The heritage of those that built the railroads will be honored

The annual San Luis Obispo Train Day, put on by the SLO Railroad Museum, will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Train Day celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869, and when the railroad arrived in SLO 125 years ago.

“Train Day is a commemorative event,” SLO Railroad Museum Board Vice-President Stephanie Hovanitz said. “We focus on when the railroad arrived in San Luis Obispo.”

Hovantiz’s husband and past board member Karl Hovanitz said the first train to San Luis Obispo was southbound from San Francisco.

“This year, we’re putting a twist on the event by celebrating the heritage of those who built the railroad,” Stephanie said.

Workers from Ireland and China had a huge impact on the railroad, so they will be honored for making the railroad happen, Stephanie said.

The event is a family-friendly and open to all ages.

“I think it’s a great family event,” Stephanie said. “Kids of all ages love it. As adults we still love trains. We’re all kids at heart.”

In addition to learning the history of trains and the railroad in SLO County, there will also be a chance for attendees to become a member of the museum.

“The youngest docent is 12 years old,” Stephanie said. “He’s been a train fan for as long as his mom can remember.”

The week before Train Day, a presentation about Southern Pacific arriving in San Luis Obispo in 1894 will be given on Saturday, May 4 at 11 a.m. This linked San Luis Obispo and other coastal cities with the railroad’s Coastline route to Northern California. The PowerPoint presentation will be given by Andrew Merriam, railroad historian and SLO Railroad Museum board member.

There will be no train rides during the event, though Stephanie said there will be a children’s area with toy trains. For those want to add a train ride to their day, the Coast Starlight departs the San Luis Obispo at 3:35 p.m. and arrives at the Paso Robles train station at 4:37 p.m. There are no trains going south after 4:37 p.m., though the RTA has buses running between the Paso Robles Train Station and SLO. To get the bus schedule and fares, go to SLOrta.org. To book a ticket and see fares for Amtrak, go to amtrak.com.

Admission to the museum is $5 per visitor 16 and older, $3 for those 4 through 15 and free for museum members and children 3 and younger.

For more information about Train Day or the SLO Railroad Museum, go to SLOrrm.com.