By Alan Sorensen
The U.S. Postal Services Celebrate The Century Express, a special five-car museum-like Amtrak train has arrived in Havre.
Workers will spend today setting the train up for public tours on the siding just west of the depot Tuesday. The doors will open to children tours at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
Were hoping to show it to a lot of youngsters with early tours from 8 a.m. to probably noon, depending on the response I get from 4-H, day care, those kinds of things, Havre Post Master Rich OLeary said in an interview last month.
There will be an official opening ceremony at about 10 a.m. and the train will be opened to tours by the general public at about 11 or so, OLeary said. There will be no charge.
The train is a historical throw back to the period between the Revolutionary and First World wars when U.S. postal officials applied themselves to improving transportation of the mail. It consists of an Amtrak P42 Genesis series diesel locomotive, baggage car, modern Amfleet exhibit car featuring Celebrate The Century stamps and related educational displays, restored vintage Railway Post Office (RPO), and classic railroad business car.
The RPO car is set up just like the RPO cars were in the old days with mail slots along the walls and work benches. Fully operational until the 1970, the RPO car is making the tour on loan from noted rail historian James Bistline of Alexandria, Va.
The train will be rolling in from Fargo, N.D., for its short hiatus in Havre before moving on to Whitefish, where it will be on display July 2-4. The trains trip through Montana is part of an 18-month, 100-city tour around the country that began in Tampa, Florida, on March 11.
The train is part of the Celebrate The Century commemorative stamp and education program that highlights some of the most memorable and significant people, places, events and trends of each decade of the 20th
The Celebrate The Century education series was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and 12 leading educational associations. Free educational kits distributed by request to schools across the country involve some 300,000 classrooms of students.
The Express capitalizes on the fascination Americans have with railroads and creates an opportunity to deliver history in an entertaining manner. It will give area residents the chance to reflect on the role the railroad and the U.S. mail have played in the Havres development and history.