Kids go crazy at Railroad days event
Local third and fourth graders got a hands-on lesson in Truckee’s rich railroad history last week as part of the first ever Truckee Railroad Days Field Trip.
More than 458 students at Glenshire Elementary, Truckee Elementary and Prosser Creek Charter School gathered at the Union Pacific Rail Yard around 10 a.m. to tour railroad cars and engines, and hear stories about how the railroad came to Truckee and the impact that it had on the mountain town.
“This is the first year we’ve done this kind of enrichment program along with Railroad Days,” said field trip coordinator John Sorrentino. “Over the past few years, we’ve really wanted to shift the focus of [Railroad Days] from a commercial event to a community event – namely a fun, educational community event. We thought, what better way to do that than to start by getting our children involved.”
Groups of smiling students, parent chaperones and teachers moved through six track stations.
Children hung from the cabooses and explored old baggage cars and passenger cabins, while volunteers and train buffs from the Feather River Railroad Society, Truckee Donner Railroad Society, Union Pacific Railroad and the Truckee community tried to present Railroad 101 in a way that entertained and enlightened the young crowd.
“Have you ever been on a airplane before and seen where they load up all of the suitcases?” asked one volunteer. “That’s sort of what this train baggage car is like. It’s 85-feet long and made of aluminum, like a giant Coca-Cola can.”
He later had the kids jump up and down – much to their delight – to feel the special shock absorbers that passenger trains had for the riders’ comfort.
“This is so cool,” several students remarked.
Others ran between the tracks, eager to show their friends this and that, and share what they’d learned.
“We thought that learning about the railroads was a natural fit with our kids’ state and local history curriculum,” Sorrentino said. “We’re trying to show them the significance of the railroad and its influence on the industrialization of the world.”
Sorrentino said that it was also a great way to start off the school year and allow students a chance to bond with one another and their teachers.
“Usually field trips take place at the end of the year, right before school let’s out for summer when it’s almost too late,” he said. “This way, we can give students a chance to experience the kind of bonding that comes from an event like this right at the beginning so they can carry it with them throughout the rest of the year.”
He also wanted to thank the 75 teachers, 60 parent volunteers, 25 event volunteers and two Truckee police officers for donating their time to make the event a success.
“I plan to meet with teachers down the road to see if they thought this was a useful event,” Sorrentino said. “If so, we’d really like to expand on the program next year to include more schools, and possibly even students from Colfax and Auburn.
“This area has so much history to offer, it would be great to share it with as many of our children as possible.”
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