New York By Rail 14th ed. - Page 41

Trails & Rails Amtrak and the National Park Service partner to enrich the train travel experience. E ver looked at the beautiful scenery passing by your train window and wanted to know more about it? If you you ride ride the Maple Leaf or Adirondack north between the Hudson Valley and Central New York on weekends from May through October, you can find find out. Since 2002, Amtrak and the National Park Service have partnered to run Trails & Rails, a national program featuring volunteer guides to provide commentary on selected historic sites along selected trains across the country. Trails & Rails talks primarily take place in the café car, but guides also walk through the train, identifiable identifiable by their uniforms—or sometimes period costumes. “We’re storytellers,” says Joe LaLumia, Trails & Rails’ New York State volunteer coordinator, coordinator, based based near near Hudson. Hudson. “The “The National National Parks were founded about 100 years ago, about the same time as the railroads. Originally, you visited the parks by train. By sharing the National Park Service’s story and railway information, we make a connection between the route we’re traveling on and history.” Guides on the Maple Leaf, between Albany-Rensselaer and Utica, discuss the Erie Canalway National Corridor, home of the famous canal, Underground Railroad and Women’s Suffrage Movement. On the Adirondack, guides from Croton-Harmon to Hudson talk about the Hudson Hudson Highlands, Highlands, Foundry Cove, Bannerman’s Island, West Point Military Academy, the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts and the Hudson River School of of Art. Art. From From Albany-Rens- selaer to Port Henry or Westport, guides relay stories of Albany political intrigue; intrigue; the Erie Canal; Saratoga Springs’ Revolutionary War battles; and Lake George, Lake Placid and Lake Champlain. But every program is unique. “Each volunteer does everything a little bit differently, and the questions we’re asked are often about things we hadn’t planned on talking about,” says Lalumia. “We find find a story that interests the people who are there and share it with them. The fun is in the interaction between the volunteers volunteers and and visitors.” visitors.” Trails & Rails attracts riders from around the world. “We’ve had people from more countries than I can think of,” says Lalumia. “Some Australian visitors contacted me recently—they’re coming this fall and wanted to make sure we’ll be onboard when they’re taking the train. That’s astounding.” Trails & Rails has 48 guides in New York State (excluding a separate program in New York City), reports Lalumia, and is seeking more volunteers. volunteers. Free Free training in regional history and basic safety takes place in New York City. To find find out more, email or visit sandrails/volunteer.htm. New York By Rail | 39