Train Day Celebration

Every year in May, we commemorate the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869) at the National Postal Museum. This year is extra special! We’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad and USPS’ new “Golden Spike” stamp. The Transcontinental Railroad’s train tracks connected East and West, allowing the Post Office to quickly move mail by trains across the entire country, and trains have played important role in getting the mail delivered and keeping our country connected.

On Train Day, experience the Railway Post Office by checking out the inside of the train car and find out how train conductors use whistle signals to communicate. Learn from our interactive carts about the hidden voices and stories of Chinese American Railroad workers and their contributions in the building of our nation. This program is free and open to the public of all ages.

Model Train Railroad Displays: Kids can enjoy the magical, miniature world of model railroads running throughout the museum thanks to the following program partners: the Rappahannock Model Railroaders, the Washington, Virginia & Maryland Garden Railway Society, and the Northern Virginia NTRAK. Added this year will be toy trains to touch and play with in our Byrne Education Loft.

Railway Post Office (RPO) Training School: Our tiniest RPO clerks (ages 2-5, up to 45 pounds) can ride on a toy steam train and collect mailbags in between stations. Older kids can learn all about the specialized jargon that was used by RPO clerks and become a certified Junior RPO Lingo Expert.

“Meet” Owney the Dog: Owney was a scruffy mutt who rode with the mailbags on RPO train cars across the country in the late 19th century. The RPO clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot and good luck charm since no train Owney rode was ever in a wreck. Say hello to Owney, track his travels and hear all about his adventures.

Train Whistles: Crack the secret code of the railroad crews as you learn to communicate by train whistle. After you master the skill, take a train-shaped whistle home with you.

Railway Post Office (RPO) Sorting Challenge: Do you have what it takes to be an RPO mail clerk? Board an authentic train car and see if you can sort the mail before time runs out!

Story Time: Join us for a special train-themed story time featuring books about trains and the brave and perseverant Chinese railroad workers who made the Transcontinental Railroad possible.

Asian Pacific American Poetry Workshop with Regie Cabico 5-6pm in the Byrne Education Classroom: Come and join award winning poet Regie Cabico in a free poetry workshop open to all in exploring Asian American history and identity, focusing on the theme of bringing formerly invisible aspects of our shared history to the national stage and the contributions of Asian Americans in the building of our nation. Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Poetry After Hours: Poetry Im/migration, Labor and Trains 6-8pm in the Byrne Education Classroom:
A special poetry reading and presentation by poets Paisley Rekdal (Utah’s State Poet Laureate), Regie Cabico, and Marilyn Chin. They will share recent work about the transcontinental railroad, its legacy, and connections to Asian American identities. Refreshments will be provided. Cosponsored by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

The event is finished.


May 11, 2019


10:00 am - 4:00 pm



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National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002
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