It may be rainy today, but summer is right around the corner and there are even more reasons to get outside in Hamilton County, Indiana. Why not explore the county by rail line? Our guest blogger Rachel Jackson, public relations coordinator for the Indiana Transportation Museum, gives you a sneak peek at the new season for this historic railway located right in the heart of the county.
The Indiana Transportation Museum is a great place to start planning your summer adventures. The first weekend in May kicks off the season open for this historical gem, and offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy Hoosier heritage in a new way. Come Learn about Indiana's railroad history and experience it first hand with National Train Day Saturday, May 7. Festivities include free admission to the open-air railroad museum in Noblesville's Forest Park as well as discounted fare for The Great Towns Train, with a donation of a non-perishable food item to benefit Hamilton County food pantries. One donated item gives you 1 off a round-trip ticket. If you donate a grocery bag full of items, you will receive one free round-trip ticket to use that day. The Great Towns Train schedule includes two round-trip trains that will make stops in Noblesville, Arcadia and Tipton. This is a perfect chance for riders to spend the afternoon shopping and exploring the county seat and two of Hamilton County's quaint towns. Visitors to Forest Park on Train Day are also welcome to attend a volunteer open house held on the museum grounds from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This is a great opportunity to learn about the duties of coach attendants, brakemen, conductors as well as electrical/mechanical and locomotive engineers. On Sunday of opening weekend, May 8, the Indiana Transportation Museum will run its annual, La Bella Donna, or "beautiful woman train" in honor of Mother's Day. The La Bella Donna train will depart from the Forest Park Train Station and includes a buffet lunch for moms and their families at The Elks Club in Tipton. This is a reservation only event. All food proceeds from La Bella Donna will go to the Elks Cancer Fund. Even if you can't make it on an Indiana Transportation Museum excursion in May, mark your calendar for other excursion trains: Caboose Trains on First Fridays, Forest Park Sunday Caboose, Dinner in the Diner, The Hamiltonian, Pizza Plus Express and Dinner or a Movie. Many festival trains are scheduled too: Arcadia Mayfest, Cicero Fireworks Train in July and Tipton Porkfest and Atlanta New Earth Festival in September. There are more than two hundred excursion train rides in total this year. "This season is sure to be our best yet, said ITM's Visitor Services Manager Sarah Ferguson, "We now have 23 named trains, up from 19 in 2010. Our variety of family friendly event trains and festival trains provides something for everyone."