Public tickets are on sale for the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) convention based in Springdale on June 10-15. Attendees will ride vintage trains over rare stretches of track, tour historic towns, museums and an Amtrak history train, and enjoy fascinating history seminars. The convention draws hundreds of railroad fans from across the world.
To purchase tickets for convention trains and events, visit the NRHS convention website at http://www.nrhs.com/2014_Convention.
Highlighting the six-day convention are four days of charter trains on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, pulled by classic “Alco” locomotives built in the 1960s and traveling rail lines that don’t normally host passenger trains. A June 10 trip to the Bentonville Branch is sold out, but tickets remain for several A&M specials:
- An exciting A&M “photo freight” train over the Ozark Mountains from Springdale to Mountainburg and back. The June 10 trip will feature photo stops, a dinner break and night photos. Limited tickets remain with various travel options.
- An all-day special will operate June 12 from Springdale to the south end of the railroad at Fort Smith. During the 150-mile round trip, the train will travel through one of the highest tunnels between the Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains. The trip includes a tour of the 1903 Frisco Railroad depot in Fort Smith.
- June 14 will see another day-long A&M special travel from Springdale over the mountains to the railroad’s north end at the historic rail junction town of Monett, Missouri.
- On June 15, another rare A&M rail excursion will travel north from Springdale through the rolling hills of Southwest Missouri to Butterfield. These tickets are being sold by the A&M Railroad at http://www.amrailroad.com/html/reservations/calendar.html.
On the weekend of June 14-15, Amtrak’s historic Exhibit Train will make a free appearance in Springdale, featuring a specially painted locomotive to commemorate America’s veterans and exciting displays showcasing the history of the nation’s intercity passenger railroad. To learn more about the Exhibit Train, visit: http://www.amtrak.com/exhibit-train.
Other convention events include:
- Coach rides on the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway (the dinner train is sold out);
- The first behind-the-scenes tour of the Silver Dollar City steam railroad in Branson, Missouri (full-day tour packages are close to selling out);
- Tours of the Fort Smith Trolley Museum;
- “NRHS at the Naturals,” an evening baseball game on June 15 between the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (an AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals), and the Arkansas Travelers.
The convention will be based at the Holiday Inn – Springdale and the adjacent Hampton Inn & Suites. Both hotels are offering special room rates of $99 per night (the hotels’ lowest rates are typically more than $130). Rooms include free breakfast offered in advance of morning events.
Several history and rail education seminars are available, along with the annual NRHS banquet. Scheduled speakers include the following:
- J. Reilly McCarren, Chairman of the Board, Arkansas & Missouri Railroad;
- Susan Young, Outreach Coordinator, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale;
- Mike Dougherty, Senior Vice President-Finance, J.B. Hunt Intermodal;
- Mike Condren, a renowned expert on Arkansas & Missouri Railroad history;
- Larry Rouse, Track Supervisor, Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.
Non-rail events include tours of the historic towns of Fayetteville and Eureka Springs, nearby War Eagle Mill, the famous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walmart Visitor Center located in the original Walton’s Five and Dime, and the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.
“This year’s convention offers a unique opportunity to combine tourism, train travel and history in the Ozark Mountains, taking attendees behind the scenes and offering one-of-a-kind photo opportunities,” said Barton Jennings, NRHS convention chair.
Founded in 1935, the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) preserves and raises awareness of America’s threatened railroad heritage. NRHS operates historic rail excursions and tours throughout North America and supports nearly 140 regional chapters. Since 1991, the non-profit organization has awarded nearly $600,000 in railroad preservation grants; it also sponsors RailCamp, a summer orientation program offering high school youth hands-on experience in the railroad industry.