National Train Day in Hamlet cancelled

Replaced by Amtrak Train Days events in Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* 2015 Amtrak Train Days events in NC
* 2014 PDP National Train Day coverage

At about this time last year, rail fans of all ages were preparing for National Train Day in Hamlet. That’s not happening this year. Any train celebration event in Hamlet has been cancelled.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Xzavier Spaine, 3, of Hamlet, plays with a toy train during National Train Day in May 2014 set inside the Hamlet Visitors Center with new friend Madison McPherson, 4, of Ellerbe.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Xzavier Spaine, 3, of Hamlet, plays with a toy train during National Train Day in May 2014 set inside the Hamlet Visitors Center with new friend Madison McPherson, 4, of Ellerbe.

The Amtrak-sponsored, three-hour gala in 2014 featured a museum hunt, a sidewalk chalk art contest and, under the covered pavilion, several booths from CSX, local artist Linda Faye’s paintings of Hamlet Depot and trains, the Richmond County Amateur Radio Club, face painting and more. Visitors freely toured the Hamlet Museum and Depot.

Volunteers prepared 175 goodie bags for children and another 75 for adults. Bags for both groups had all been distributed shortly after the first hour was up.

National Train Day, supported by CSX and Amtrak, among other businesses and the city of Hamlet, was a time to reflect on the town of Hamlet and what used to be.

Tim Nevinger, president of the National Railroad Museum, stood last year in the locomotive giving tours to the public. Nevinger said then it’s difficult for people to understand how central the town, once known as “the Hub of the Seaboard,” was to passenger transportation over the rails. More than two dozen passenger trains would pass through Hamlet each day, Nevinger said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Caitlyn Warren, 6, and her mom, Catherine Warren, move through a caboose on display at the Hamlet Depot & Museum on Saturday during National Train Day in Hamlet. Photo taken in May 2014.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Caitlyn Warren, 6, and her mom, Catherine Warren, move through a caboose on display at the Hamlet Depot & Museum on Saturday during National Train Day in Hamlet. Photo taken in May 2014.

It’s likely that connection between past and present becomes even more difficult if events like this continue to disappear.

“I think it was a big plus for Hamlet to have something like that,” Nevinger told The Pee Dee Post on Friday afternoon. “I think it was great. I thought for sure Amtrak was going to be there again this year. We was ready for ’em.”

Nevinger suggested that the loss of the event in what used to be the “Hub of the Seaboard” is “not very good advertisement for Hamlet.”

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I was blindsided a little bit.”

Nevinger said last year’s turnout and participation shouldn’t have done anything but reinforce the notion that it should return to Hamlet. He said there could be a way to duplicate the 2014 National Train Day on a local level.

“I think if we could come up with something to draw the people,” Nevinger said. “It’s mostly for the kids. It would take a lot of volunteers (and need) more people interested in promoting it for the community.”

Nevinger said the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame did its part by leading tours through Locomotive 1114 and installing a second set of stairs so the tour is a one-way adventure, which made logistics for handling the lines of rail fans much easier.

 

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News

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