Fernwood celebrates National Train Day

Published 12:38 pm Friday, May 10, 2013

Games and prizes are the order of the day as Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve joins the historic 1892 Niles train station and hundreds of other train stations, museums and gardens across America to celebrate National Train Day on Saturday.
Amtrak created the holiday six years ago, in 2008, to commemorate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad and to remind people that “trains matter.” Each year, the day falls on the Saturday closest to May 10 — the anniversary of the 1869 joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads with the Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah. All Amtrak depots do something special as part of the nationwide open house of sorts. Museums and other train-related organizations are invited to open their doors, too, and Amtrak supplies them with booklets and engineer hats for the kids.
Fernwood’s Railway Garden was created in 2009 by landscape architect Paul Busse and his company, Applied Imagination. The company has hundreds of installations across the country. Locally, Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and the Chicago Botanic Garden also have Busse train displays.
Famous for incorporating local landmarks, Busse has put the Niles trains station, the Chapin Mansion, the St. Joseph Lighthouse, and Notre Dame’s Golden Dome into Fernwood’s Railway Garden — along with a pond, a waterfall, trestles and bridges — all made of natural materials.
“There are four different track levels,” said Fernwood’s special projects manager, Jan Ferris. “We have four different [G-scale model] trains that run. It keeps the kids running around looking at this one and that one. It keeps them involved. It’s been very popular.”
Fernwood’s National Train Day Celebration takes place from noon to 6 p.m. In addition to the Amtrak-provided goodies, there’ll be a Railway Garden Scavenger Hunt, coloring pages and children’s prizes.
Fernwood’s regular admission fees apply: Children younger than 5 years old are admitted free. Children 6 to 12 are $3. Youth, 13 to 18 are $4., and adults, 19 to 64 are $7. Seniors 65 and older are $5. There is no extra charge for the train exhibit.
Fernwood members are free.