National Train Day chugs into Toledo with info, activities

Toledo’s National Train Day will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with an opening ceremony at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza.
Toledo’s National Train Day will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with an opening ceremony at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza.

A modern locomotive that Norfolk Southern painted in the historic colors of the New York Central railroad will be featured at Toledo’s National Train Day event Saturday, while model-train layouts, art and information booths, and live entertainment will highlight indoor activities down at the depot.

The annual event at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony during which Karen Hedlund, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, will speak, along with several local dignitaries.

Ms. Hedlund will have more detailed remarks during an 11 a.m. Federal Rail Update presentation. The presentation will be the first of several informational programs that will include forums on passenger-train development and local railroad history.

Equipment displays on the station tracks at the building’s lower level, 415 Emerald Ave., are scheduled to include four locomotives plus an Amtrak display train made up of passenger cars typically used on trains that serve Toledo.

Amtrak operates two daily pairs of trains through the city — the Chicago-New York/​Boston Lake Shore Limited and the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited — and a free train trip will be among prizes drawn starting at 11 a.m.

The New York Central Heritage Locomotive is one of 20 that Norfolk Southern decorated two years ago in the colors and lettering of historical railroads whose lines make up parts of its current system. Toledo's train station is primarily a former New York Central facility and former New York Central tracks account for much of Norfolk Southern's Toledo-area network.

The modern, 4,300-horsepower engine is one of the workhorses of Norfolk Southern’s system. The engine recently has been assigned to haul ethanol trains between Chicago and New Jersey.

Locomotives from the Wheeling & Lake Erie and Great Lakes Central railroads also will be displayed, along with the Amtrak engine and cars.

Art displays will be inside the station on the ground floor, while model trains, food vendors, and other exhibits will be in the third-floor Grand Lobby.

On the station’s second floor, Engineer Steve will start railroad safety workshops for children at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m., while short rides on antique railroad motor cars will be offered on the stub tracks just east of the depot.

Cannonball Paul the Crooning Conductor and his sidekick, Carolina Red, will perform throughout the day, singing and playing railroad-themed favorites like “Wabash Cannonball,” “Rock Island Line,” “Casey Jones,” and “Night Train to Memphis.” The Grande Royale Ukelelists of the Black Swamp will be the featured performers today at a Friday Night by the Tracks preview party for Train Day sponsors, volunteers, and invited guests.

Admission and parking are free. Additional parking will be available from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the nearby Owens Corning headquarters, from which free shuttle-bus service will be provided.

Contact David Patch at: or 419-724-6094.