wolverine Service No. 350 from Chicago was running a half-hour late and the dispatcher held it west of the station until the arrival of westbound No. 353. After the latter completed its station work, it crossed over from Track 2 to Track 1 and No. 350 rolled into the station.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Heritage units 406 and 822 were part of the display.

Uniforms donated by Amtrak employees, posters and other paper artifacts were plentiful in the exhibit train.

Dining car china used over the year was a focal point of the displays.

 

HO scale model trains were used to represent Amtrak equipment. Shown is an E unit in the Phase I livery that was part of the "rainbow era" train.

 

Westbound "Wolverine Service" Train No. 350 prepares to pass the Amtrak 40th anniversary train in Jackson, Mich.

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