Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Railroad tourism as a way to promote transit: Union Pacific's Big Boy steam locomotive journey

Valley Transit (San Jose) poster promoting transit use and transportation demand management.

I have three pieces about transit marketing around the idea of creating a National Trains Month, to be held in May, which is the anniversary of the creation of a transcontinental railroad system.  

-- "Modern railroad tourism promotion," 2018
-- "May should be National Train Month as a way to market and promote passenger rail," 2021
-- "Two train/regional transit ideas: Part 2 | Running tourist trains from Union Station," 2021

The idea is to promote all forms of rail transit, including freight (that's a way to have the big railroads help pay for the event.)  It is inspired by how Amtrak had National Trains Day/Weekend in the early to mid 2010s, as a promotional event.

The idea of leveraging grand train stations is also discussed in this entry from 2015, "New State Rail Planning Initiative in DC: First meeting Monday September 28th," suggesting DC Union Station as a point of leverage.

Traditional railroads often do promotions of their old steam engines.  And some do special lighted trains during the December holiday season.

Even though I am into railroads, for some reason, I am not enamored of steam.  

Nonetheless, Union Pacific is doing a run of its Big Boy steam locomotive from Wyoming to California and back in June and July, and I probably will try to see it when it's in Ogden ("Union Pacific releases new details about Big Boy tour; Ogden a major stop," Standard-Examiner).

It's exactly the kind of event I suggest needs to be pulled into a larger scaled schedule of events to promote railroads--freight and passenger--and rail-based forms of transit.

And special programs for kids.  Japan's local railroads sometimes have railroad-related playhouse areas.  The National Park Service has a railroad themed Junior Ranger booklet, Railroad Explorer

I think railroad passenger services, which are mostly commuter oriented, need to provide free days to give people an introduction to the service, and that could be done during a National Trains Month.

Railroad themed playground in the Depot District of Lacey, Washington.  Photo by Nikki McCoy.


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