A Students View – Travel Critique of the RailPark #2
By Ann Marie Finley
We’re back with the 2nd installment of our “A Students View” series. In this week’s blog post we have shared some insight from Ann Marie Finley from her visit and critique of the RailPark.
Here’s what she had to say about visiting with us:
The Historic RailPark & Train Museum in Bowling Green, KY, offers a variety of ways to learn the intense and interesting history of the pacific coast railroad and what life was like on the trains. The museum is based out of the original train depot and features its original exterior and interior tile floors. Additionally, the old train depot houses offices for staff members, a gift shop, a massive toy version of the track and the surrounding landscape, and a walk-through museum section full of information and historic artifacts used on the train.
The museum’s main attraction is the 8 vintage train cars. Five of the 8 cars have been fully refurbished and meticulously staged to mirror the exact way it looked in the past. The museum’s main selling point is the guided tours guests can take through the 5 restored cars including the locomotive, post office, dining, sleeper, and presidential car. Lastly, the gift shop offers a variety of items for people of all ages to remember their experience and emerge themselves in the history of the railroads.
When visiting the RailPark as a customer, many observations were made about the existing process in place. Upon arriving at the museum, numerous signs made it clear as to where customers should park, enter the building, and buy tickets for the guided car tour. The employee at the ticket stand/gift shop was very welcoming and explained the length of the tour, the location of the meeting area for my tour group, and divulged that the meeting area featured restored benches from the original train depot, used throughout the 1950s. Our tour guide was right on schedule and picked us up promptly at 1 pm.
To start the tour, our guide brought us outside to stand by the train cars and told us about the history of the birth of the railroad, Bowling Green’s unique history with the railroad, the purpose of the train depots construction, the impact of the train depot on the area, and the process of restoring the train cars and original train depot building. After the history lecture, our guide walked us upstairs to enter the post office car. While walking through each car, our guide explained the history behind every interesting detail of the train’s construction and the multi-use features of many aspects of the car. When we entered the postal car, we were shown the pulley mail system that workers used to receive and deliver mail while the train was still in motion. We were able to see the process when our guide pulled out the original hook postal workers would use and demonstrated the pickup and drop-off routine. As we entered the refurbished locomotive car, we were shown a video of a train engineer that aided in building the train. While touring the sleeper car, we saw the process of nightly turndowns that the train employees would do to switch passengers’ seats into beds for nighttime travel.
The most interesting part of the experience occurred when entering the front of the train where our guide took the time to allow each customer to sit in the conductor’s seat, take a picture, and pull the train horn cord. The tour ended in the walk-through section of the museum, and we were encouraged to read the posters and plaques explaining more aspects of the train’s history and other events that were happening at that time. I was also able to shop at the gift shop and buy items to remember my trip to the museum. Overall, the experience for me was highly educational and remarkably interesting.