Perhaps Amtrak is a little late for many rail fans, but the Amtrak history website led to me losing a few hours last night while I poked around the various features. Amtrak will never have the glamour of the Baltimore and Ohio’s Royal Blue service. But for those of us still attracted to the possibilities of passenger rail service, Amtrak is what we’ve got. After 40 years of service, there’s some stuff to look back on.
Features on the website include a chronological history, a virtual tour of the Amtrak Exhibit Train, an online archive of photographs, promotional material, timetables, and ephemera, and a blog. Those of you who enjoy 70s and 80s graphics will find a treasure chest worth of ad porn to click through. The search function for the Archives works well, but the related site The Museum of Railway Timetables (yes! there is such a thing, and I admit, I looked at it) requires too much clicking, requires downloading images to see them clearly, and the thumbnails are a bit small to really browse effectively.
It’s a corporate website, so this isn’t a place to complain about delays on your recent trip. Rail has generated a lot of chatter in the last ten years, so from this place, it is intriguing to look at the ephemera of the most difficult years for passenger rail in the US.