Published on June 1st, 2013 | by Manoj
National Train Day
Like many young children these days, my son is quite taken with the Thomas & Friends television show. Though months away from being 2 years old, he can name every one of the characters – predominantly anthropomorphous trains – no matter the scene or how complex their names are. He’s been able to do this for months now, which amazes me even more. Over the past 22 months, watching Thomas & Friends on the Sprout Network nearly every day has endeared the series to me as well. I appreciate the show’s innocence and extremely simple view of problem resolution: Trains do something they’re not supposed to…Sir Topham Hatt becomes “cross”…Trains realize the error of their ways and right the wrongs…Sir Topham Hatt tells them that they’re “really useful engines” (the ultimate compliment for an anthropomorphous train). The show does a great job of conveying the ideas of what constitutes misbehavior, accountability to some authority figure and acknowledging and correcting that misbehavior – all things that good dads try to instill in their children.
However, what I like most of all about my son’s fascination with Thomas & Friends – at the risk of sounding like a stereotypical dad – is the love of trains and machinery it has given him. [Insert Tim Allen man grunt here.]
That’s right. I am exceedingly proud to say that the following words are part of my 22 month old son’s vocabulary:
- Steam Engine
- Fire Engine
- Tractor Trailer
- Garbage Trucks
- Dump Trucks
- Race Cars
Granted, not all of these wonderful additions to his vocabulary are due to the television show, but it was responsible for getting the ball rolling on my son’s present love affair with all things motorized and mechanical. So when my wife told me about a National Train Day event in Flemington, NJ, I jumped at the chance to take my son down there and further his love affair.
We had a wonderful time at this event. My son absolutely loved being able to see the different types of engines and the colorful cabooses. It was a learning experience for me as well. The cabooses that the diesel and steam engines pulled in are privately owned. The owners contribute the engines and cabooses – operated by the Black River & Western Railroad – and provide staff to explain to visitors the history and mechanical uniqueness of the cabooses. It was really fascinating to see what the gold standard of transport was just a few years ago, and to see how much that has changed. It wasn’t just my son and me who had a good time – I had my two nieces and their parents in tow, and they all loved climbing in and out of the cabooses as well.
The highlight of the day came when the steam engine pulled in. There are few modes of transportation that are as awesome and romantic as the steam locomotive. They are grand and powerful on a scale that not many of us get to witness these days in our increasingly hyper-automated and super-efficient world. Just standing near one when it lets out steam, rings its bell and blows its whistle takes a certain amount of fortitude – and makes your man cells tingle. *Grunt*
There was no cost to attend this event. In case the notion of looking at trains is not enough of a draw, adjacent to the train station is the Liberty Village premium outlet mall where you can do a bit of shopping. Outside of the National Train Day event, the Black River & Western Railroad offers excursions throughout the year which allow you and your kids to ride the trains on short trips. More information on the excursions can be found here.
I highly recommend this event. Check out the National Train Day website for events near you.