The Piedmont Train pulled out of the Cary station at 11:58 am and headed to Burlington with 62 Springmoor residents and staff members. The whistle blew and the passengers felt the same delight that a child feels on their first excursion on the train at Pullen Park.
Don Miles and his wife, Sally, were among the group that joined the Flag Day adventure to Burlington. Don said when he heard the whistle blow and the sound of the train rolling down the tracks the college memories flooded back to him. Sally said he used to meet her at the train station when she returned from college to their small central Florida hometown. With a wink she said, “This is when we were courting.” Don did say the “clickity-clack” of the train has since disappeared. The Piedmont train was a smooth ride and the accommodations were beyond anyone’s expectations!
David Robinson, a Springmoor resident and our train expert, helped plan the trip with the Resident Life Activities Coordinators. David is a Safety Outreach Consultant with the NCDOT. He works on the BeRailSafe committee to promote train safety throughout the state. With his help, the Springmoor group was greeted with their own train car and wonderful Train Host, Gayle McCurry.
Each train has volunteer hosts that greet passengers and help explain what they are seeing along the way. This group, made up of over 100 train enthusiast volunteers from across the state, love to share their passion for train travel. Gayle pointed out the sights along the way – whether they were approaching the next town, traveling over the Haw River or in the woods – she was there to help answer everyone’s questions and provide a little history of train travel.
Beth Estrada, the Springmoor Food Service Catering Manager, traveled with the group too. She brought bagged lunches for everyone. The delicious turkey bacon ranch wraps were a wonderful addition to the trip.
The train arrived in Burlington at 12:55 pm with The Whistlestop Exhibit as the next destination. In the 1800s, the engine house and The Company Shops Station was built. Maintenance for all of the train cars and the train station was part of these original buildings. The 18,000 square foot building is now home to the NC Railroad Company’s Whistlestop Museum and is filled with models of the former Company Shops, photographs, murals and train cars.
Not to be delayed, when the train blew it’s whistle, the crew and passengers were on board again headed back to Cary. The blue, silver and red Piedmont Train was painted to match the NC State flag. As David explained it, there are now two engines on every trip. It’s a “push-pull” style of travel. The train does not need to turn around on the tracks as it heads back to its original location. Two more daily trains will be added to the route in 2017 along with the rail infrastructure and improvements provided by a federal grant. With all of the talk at Springmoor, there will most definitely be another trip planned. The excitement of train travel, like any child on a trip, left everyone asking, “When can we do it again?!”