Been More Than a Decade Now

I recently ran across this image of the Amtrak 40th anniversary exhibit train in Jackson, Michigan. The exhibit train contained numerous artifacts regarding Amtrak history in those three baggage cars.

The Amfleet food service car contained a gift shop while the sleeping car on the rear provided quarters for the traveling exhibit train staff.

The image was made in October 2011. That was more than 10 years ago. Last year when Amtrak marked its 50th anniversary, it did not send an exhibit train out to tour the country.

Aside from a few historic photographs posted on its website and giving some locomotives a 50th anniversary herald Amtrak did little to celebrate its half century of service.

The lingering COVID-19 pandemic no doubt had something to do with that. So did Amtrak’s aversion to spending money on something management viewed as a “frill” during a time when the passenger carrier continued to struggle with less revenue due to pandemic-induced ridership losses.

On the point of the exhibit train is an F40 non-powered control unit painted in the Phase III livery. The same retro look has been applied to the trailing P42DC, which provided motive power and head-end power to the train.

This image also is noteworthy for having been scanned from a slide that came from one of the last rolls of slide film that I ever exposed. Three months earlier I had purchased a digital single lens reflex camera and I seldom made photographs with slide film after that.

On this day I had both cameras although most of the images I made were created with the digital camera. I finished off a roll of slide film with my other camera, which left just one roll of slide film left in my camera bag.

Later this summer will be the 10th anniversary of my having exposed my last frame of slide film. That image was of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 in Bucyrus pulling a Norfolk Southern employee appreciation special.

Those NS employee specials, like the Amtrak exhibit train, are both now things of the past and nothing similar has come along to take their place.

Photograph and Article by Craig Sanders

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