Page 4 - Galveston RR Museum Newsletter - April 2023
P. 4

It  will  be  good  to  have  the  Theater  Building  back  in   and Mexico.  Other cities established orphan trains as well.
        operation.  It not only serves as the focus of the Museum’s   Railroads gave discounted fares to the children, as well as
        collection  of  china  and  other  artifacts,  but  is  used  during   the Children’s Aid Society members who traveled with them.
        Polar Express as a place where items can be purchased by       It was reported that some children were delighted to find
        participants.                                           new families, while others were angry at being sent away
                                                                when  they  still  had  relatives  “back  home.”    It  could  be  a
                         Orphan Train Exhibit                   somewhat humiliating experience.  Children were prodded
                         By Mary Jo Naschke,                    and  poked  and  their  teeth  examined  by  prospective
                   Publicist and Marketing Director             adoptive parents.  In some places the children were taken
                                                                to the local playhouse and put up on the stage where they
           In  the  early  1800s,  the  number  of  homeless  and   could be examined by prospective parents - the origin of “up
        orphaned children grew very large.  In New York City, it was   for adoption.”
        estimated  that  there  were  10,000  to  30,000  of  these      It was also reported that the large majority of the children
        children, many of whom were orphaned when their parents   sent to country homes did well.  There were, however, some
        died in yellow fever, typhoid or flu epidemics, or they were   reports that the children were essentially slave labor.
        simply abandoned.                                          The Orphan Train program declined as the demand for
           A  minister  named  Charles  Brace  attempted  to  assist   children able to be adopted in the midwestern states was
        these children, first by taking them in, giving them shelter   reduced, and by the establishment of in-state agencies to
        and  education.    However,  the  number  of  children  grew   care for their orphan populations.
        overwhelming and another solution was sought.              The Railroad Museum’s Orphan Train exhibit, films, and
           Charitable institutions, including Rev. Brace’s Children’s   presentations opened April 15 and will run the course of the
        Aid  Society  were  established  in  New  York  City  to  place   year.  A  members  preview  and  reception  was  presented
        children in foster homes.                               April 14 with author Sandra McKay reading from her book A
           First,  individual  children  were  sent  to  farms  in   Place for Me, followed by a book signing and refreshments.
        Connecticut, Pennsylvania and rural New York.  Ideally the      The  next  day,  Saturday,  Dorothy  Lund-Nelson,
        farmers and their families would adopt the children, house   presented a history re-enactment program to the general
        them,  feed  them,  provide  education,  and  in  return,  have   population that was rich in actual events and experiences of
        them work on the farms.                                 children who were placed on the trains. Special thanks to
           This placement effort expanded to the so-called Orphan   the Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, Kansas, and the
        Trains.  Instead  of  children  being  placed  individually  in   families  who  contributed  memorabilia,  documents  and
        homes,  large  numbers  of  children  were  loaded  on   photographs. Especially Michael Frances for his support in
        passenger  cars  to  be  transported.    The  name  “Orphan   making this exhibit possible. It truly is a remarkable time in
        Train” is misleading.  Many of the children were not orphans,   America’s history.
        but their parents were unable, or unwilling, to care for them.
                                                                              Mobile Library Car Update
           The trains ran to neighboring states, and to the Midwest.
        Between 1954 and 1929, it is estimated that about 200,000      Construction  of  the  “Arthur  Carmody  Memorial
        children were transported to rural midwestern locations.     Library”  car  is  well  underway,  led  by  Jeff  Gilyani  and
                                                                member Dennis McNatt.  When completed, this will be the
                                                                only fully mobile railroad library in the United States.
                                                                    The floor is now installed, the generator is in place and
                                                                the walls are being finished.

        Children aboard an orphan train coach.

           The  first  orphan  train  left  New  York  in  Oct.  1854  and
        traveled to Dowagiac, MI.  Those children not adopted there
        were next sent to Chicago, IL, and then to Iowa City, IA.
        The venture was considered a success.
           Orphan trains were sent to 45 states, as well as Canada    Design of the library car interior by Dennis McNabb.
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