NOTC kicks off 17th Annual Orphan Train Rider Celebration
A Sneak Peak at the Train Station launched the 17th Annual Celebration of Orphan Train Riders Thursday night at the National Orphan Train Complex.
Friday morning there was a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony for the Train Station, which houses Jacobus Gallery and The Legend train car exhibit.
Celebration events continue throughout Friday and Saturday.
The Legend train car was originally part of the Marion Belt and Chingawasa Railroad. When it was abandoned, the car was purchased by a Marion dentist, Dr. C.C. Jones.
Jones used the car for his dental clinic.
When Jones moved into a brick and mortar building, the car served as his daughter Mabel's playhouse.
In 1919, the car housed Mrs. P.F. Jones while she built a new home.
The car was then hauled to the Holub farm and used as a chicken coop when Mabel married Henry Holub.
By 2005, the car had been moved back into Marion and was near a creek's edge.
The Legend was saved by Robert Collins's Territorial Magazine article, “The Marion Belt and Chingawasa Springs: Kansas's First Excursion Railroad.”
With the car fated for demolition, Susan Sutton, president of the National Orphan Train Complex, requested that the car be donated for restoration after reading Collins's article.
The National Orphan Train Complex, with the aid of a grant from Duclos Foundation, transported the car to Concordia.
The Legend was moved to the Cloud County Historical Society Museum and later to POW Camp Concordia by Peltier Foundry to undergo restoration.
With the help of many contractors and researchers, new life was breathed into The Legend.
In August 2016, Peltier Foundry assisted with moving The Legend to its permanent home at the National Orphan Train Complex.
Two of the descendants of Orphan Train Riders attending the celebration this year shared their stories:
Gary Nolan, Aptos, Calif. - Father Michael Nolan and uncle Walter Nolan
“My favorite part of the Orphan Train Celebration is getting to sit in the restored railcar to experience vicariously my dad and uncle's trip with the New York Founding Hospital. In 1916 it took two and a half days for the six and eight-year-old boys to make the trip from the New York Grand Central Station to Maple Lake, Minnesota.
Once I started peeling off the layers of my dad's story, which he never talked about, it has been an emotional journey. It is important to keep the history of the Orphan Train movement. I'll certainly be back. The exhibits are always evolving at the National Orphan Train Complex.”
Brenda Futrell, Burlington – Grandmother Elsie Hill and her brothers Reuben and Albert Hill, placed out in Marian in 1911
“When my twins were in first grade they brought a book home about the Orphan Train. Something about it made me ask my mother what she knew about it. She said 'your dad's mother came from New York on an Orphan Train.' In the back of the book there was an address so I contacted the Children's Aid Society. My grandmother, Elise Hill, and her two brothers, Reuben and Albert, were placed out in Marian in 1911.
I've been to the celebration before, but this year is especially meaningful. My grandmother's photo with one brother is on a story board in the new train station with The Legend train car. Seeing it made me cry.
Every visit just gets better. Shaley and Lori and the volunteers are invaluable.”