|National Park Service|
Trails & Rails
Although you wont get there as quick, the experience is thoroughly enjoyable, mixing America's scenic beauty with it's cultural past and historical stories. As you sit in the parlor car while the California Zephyr crosses the Rocky Mountains you can almost see the two coasts linking up in Utah to watch the last spike driven to link the revolutionary east with the expansive west. Riding the Coast Starlight through California you can imagine the hardships that Juan Bautista deAnza and his party encountered while pioneering an overland route to Alta California beyond the Spanish frontier to San Francisco Bay.
Through a partnership with Amtrak and the National Parks Service, the Rails & Trails program went national in 2000. The Rails & Trails mission is to;
While passing through San Jose's Diridon Station the other day I ran into two docents who were getting ready to board the southbound Coast Starlight train to Los Angeles to present their program. Since the route of the Coast Starlight roughly parallels Deanza's route to the Bay Area, the docents make this point in California history come alive.
Enable Amtrak to enhance the overall experience of customers by offering interpretive programs that educate them about national and historic content of the scenery while also creating awareness in respect for America's "special" places within the National Park System.
Amtrak Rails & Trails
docents get ready to board
the southbound Coast Starlight
at Diridon Station
Next summer I plan to do a bike tour from Buffalo, New York to Albany, New York along the historic Erie Canal and catch the Hudson River Valley Greenway in Albany to New York city. While on Amtrak's Maple Leaf route I hope to hear Rails & Trails volunteers present a history of on the Erie Canal and it's impact on the greater New York region 200 years ago.
Trails & Rails Partnership with Texas A&M university
The National Park Service and the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (RPTS) at Texas A&M University in College Station entered into a partnership in September 2008 to relocate and house the management and coordination of the National Trails & Rails Program to the University.
RPTS has provided logistical and technical support to the Trails & Rails Program in interpretation, education, marketing, tourism and recreational opportunities. Undergraduate students in RPTS are currently developing podcasts so passengers can listen to a thematic Trail & Rails program on their iPods or Mp3 players. Currently available are routes from Los Angeles, San Antonio, New Orleans and Chicago, but other routes are being developed.
Here are some Trails & Rails facts
- Amtrak passengers participating - 3,488,150
- Trails & Rails programs presented on Amtrak 73,615
- Volunteer guides participating in Trails & Rails - 754
- Volunteer hours donated to Trails & Rails - 267,082
- Value of volunteer hours based as the "independent sector" - $5,081,685