EXHIBITION OF AMTRAK HISTORY
CAME TO BE IN LA PLATA, MISSOURI
CLICK HERE for photos of the exhibition
TrainWeb.com has a long history of supporting and promoting Amtrak going back to 1995. We are probably most known for the travelogues and photos of rail travel that are posted to our website by our staff and correspondents who frequently travel throughout the nation by Amtrak. Every rail travelogue that has ever been posted to our website can be found in the Travel Section of TrainWeb.com and can also be accessed directly at RAILtravelogues.com. Over the years that we have been in existence there have been hundreds of rail travelogues posted. Combined, our staff and correspondents have traveled more than two million miles by Amtrak.
For the first 9 years of TrainWeb's existence, our office was located directly above the Amtrak Ticket Office overlooking the platform at the Fullerton Amtrak Station in California, an office that years ago was used by the Santa Fe Railroad to manage express shipments and then later for dispatching operations.
For years, a number of visitors to our website would call and e-mail us, especially parents of small children, asking where they could purchase railroad themed party supplies for their child's birthday party. We didn't know where they could purchase such supplies other than at a local party store. But the parents would always reply that the selection at the party stores were inadequate. Thus, we decided to try selling railroad themed party supplies online ourselves and see if there was a market for it. TrainWeb.com set up a division and a new website, TrainParty.com, to try this new venture.
Boy, were we surprised! People started purchasing the railroad themed party supplies faster than we could refill our inventory! Sales went through the roof and we could no longer hold all the inventory in our small office above the Fullerton Amtrak station. Sales continued to grow so rapidly that we realized we needed a much larger facility, both for the current volume of sales and future growth. We also realized that we needed to be more centrally located in the nation to lower shipping costs and expedite delivery time to everywhere in the nation. Thus, we decided to move to a facility more centrally located such as Missouri.
Originally, we decided to move TrainWeb.com / TrainParty.com to Liberty, Missouri. One day we were talking to one of our customers, a new hotel in La Plata, Missouri, "The Depot Inn & Suites," that had just opened and purchased a lot of plastic train whistles from TrainParty.com to hand out to the children at their grand opening. Tom, the owner of The Depot Inn, suggested that we move to La Plata, Missouri, instead of Liberty. Tom pointed out that there was an Amtrak station right in La Plata and that the town is interested in promoting their railroad history to attract visitors.
Because of our common railroad related interests and goals of TrainWeb and the Depot Inn, and from the encouragement of the town of La Plata, and the location of a facility that we could move into right next to the BNSF mainline and route of the Amtrak Southwest Chief, TrainWeb.com / TrainParty.com did end up moving to La Plata, Missouri! We moved into a building on the other side of the tracks in direct view of the Amtrak Station in La Plata. There are a number of photographs of the Amtrak La Plata Station, our new building, and The Depot Inn & Suites (a railroad museum itself!), which are all within walking distance of each other, at: www.trainweb.com/news/10thaniv.html
It wasn't long before we started thinking about our years of participation in the Amtrak Historical Society and all the Amtrak artifacts, photographs, and literature that the Amtrak Historical Society, TrainWeb itself, and its readers had collected over the years. We thought about how we might be able to create an exhibition of Amtrak history where the public could come to see all these things.
Toward that end, TrainWeb acquired two freight cars that Amtrak had been using for the transportation of the U.S.Mail. These freight cars are still in the Amtrak paint scheme and bare the "U.S.Mail" markings. The Depot Inn & Suites had a segment of track laid next to the hotel. On Wedenesday, October 17, 2007, using cranes and trucks, the ex-Amtrak cars were moved to these tracks.
For the next several weeks, the railcars were refurbished, cleaned up, the paint touched up, steps and ramps were added, lighting and display cabinets installed, etc. Most of the collections of the Amtrak Historical Society and TrainWeb have been placed on public display in these railcars. This Exhibition of Amtrak History was opened to the public in one of the two railcars at 1:30 PM on Saturday, February 23, 2008 with a Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Later that same day was the Grand Opening, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Evening Gala at the Silver Rails Event Center in Downtown La Plata, Missouri.
TrainWeb and the Depot Inn are also working on plans for a much larger exhibit facility, possibly 80,000 square feet. At present, we are contemplating a museum devoted to the history of North American passenger rail, but the core focus is still planned to be the history of Amtrak. To coordinate the operation of the museum, a non-profit organization is being formed called the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF). We have already acquired land right near the Depot Inn and the La Plata Amtrak Station that is directly in line with an active railroad spur that could be used for the movement of Amtrak and other historic passenger cars and equipment in and out of the museum grounds. These plans are currently in the conceptual stage and more information will be posted here at a later date.
A name for the museum has not yet been selected. If we decide to use "Amtrak" as any part of the official name of the museum, we do realize that we will have to obtain permission from the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC) for use of their "Amtrak" trade name. We have not yet decided if we will seek such permission or just use a more generic name such as the "American Passenger Rail Heritage Museum".
If you would like to donate Amtrak memorabilia to the exhibition or contribute funds to help with the operation of the museum, please send them to: Depot Inn & Suites, Attn: Museum, 1245 North Brown Street, La Plata, MO 63549. Checks should be made out to the APRHF (or American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation). Our non-profit 501c3 status is still pending, so we can only log your contributions of memorabilia and funds at this time if you wish your contribution to be tax deductible. We will not make official transfer of ownership or funds to the organization until we have obtained our 501c3 non-profit status.
DEPOT INN & SUITES / SILVER RAILS RESORT / LA PLATA, MISSOURI
More Photos: Exterior / Interior / Rooms / Train Watching / Amtrak Exhibition / Event Center
For Travel Arrangements & Info e-mail: travel@SilverRails.net or call: 877-459-5900 (toll-free).
THINGS TO SEE IN & NEAR LA PLATA, MISSOURI:
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