The union of railroad tourist attractions and environments with urban districts and parks is a special one, but many examples abound in North America where attractions like Headwaters Junction benefit their local communities with tourism, annual programming, and overall cultural enrichment. Here are a few.
The California State Railroad Museum is at the heart of Old Sacramento’s Historic District, blocks away from the city’s newest sports and entertainment complex and is visited by over 3 million people a year. The Sacramento Southern Railroad hosts 100,000 passengers a year along the riverfront and trails. Plans call for the railroad operations to expand into part of the Railyards development.
Located in the riverfront district of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation was recently constructed to create a public home for Portland’s historic steam locomotives. Throughout the year they operate excursions and trips on the Oregon Pacific Railroad through dense urban districts and scenic trail and parkland.
Nashville Steam removed a historic steam locomotive from a city park in 2019 and is restoring the engine for passenger excursion service and educational programs that depart Nashville’s Riverfront Park. Future plans for the park will include a permanent home for the locomotive and Nashville Steam’s operations.
Toronto’s Roundhouse Park is a mixed-use destination and public park built into a former railroad yard. While full-size trains do not operate here, the many uses of the facility throughout the year, combined with a brewery, museum and restaurant show the potential of a unique setting combined with special programs and events.