Official Ceremony Set for October 4, 11 a.m.
MEMPHIS, Tenn., September 8, 2014—The public is invited to explore Memphis railroad history and share their memories and photos when the Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum (MRTM) celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 1914 grand opening of Memphis Central Station on Saturday, October 4, 2014, with an official ceremony at 11 a.m. and the free day for the public beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing to 5 p.m.
The event will be the focus of a weekend of 100th anniversary activity. On Friday, October 3, the Amtrak Exhibit Train will arrive and be open for tours by schools and groups at noon to 5 p.m., then be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.A Norfolk Southern Railroad exhibit car will be on display and will be open on the same schedule as the Amtrak train. In addition, tours of the Canadian National (CN) freight locomotive cab will allow visitors to go inside from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 4, only.
Mike Fleming, president of MRTM, explains, “The 100th anniversary of the opening of Memphis’ Central Station marks a major event in the railroad history of the Mid-South. Preserving the “Rich and Colorful Railroad History of Memphis and the Mid-South” is the goal of the Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum.”
The 100th Anniversary celebration will kick off on Thursday evening with the free benefit concert by the Americana duo, the Grahams, who are connecting American folk music with its railroad heritage in a live concert in Central Station’s Hudson Hall at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Donations made at the concert will benefit the Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum. The Grahams are completing work on a live record centered around the American Railway System and its huge role in spreading American Music across the nation, after spending six weeks riding Amtrak, crisscrossing America and writing their newest record
Fleming emphasizes, “We hope that everyone can come to Central Station on October 4 to celebrate this milestone event. In the museum, all visitors can explore the glorious history of Memphis railroads and their passenger service.”
Originally created to celebrate Amtrak’s 40th anniversary in 2011, the Amtrak Exhibit Train consists of two locomotives and five cars painted in Amtrak’s historic paint scheme. Inside the cars are displays portraying events and achievements during the first 40 years of Amtrak, as well as a look at where America’s railroad is headed in the future. In the last car of the train, a reconfigured Amfleet Cafe’ Car, a gift shop offers for sale many items for sale as mementos of the train’s visit.
On Saturday, noted rail historian, Milton Winter, will relate the fascinating story, with vintage photographs, of the 100-year history of Central Station at 1 p.m. in the Amtrak waiting room. Built by the Illinois Central Railroad and completed in 1914, Central Station has served the rail travelers of this region ever since.
Winter points out, “We are seeking recollections from the public on their memories of Central Station. Historians will be on hand to record for posterity their comments, and stories. Please also bring any photographs you might have that were taken here.”
During Saturday’s Anniversary festivities, a Canadian National locomotive cab tour will allow visitors to climb up the locomotive’s front steps and enter into the cab through the nose door to view the interior of the locomotive where the controls are located. They can even sit in the engineer’s seat to pose for pictures and ask the engineer questions.
Other scheduled equipment on display from the five Class 1 railroads that serve Memphis will be the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car and locomotive, and Burlington Northern–Santa Fe (BNSF), CSX and Union Pacific locomotives.
The Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car educates and entertains audiences of all ages with a nod to heritage while showcasing the benefits of rail freight transportation. More than 1.5 million people in 300 communities have been aboard the restored 1926 Pullman passenger car since 1971. A photo booth takes quick pictures of guests against a train backdrop and e-mails them. Other interactive exhibits include “Load the Line,” a game that challenges players to match freight products with the correct type of rail car, and a full-size locomotive simulator with a throttle, brake, and horn that puts guests in control of a virtual freight train.
The Gulf Mobile & Ohio Railroad Historical Society will host a Railroadiana Sale, featuring railroad collectables and model trains, on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Central Station’s boardroom, in conjunction with their annual meeting.
Visitors are invited to browse through the numerous exhibits, interactive displays and operating train layouts. Along with the items for sale in its well-stocked gift shop will be a special commemorative T-shirt by Sache highlighting the 100-year anniversary of the station and silkscreen printed on site at the museum.
The Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum also will be open Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. at regular admission prices: adults-$3.00, under 12-$1.00, and 3 and under free. Ongoing exhibits in the museum that are favorites for youngsters include Thomas & Friends, the 1/8″ scale live steam model engine of the Illinois Central Hudson locomotive #2499, the On30 model train layout modeling “O” scale using “HO” track and the Railroad Tool Wall.
Visitors can also view the ATCS Monitor, a live online view of live train movements through Memphis on a dispatcher’s type screen; the historic 700-foot-long freight tunnel built in 1914; the Kentucky Street CTC (centralized track control) board originally manned 24 hours, seven days a week, to control traffic over the Harahan and Frisco Bridges; the story of two Mississippi River railroad bridges; and the Trolley Exhibit with the history of the trolley system in Memphis.
The Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum is located inside Central Station at 545 South Main, Memphis, TN 38103. For additional information, please call (901) 590-3099 or visit the website at http://www.mrtm.org . All museum entrance fees will be waived, and attendance is free for the MRTM celebration on October 4 only.
The Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum became a reality in April 2012 thanks to the efforts of local railroad hobbyists and historians. In 2011, a lease was negotiated with MATA (Memphis Area Transit Authority) for the space for the museum’s home in Central Station adjacent to Amtrak’s Main Street entrance. Through significant donations and the group’s efforts, the museum emerged in the renovated 700-foot-long and 16-foot-wide basement passageway beneath the tracks, where the now former Railway Express Agency sorted freight. The goal was to tell the story of Memphis’ railroad heritage and create the world’s longest model railroad.
Today, some of this once abandoned space is filled with the laughter and joy of children exploring and climbing up on the treasures of model railroads displaying the history of railroads in Memphis. Plans are underway for Phase Two of the museum featuring the scene of the 1900 Casey Jones’ final train ride with a scene of the turn-of-the-century Memphis riverfront in 3D. A full-size locomotive simulator, such as those being used to train new locomotive engineers will be acquired in the near future. When sufficient funds are raised, Phase Three will be created in 700 feet of a 12-foot-tall and 16-foot-wide tunnel with 18-inch concrete walls. Plans for Phase Three include the realization of that dream to have the longest linear model railroad in a historically accurate replication.
Individuals interested in helping to preserve Memphis railroad history through the museum are invited to send donations to: Friends of the Memphis Railroad & Trolley Museum, Attention: Treasurer David M. Johnston, 545 South Main, Memphis, TN 38103, or online at http://mrtm.org/donate. Additional details on the GM&O Historical Society are available at http://www.gmohs.com.