St. Paul's Union Depot is throwing itself a 90th birthday party with a weekend of trains and free activities.
"We have the belle of our ball here, we have the Amtrak exhibit train, and it is set up for a train that people can come in and see Amtrak history, and experience what its like inside a train," says Deborah Carter McCoy, spokesperson for the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, which runs the depot.
It's the first time Amtrak has brought the train to Minnesota.
"We also have some equipment from the Minnesota Transportation Museum, a Burlinginton Northern locomotive, she said. "We have a steam locomotive, from the 261, includes baggage cars, a business class car and the famous Cedar Rapids car."
The expo is free and open to the public. Visitors will have access to a variety of train equipment, including locomotives and a post office car, parked on the station's platform. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The depot itself will host live music, model railroading displays, train memorabilia and talks about Minnesota railroad history. A new trail to a trackside picnic area will open this weekend, and the Lowertown Bike shop will open its new shop in the depot's head house on Sunday.
And although I-94 is closed in St. Paul, Metro Transit is offering free light rail and bus rides to the Depot with an online voucher, and there will be a free shuttle bus to and ticket discounts for the Minnesota Transportation Museum in St. Paul.
The Depot was opened in 1926 and passenger service returned to the depot in 2014 after a $243 million restoration. The station serves as a hub for light rail, passenger train, Metro Transit and intercity bus service — although the traffic often moves through the cavernous waiting room in a trickle.
The depot is adding amenities like the bike shop and is taking bids for a full-service restaurant for the building's lobby.