Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Busing to the ‘Burg

Sometimes the best way to take in a train is to take a bus. VMT is hosting a trip this Saturday, August 9 to the annual Lynchburg Rail Day at the Boonsboro Ruritan Club just off Rt. 501. A 1991 Gillig bus formerly used by Valley Metro will leave the museum at 9 a.m.

Following the Rail Day stop, the bus odyssey will continue with visits to rail sites around Lynchburg such as the lower basin, the Kemper Street Amtrak Station, the Norfolk Southern yard near River Ridge and perhaps others if time permits. We will return to Roanoke by 6 p.m. The bus ride costs $20.00 per person. Lunch and Rail Day admission ($5 per person, with children 12 and under free with a paying adult) are additional costs.

What will you find at Rail Day? Operating model railroad layouts, vendors, photography and slide shows, clinics, prizes and raffles. You can also purchase food and drinks and interact with other rail enthusiasts.

Featured layouts include Thirty Inch Rails to Portland, an On30 modular layout constructed by Noll Horan for the 2007 Narrow Gauge Convention in Portland, Maine; The Milwaukee Road in Milwaukee's Menomonee River Valley in HO scale, a project layout George Riley is building for Railroad Model Craftsman magazine; an N-Trak modular layout by LyNchburg Area N-Scalers; and an HO 1945 Northern Pacific steam locomotive servicing facility by Fred Meyer.

The Rail Day site is
www.blueridgenrhs.org/rail_day.htm. To reserve a seat on the bus, call 540-342-5670.

The bus itself represents a rich transportation heritage. Jacob Gillig first opened a carriage and wagon shop in San Francisco, CA
in 1890. By the late 1920s, the company produced pleasure boats and heavy trucks and, a few years later, school buses. After producing troop transports for WWII Gillig resumed the manufacture of school buses and, by the 1970s, transit buses.

Interactions on the bus ride should be half (or more) of the day’s fun. Considering the nature of rail fan(atic)s, I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the day, the group had built a model railroad on board and gotten it running.

All aboard!

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