The kickoff of the new Trails & Rails program between Chicago and La Plata on the Southwest Chief is less than 2 weeks away from now and we honestly can’t be more excited. One of the things our guides will be carrying with them is a National Park Service Passport rubber stamp that you can use for your passport book. In fact, the stamp just arrived in the mail yesterday from our sponsors at Texas A&M University!!! No, we’re not talking about a “real” passport that you would use to travel outside of the country — but instead a National Park Service passport where visitors record their time spent touring a national park unit by placing a cancellation stamp with a date on it in a specially designed book.
For more information about the National Park Service passport program, you can check out this website:
This whole National Park Service passport program began in 1986. Personally, I began collecting cancellations in 1991 (when I was 12 years old!!!) when my family and I toured Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa. I have been an “addict” ever since — trying to collect as many cancellations when I travel somewhere.
A few years ago, I found out that I’m not alone!! There are actually websites and fan clubs devoted to the collection of passport stamps!!! Here is a link to that:
The cancellation for the APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program from Chicago to La Plata says “Texas A&M University” on top because their office at the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences is the administrative sponsor of our group. The bottom reads “Trails & Rails – Southwest Chief”.
In order to obtain the stamp for your passport you must ride the Southwest Chief between Chicago and La Plata on Thursdays or Saturdays between May 18th and September 22nd… or between La Plata and Chicago on Fridays and Sundays between the same dates. We are discussing placing the cancellation stamp at the La Plata depot during the “off season” to encourageNPS passport cancellation collectors to visit Silver Rails Country!
So, make your plans to ride the train… and get stampin’ with us this summer!
This post was written by Robert Tabern. He is the Chicago Coordinator for the SWC Trails and Rails Program.