Climb aboard history and ride the fun Saturday as Hope celebrates its new connection with Amtrak on National Train Day.
Climb aboard history and ride the fun Saturday as Hope celebrates its new connection with Amtrak on National Train Day. Dedication ceremonies and a day of activities in downtown Hope at the historic Hope Visitor Information Center and Depot at 100 E. Division St., the intersection of South Main and Division streets, will begin at 9 a.m. with entertainment by the Hope High School Jazz Cats. Tours of the Amtrak Exhibit Train, a specially modified Amtrak passenger train which includes a dual engine, passenger car, baggage car, and dining car, will be available from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the Depot. Self-guided tours will highlight Amtrak history and a “glimpse of our future,” according to Amtrak information. Hope Junior Auxiliary members will be one hand to take commemorative photos for the youngsters, according to Hope Parks and Tourism Director Paul Henley. Official dedication ceremonies for the Amtrak passenger stop at Hope will begin at 10 a.m. Hope City Manager Catherine Cook said Hope Vice Mayor Steve Montgomery will preside during the ceremonies, and officials who helped obtain the passenger service, including former Congressman Mike Ross, of Little Rock, and State Senator Larry Teague, D-Nashville, will welcome Amtrak representatives and a representative from Union-Pacific Railroad. Amtrak representatives are also expected to present the City with a dedicatory letter from Amtrak President Joe Boardman, according to Cook. Plans for the day include a tailgating contest, sponsored by the Hope Civitan Club, with a $1,000 first prize, and cash prizes of $300 for second and $200 for third place, Henley said. He said contest judging will take place at noon. “Tailgating meals will be served throughout the day,” he said. Entry forms are available by contacting Debbie Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org online. Dave Almond will be in performance on the main stage beginning at noon, followed at 1 p.m. by the Red Dirt Renegades and at 3 p.m. by the Night Hawk Band. Bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, and bungee run will be on site downtown, and free hot dogs will be provided for the kids. The Southwest Arkansas Arts Council will also display winning entries from its National Train Day art contest held at Beryl Henry Elementary School at its offices in the former Cairo-Fulton Depot next door. The Plowboys Car Club will hold an all-day classic car show in downtown Hope. “Drawings will be held for round-trip tickets on Amtrak from Hope to Chicago, Hope to San Antonio, and Hope to St. Louis; and, winners must be present to qualify,” Henley said. All events will be free of charge, he said. Amtrak currently schedules two passenger trains daily for stops in Hope, with Train 21 departing Hope at 5:09 a.m., traveling west, and Train 22 departing Hope at 9:18 p.m., going east.