School Field trips using rail instead of bus

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School Field trips using rail instead of bus
Posted by wilmette2210 on Monday, January 20, 2020 12:48 AM

Good Evening and Happy 2020,

Has anyone on here ever had a school field trip using either Amtrak or a Commuter Rail Service instead of the bus? I have seen several School Field trips at Ogilive including one on the train I take home from work. They let the field trip use one of the closed cars. Thanks.

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, January 20, 2020 7:37 AM

Our tourist line does school trips, but the train trip is the destination, not the means of reaching the destination.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 20, 2020 7:47 AM

Prior to Amtrak - B&O Passenger personnel actively sold school trips to Washington, DC for those students in their serving area.  Recall watching the Capitol Limited at Garrett, IN (Crew Change and water the engines) during the Spring of the the year would normally have 3 or 4 extra coaches devoted to High School trippers going to DC.

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Posted by York1 on Monday, January 20, 2020 8:13 AM

When I was in New Orleans, our school took an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC, using Amtrak.  Roundtrip, the kids spent two nights on the train, saving a night in a hotel if they had flown.

Some of our in-town field trips used the streetcars and buses.  They came right by the school, the fare was 15¢, and we didn't need to line up parent drivers.

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, January 20, 2020 9:43 AM

In the early 60s, our class trips to New York City were on the Long Island Rail Road. One year we toured the Empire State Building and Penn Station (fascinating- what a busy place that was!) before it was demolished. Another year it was Lincoln Center and the Guggenheim museum (boring to a 7 year old) Another year it was to Rockefeller Center and we watched the taping of a TV show- (crumpling up video tape sounds just like bacon frying) After about 1965 we stopped using the train and we took Greyhound type buses. I think it was because the LIRR was no longer part of the Pennsy and the rules might have changed but I don't know for sure.  

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Monday, January 20, 2020 10:04 AM

I don't remember the year (maybe about 1958 or '59), my grade school had access to a special train trip from Noblesville, IN to Indianapolis.  Students were taken to Noblesville by bus to board the train and then the busses met the students at Union Station in Indy to take them back to the school after the trip.

Unfortunately, my teacher was new and didn't know she had to sign-up for the trip so my class of about 30 students (out of 700 in the school) was the only one in the building that day.  She apologized, but that really didn't help me feel better about it.

So, my first train trip was about 50 years later on an Amtrak trip from N.C. to N.J. and the train was packed with people that grabbed the window seats, pulled the shades and went to sleep, so I saw nothing outside of the train.

Semper Vaporo

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, January 20, 2020 10:31 AM

Two experiences posted separately several years ago, but definitely fit this thread:

In the autumn of 1944 my 8th-grade class at Columbia Grammar School had a field trip to Washington DC, including gallery seats at a session of Congress, visits to the Washington and Lincoln Memorials, etc.  A chartered bus was used in Washington, when we did not walk, but the trip to and from Washington was on the B&O, boarding the connecting bus at the Columbus Columbus Circle B&O station and returning there.  We had a meal in the dining car both ways.

The events in Washington did not include any streetcar rides.  So the morning we were to leave, I got up early, packed, asked my roomate Victor Noder to handle my single suitcase, got a quick breakfast, and left the hotel, riding a PCC on 14th Street to New York Avenue and transferred to a Kenilworth or Seat Pleasant PCC.  At some point beyond the change to overhead wire and beyond the freight connection to the power plant trackage, I saw that the I needed to cut the trip short and not ride to the end of the line if I was to make it back to the hotel by 10AM, the time were told by Mr. Contini, our home-room teacher (and math teacher for all four grades) to assemble on the street to board the charter bus to Union Station. 

i did get back five minutes early, and the bus had not arrived, but the entire group waa already assembled on the sidewalk, and Mr. Condtini weas in a real rage, with a red face, as I stepped off the PCC.  I had never experienced from my own parents the tongue-lashing that he gave me!  Possibly I was denied desert in the diner on the return trip, but nothing more serious.

At Columbia Grammar Preparatory School I was assistant football-team Manager autumn 1946 in my Sophmore Year and Manager 1947 and 1948. CGS regularly played Woodmere Academy at their field on Long Island.  Campus Coach Lines was regularly used, but in 1947 I suggested we could save the school money by using a group rate on the LIRR, and the Woodmere LIRR station is close to the campus.  All went well in 1948, with the AA or CC 8th Avenue local to Penn Station, and a direct train, Penn to Penn via Far Rockaway, to Woodmere via Valley Stream.  From Penn on the return the students could go home directly, and of course I had all the information needed for the few that were unfamiliar with transit from Penn Station.  But the return train was one via Far Rockaway, and a few students accused me of being out-o-my mind when I asked them to board a train seemingly goinddg further away instead of returning, until I gave the needed explanation.

The 1948 was not quire as successful because I had not checked the timetable thoroughly enough.  We boarded the return-trip train at the same time.  However. it tool the connecting curve to Atlantic Avenue and we ended up at the Atlantic and Flatbush LIRR Terminal instead of Penn Station.  There were more students that need directions, but everyone got home OK.  In luck were my two cousins, football players, David Lewis, my age and in my class, and Kenneth, his younger brother, a Sophomore, since they lived in Flatbush and their Dad, my uncle Nat Levitch, owned and ran the drugstore directly across the street from the Terminal.  I took quite a ribbing about the mistake.

 

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Posted by NKP guy on Monday, January 20, 2020 11:01 AM

wilmette2210
Has anyone on here ever had a school field trip using either Amtrak or a Commuter Rail Service instead of the bus?

Yes, yes, and yes.

   Over the course of my 37 year teaching career I constantly took my students on field trips using rail transportation, both to get somewhere and as an end in itself.

To wit:  As a Head Start assistant (!) teacher in San Francisco in 1971 I took four four year olds on the Mission Street trackless trolley downtown, where we boarded the Powell-Hyde cable car and did a round trip. We then took the Market Street streetcar back to the Mission.  Total cost for 5 people: $2.50.  Another time our entire Head Start class took the SP commuter train one morning from SF to Burlingame and back.  About 40 of us made the trip.  The kids loved it.

As a high school teacher in suburban Cleveland in 1977 I took about 30 students (via the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit Lines, of course) downtown, where we boarded the (former) Erie Lackawanna commuter train and rode it about halfway to Youngstown; a school bus returned us home.  Because it was all in the evening it was too dark to see much after we left downtown Cleveland, but that wasn't a problem.  The kids loved it.

As a high school teacher in another district I frequently took my students to Cleveland just so they could ride the PCCs and light rail cars on the rapid transit..  We would tour the architectural wonders of downtown Cleveland and have a lunch before the school bus took us home.  The kids loved it.

At the same school I developed the AP US History program, and the big-deal field trip was the annual journey via Amtrak from Ohio to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Chicago.  Most of these kids had been on the Shaker Rapid already.  We boarded at either Canton (B'way Ltd.) or Alliance, maybe once at Cleveland, but I mainly wanted them to experience the dome cars of the Capitol Limited.  In Chicago we naturally rode the El and subway to either Evanston (tour N'wstern) or to Hyde Park (tour UC or see Museum of S & I).  When we returned to Ohio at the usual 3 AM hour there would be a schoolbus waiting to take us home. The kids loved it.

Over the years I grew adept at dealing with Amtrak's group travel department and learned the several ways we could get a free ticket or two.  In this way, financial help was there for students who needed it.  

When I look back on those attempts to get students to appreciate rail travel I am grateful, but also I reflect, "What in hell was I thinking?"  I could have been sued or lost my job any number of times!  We didn't even have cell phones.  

One last thing:  In the 1980's I sponsored a railfan club (we called it the Guild of Railway Enthusiasts) in our high school.  It was popular with both boys and girls and featured field trips (via schoolbus) to various sites in the area so we could watch and photograph trains.  One president of this school club has since made a living as a boomer engineer on various railroads.

 

 

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Monday, January 20, 2020 2:06 PM

   When I was in fifth grade, in Tela Honduras in 1950 or 1951, there was a track meet in El Progreso involving four or five schools from neighboring towns.  Early in the morning we boarded a single coach pulled by a steam locomotive.  I hardly remember anything about the competition, but on the return trip we were delayed by a derailment blocking the track until late at night.  Most of the other kids were dozing in their seats, but I was wide awake the whole time.  When the line was finally cleared and we passed the accident site, we could just make out in the dark the freight cars lying on their sides along the ROW.  I think it was around midnight when we got home.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, January 20, 2020 3:50 PM

I recall a field trip in 2nd grade (about 1953) to tour the Bowman Dairy bottling plant in Forest Park,  IL.  We walked to the nearby C&NW station and took a mid-morning commuter train to Forest Park, walking to and from that station and returned back on the train. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 20, 2020 3:56 PM

My nose will never forget a school trip in 5th or 6th grade by bus from my school in Catonsville, MD to the Glatfelter paper plant in Spring Grove, PA.  The stench of papermaking is something hard to forget.

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Posted by Expressman's Kid on Monday, January 20, 2020 8:07 PM

Approximately 30 years ago, as part of Operation Life Saver, the Wheeling & Lake Erie and the Orrville Railroad Historical society using the latter’s equipment ran a special Girl Scout train from the Timken Company Faircrest Plant spur adjacent to the W&LE Canton, Ohio Gambrinus yard to Orrville and back.
My sadness and envy at not being able to accompany my Girl Scout Leader wife and two Girl Scout daughters, (females only allowed aboard) was assuaged when they arrived back home and the daughters said, “Daddy, we saw you wave from the Richville Ave. bridge.” 
 
“Mom!  99 is blowing for 16th Street.  Dad will be home soon.”
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Posted by alphas on Monday, January 20, 2020 9:31 PM

My older daughter is a teacher and 5 years ago she was one of 3 class teachers who took about 50 5th graders (including my granddaughter) on a class trip using Amtrak overnight from Miami to DC.   Of course, Amtrak was its normal self and was over 7 hours late arriving in DC, resulting on their missing out on several of the planed activities.    It was not a fun trip.    My daughter and grandaughter  had permission to fly on the return trip so they missed taking the return trip which arrived about 8 hours late.     Let's just say Amtrak didn't do anything to make regular train riders out of either the teachers or students and any chaperon parents.    The coach could have been cleaner including the bathrooms.    Several of the Amtrak employees were pleasant but the majority weren't.

They used Amtrak as they were given their own coach for a price that was cheaper than taking 2 buses.    The teachers did feel the kids probably slept better on Amtrak then they would have on the buses but that was the only positive of this Amtrak trip.   

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 20, 2020 10:06 PM

alphas
My older daughter is a teacher and 5 years ago she was one of 3 class teachers who took about 50 5th graders (including my granddaughter) on a class trip using Amtrak overnight from Miami to DC.   Of course, Amtrak was its normal self and was over 7 hours late arriving in DC, resulting on their missing out on several of the planed activities.    It was not a fun trip.    My daughter and grandaughter  had permission to fly on the return trip so they missed taking the return trip which arrived about 8 hours late.     Let's just say Amtrak didn't do anything to make regular train riders out of either the teachers or students and any chaperon parents.    The coach could have been cleaner including the bathrooms.    Several of the Amtrak employees were pleasant but the majority weren't.

They used Amtrak as they were given their own coach for a price that was cheaper than taking 2 buses.    The teachers did feel the kids probably slept better on Amtrak then they would have on the buses but that was the only positive of this Amtrak trip.   

During my Dispatching career on CSX, Amtrak would operate Special Trains to transport the Palm Beach County Safety Patrol from West Palm Beach to DC.  In the 1990's era they would operate a special leaving WPB on Thursday and returning to WPB on Tuesday for three weekends in January.

When I last worked, the Safety Patrol passengers commandeered the NB Silver Meteor on Thursday from WPB to DC and the SB Silver Meteor from DC to arrive WPB on Tuesday.  I have no idea what if any arrangements were made for normal paying passengers that wanted to use the Silver Meteor for those trips.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 2:50 AM

Reflecting on my previous post, on the Washington via B&O trip, we used the AA or CC 8th Avenue local between Columbia Grammar and the Columbus Circle B&O (bus) station, but a chartered bus instead of available PCC streetcars (requiring a change, yes) between Union Station and the hotel, I think the Statler if it is or was on 14th Street.

In NY. at CGS and CGS preparatory. all field trips within Manattan and to the McCoombs Dam athletic fields in the Bronx were by subway or in a few cases transit buses.  i even hace memories of going with the 3rd-grade class in 1938  to a Polo Ground Giants game by the 9th Avenue Elevated.  And a class trip to the Palasades Amusement Park started on the 10th Avenue streetcar on Broadway, a convertable in summer conviguraion, the Fort Lee - 125th Street Ferry, and the PSNJ bus up the hill to the amusement park.

And repeating the Washington experience, and telling some classmates not to bother looking for me, took the PSNJ bus to Weehawken, rode PSNJ streetcars (including the Hoboken El), and went home via Hudson and Manhattan and the subway.  Cap Fields was the homeroom teacher, and when the treacher who led the Palesades tour told him of what I did, he must have replied with approval.  I never heard anything or got any punishment.  Feilds himself was a railfan and eventualy did join the ERA and was NY Division Chairman.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 4:20 PM

Kinda like Larry said, the train was the destination more than the means of transportation. Back in the 1960's the Milwaukee Road still ran hourly commuter trains between Minneapolis and St. Paul's downtowns, about 10 miles. 

One day in 1968 I'd guess, we took schoolbusses from Woodlake School in Richfield (1st tier suburb south of Minneapolis) to the Milwaukee Road depot in downtown Minneapolis and all took the train to St.Paul Union depot (SPUD), then the busses took us back home. Unfortunately the windows were very high up compared to the seats, and we had to reman seated, so all we could see was the upper stories of an occassional building go by.

I did rise up on my seat just long enough to catch a glimpse of the Mississippi as we went over the shortline bridge though.

https://www.johnweeks.com/bridges/pages/r05.html

Stix
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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 6:40 PM

BaltACD
During my Dispatching career on CSX, Amtrak would operate Special Trains to transport the Palm Beach County Safety Patrol from West Palm Beach to DC.  In the 1990's era they would operate a special leaving WPB on Thursday and returning to WPB on Tuesday for three weekends in January. When I last worked, the Safety Patrol passengers commandeered the NB Silver Meteor on Thursday from WPB to DC and the SB Silver Meteor from DC to arrive WPB on Tuesday.  I have no idea what if any arrangements were made for normal paying passengers that wanted to use the Silver Meteor for those trips.

In 1954, all of the schools in the greater Cincinnati Area used a B&O special train for their class  trips to Washington DC. Each school had their own itinerary which varied by what the school chose such as different cities being included such as New York. My school chose Baltimore and Annapolis. We had half of a coach for ourselves since my class only had 40 students and some could not go. Train had about 20 cars and included a coach observation car. Ran as a second section to #12, the day train and preceeded #2 the National Limited. B&O had a big business running excursions to Wasington. And the cost was $52 for everything, all meals, bus transportation between Baltimore-Annapolis-Washington DC, and sightseeing in Washington DC, hotels (8 to a room). No meals on the train for us, they took us into the coffee shop in Washington DC for breakfast. We returned from Washington on an extra coach added to #1 (National Limited) And we got back to Cincinnati (Winton Place station) at around 7:00 AM. I spent a lot of time in the vestibule looking out the dutch door. Should have had goggles since I got something in an eye and had to see the Dr to get it out. Why today, they don't allow you to open the top of the door.

And like Dave, I took off on the night some went to a theater and rode the streetcar out to Cabin John and back. Don't think I asked or thought about getting permission. Things didn't seem as scary as todays events. Better to ask forgiveness than ask permission. We had lost our PCC cars in Cincinnati. 

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Posted by usmc1401 on Thursday, January 23, 2020 6:39 PM

When high school in 1974 a trip to the San Diego zoo via Amtrak. We kids with one teacher drove from Torrance Ca to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal and boarded a San Diegan to San Diego to vsit the zoo. About one hundred kids went on this trip. Rode a San Diego Transit bus to and from the station and zoo. Back at home by nine or so that night. Orange county California was wide open country at that time.

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Posted by xjqcf on Sunday, January 26, 2020 12:30 PM

Another early 60's Long Island story here. My 9th grade Space Science class made a trip to the Heyden Planetarium (must have been 1963-1964. I recal we had a reserved car, one of the old heavyweight parlor cars - enjoyed the nice smooth ride in a plush if by then stuffy swivelling seat. Sadly I don't recall the power, was likely a C420 Of course at Jamaica we had to change to an MP54 electric to get to Penn Station, the Port Jefferson branch not then being electrified to Huntington. At Penn Station we were herded to the 8th Ave Subway and were let onto the platform via a gate opened for our group by a TA employee. We debarked at the 81st St station, right at the Planetarium. I don't have any specific memory of the show not of the return; the getting there is prettty much all I can recall of this adventure.

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