Train Days 2023 is making its stop at the Union Depot in St. Paul on Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4.
The free, family-friendly event will include train equipment tours, a vendor marketplace, model trains, concessions and activities for folks of all ages.
Trains play a central role in the history of Minnesota, and like roots to a tree, tracks from across the state and country coalesce in the state capitol. Headquartered in St. Paul, the Great Northern Railway was created in 1889 as the brainchild of “The Empire Builder,” James J. Hill.
The railway not only facilitated cross-country passenger travel, but was vital to Minnesota’s economic prosperity. Companies like General Mills and Pillsbury, and Minnesota’s iron mining industry, relied on trains to transport goods.
According to the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, after retiring in 1912, Hill was said to have mused, “Most men who have really lived have had, in some shape, their great adventure. This railway is mine.”
Railcars that have made many stops at the Union Depot in years gone by will return once again for the locomotive reunion. From a mid-century modern sky-top lounge to streamliners and freight trains, this year’s Train Days line-up includes a variety of cars, many of which are making their first appearance at the event.
Additionally, a new photography exhibit, “Full Steam Ahead,” will provide attendees a lens into the past. Looking at the history of the steam locomotive, curators hope the showcase will illustrate the significant role the steam engine had in connecting the United States.
“Full Steam Ahead” will be available for viewing from June to October.
Today, Union Depot serves as the Twin Cities Amtrak station and is visited hundreds of times a day by buses and as the last stop on the light rail’s Green Line.
Train Days will take place at the Union Depot next Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. For more information about the event or for a free, printable activity book for kids, visit the Union Depot website.