WILLIAMS - National Train Day returns to Williams Saturday and Sunday. The Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) in cooperation with the Grand Chapter of the NHRS and the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce are hosting the event.
The highlight of this weekend's event will be the Cataract Creek Rambler - 45-minute train rides in open-window passenger coaches, pulled behind 1923 Baldwin steam locomotive No. 4960, which has been recently converted to burn waste vegetable oil. Trains leave every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are sold on the day of the event only.
The Winslow Harvey Girls will also be on the property, originally a Harvey House in the early 20th century. The city of Williams will be sponsoring a classic car show so there will be plenty of classic cars around the Railway's property, just a block from historic Route 66. Inside the Williams Depot and adjacent GCR Hotel, 3,500 square feet have been dedicated to model railroad displays. At least five different scales will be on display, including several N-trak displays from the Mountain Valley N Scale Group, Arizona Southwest Model Railroad Society, and Prescott Valley N-trak. N-trak is a special organization of N scale (1:160) model railroaders who build individual modules to specified standards. The modules can be combined to form layouts of various sizes, configurations, and themes.
Operation Lifesaver will be on hand with the GCR locomotive simulator, which demonstrates what an engineer sees when he approaches a road crossing.
Al Richmond will have displays from the Arizona State Railroad Museum Collection and be on hand to talk about the planning for a permanent location. Morgan O'Connor from GCR will be present to discuss Xanterra's environmental policies and how 21st century railroading can minimize its environmental impact. There will also be a small display of railroad photography by local artisans.
Several pieces of full-scale railroad equipment will be on display, including a historic GCR locomotive as well as GCR's "Max Biegert" parlor car will be open for display showcasing how rail barons traveled in style and luxury. The Chapter's own Santa Fe Caboose will be open for tours. Activities for each day begin at 10 a.m.
National Train Day was started by Amtrak in 2008 to commemorate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, May 10, 1869. Amtrak sponsors major events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, and Philadelphia. Local communities around the country are welcomed to host their own events. Visit www.nationaltrainday.com for more information on activities around the country.
Classic cars, antique tractors, fly-in
Don't miss the classic car show and antique tractor display while at GCR. Pimi Bennett, Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce information specialist, is organizing the event. Bennett hopes to have more than 20 classic vehicles on display in addition to the antique tractors.
Many fun and free activities will be available at the H.A. Clark Memorial Field Saturday as Williams celebrates Trains, Planes and Automobiles Weekend. Fly-in participants can take advantage of fuel discounts, tie down fees waived and under wing camping.
Open to the general public, people can view homebuilt and War Bird displays. EAA Chapter No. 856 from Flagstaff will offer free Young Eagle flights for children all day. Experience a simulated take off and landing at LAX Airport in a computerized flight simulator. Further your aviation education with a free WINGS presentation.
A pancake breakfast will by provided by local Boy Scouts. The Williams Kiwanis Club is offering a barbecue lunch. A free shuttle is being offered all day from the airport to the National Train Day events at GCR.
For information, call the Williams-Forest Service Visitor Center at 1-800-863-0546 or stop by 200 W. Railroad Ave.