ARM Trip Report

National Train Day at the Arizona Railway Museum

May 9, 2009

By Mark J. Redmond

It all started with a suggestion and turned into one of the most unexpectedly great days for the Museum.  Bart Barton was already planning to participate in some National Train Day events with 3 Amtrak certified cars and suggested to Dave Luca that maybe the museum might want to do something. Dave approached Mark J. Redmond about handling the publicity side and away it went.

After writing the press release and the event being reviewed, on April 18, 2009 the board of directors approved the Museum’s participation in Amtrak’s National Train Day.    On Monday April 20th the Museum press release went out and the event was published on the official National Train Day web site.      

The museum would be open from 9 AM to 4 PM , have the ‘Federal” open for tours and the air horn on the Baldwin available for kids to blow the horn.  Not included in the press release but in the works were caboose rides.  This was not announced just in case of mechanical difficulty.

At first we were thinking we would not be too busy.  Many of the e-mails sent were deleted without being read.  However, soon after things started to change.  Mark got a call from very excited Marilee Bankert, Sr. Field Marketing Officer for Amtrak’s Sunset Limited.  After a brief discussion Marilee was able to send the Museum enough items to make 100 goodie bags to pass out to guests plus extra schedules and 300 Amtrak Junior Conductor hats.  E-mails from ARM members to Mark helped in suggesting other places to send the press release.  Russ Lassuy was able to put Mark in contact with the City of Chandler ’s Craig Younger who works in the Communications and Public Affairs Office.  Craig included our press release with the City’s and was released May 1st.

Hopes for the caboose rides were in jeopardy when Andy Szabo reported the Plymouth again was having air compressor issues.  However, in true ‘Mr. Scott’ fashion, Andy was able to repair the problem just in time for the event.

The Museum members really stepped up for the event.  Many responded to the call for assistance.  A total of 25 members were at the Museum for all or part of the day.  This was enough to have one person in each car plus extras to man the greeting tent and walk around to ensure everyone had fun.  Janet Dittmer was kind enough to go to Sam’s Club to purchase soda, water and snacks which were set up in the 504 lounge car.

Well, we had the press releases, some newspaper stories done but we still were not sure of what kind of turn out we would have.  Thursday May 7, marked a day when we knew we could be busy.  Mark got a call from Cary Quinn, weekend producer for Channel 12 News who said he had heard about our event and wanted to have Caribe Devine do segments from the Museum for the Saturday morning news show. 

Saturday May 9th was here and it had to be a good sign when, as I was getting to the Museum, Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans ” started playing on my MP3 player.  After having some trouble finding us, videographer Richard Prange arrived about 6:30AM to set up and reporter Caribe Devine arrived shortly after 7AM .  Caribe did a total of three segments during the one hour show.  For the first segment, Caribe interviewed Mark outside of the TC & G caboose.  The next segment, a shorter one, Caribe did her weather report from inside the Denehotso.  The last segment Caribe again interviewed Mark inside the 580 car.  All segments can be viewed at the end of this article.  The live reporting from Channel 12 turned out to be the best advertising we got.  About 60% of the visitors saw us in TV.

After some hurried set ups, Mark must remember not to leave his notebook with the car assignments at home, everyone had their assignments and at 8:30 AM we started to see visitors arriving.  The suggestion to have the docents park inside the museum by the bullpen turned out to be a good idea.  By 9:30 AM the parking lot was almost completely full and remained that way most of the day. 

At 9:30AM the kids found the Baldwin ’s air horn.  It was going off almost constantly.  George Barker who manned the engine said he was totally surprised on how many people wanted to blow that horn.  George, I was not.  I myself wanted to blow that horn!  Probably the only people not happy with the air horn were Tom Klobas and Russ Lassuy.  But not because they did not enjoy the kids blowing the horn all the time.  You see, Tom’s assignment was the ‘Desert Valley’ which happened to be right in front of the Baldwin on track 2 and Russ’ car was next to the ‘Desert Valley’ on track 3.

About 10 AM the next best event started.  Caboose rides.  The traffic on the cabooses was constant until about 12:30 PM when the Plymouth started overheating.  Andy managed to get two more rides in the afternoon before he had to stop.

As expected we had a majority of our visitors before noon , about 150 an hour.  What was surprising was the lack of drop off after 12 PM .  Being as hot as it was we were expecting the visitor count to drop dramatically but we still averaged about 80 visitors an hour!  Our figures show we had about 750 or more visitors that day and they were still coming at 3:45PM !

This day also marked the first time the Santa Fe #405 was open to the public.

While it was a very warm day for that time of year we only had one casualty and that was the air conditioner on the diner.  It went out the night before the event.


At the end of the day, many of the docents gathered in the lounge in the 504 to discuss the day’s events while snacking on some good food and drink.

Here are the videos of the Channel 12 spots.

First interview

Weather report from inside the Denehotso

Second interview lead-in

Second interview


Mark J. Redmond gets ready for the first of 2 interviews with Channel 12's Caribe Devine

Mark being interviewed by Caribe Devine.

Caribe Devine reads the TV to do the weather.

Channel 12's Richard Prange and Caribe Devine talk about the next interview in the 580.

Gathering at the welcome tent just before opening

Dan Melucci and Paul Raia chat with Caribe & Richard.

The first of many visitors arriving.

Andy Szabo helps a young engineer in to the seat on the Baldwin.

A family heading for the caboose ride.

Cabooses load up for the first run of the day.

By 9:30 AM the parking lot is almost full.

Dan Melucci on station in the TC&GB caboose.

Some visitors touring the 2870 coach..

Lots of visitors.

Jan Barham in her conductors outfit ready to board riders.

Diane Roberson watches some visitors leave the gift shop as the Baldwin air horn blows.

Kenny Rhodes welcomes guests to the #405.

A couple of guests climb up to the cab of the 2562.

A long line for the air horn.

Roger Netz talks to guests about the 2562.

This line never did get short.

Andy, George & Dave get the Plymouth ready for caboose rides.

The Plymouth on a caboose ride.

A father and son enjoying a caboose ride.

Off to the north end of the museum.

The smiles say it all.

Visitors checking out the 2562.

More visitors checking out the 2562.

Even a work crew for the Union Pacific showed up.

2 young visitors wearing their Junior Amtrak Conductor hats.

Lots of visitors.

Again a great reason we do this. A happy child.

Time to relax after a great day.

And a good way to relax.

As I mentioned this was also the first time the Private Car "Federal"  was open to the public. Here are some pictures Kenny Rhodes took of the car all set up.

Bedrooms A and B.

Bedrooms C and D with D all set up for night time.

One of the bedrooms.

Bedroom D. Nice touch with the teddy bear.

All ready for a good nights sleep.

The bath in one of the bedrooms.


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