Happening Now

A Train Producer Sets the Stage for a Masterpiece

September 23, 2013

Written By Sean Jeans Gail

Photo: Bryan Derballa, Wired

Wired has been doing some outstanding coverage of artist Doug Aitken’s Station to Station series, a charter train that uses rail travel to connect a series of art exhibits, musical performances, food displays, literary events, and film showings.

NARP’s already reported on the trip, but when we saw Wired had profiled longtime NARP member and all-around-good-guy Adam Auxier, who is working as Station to Station’s “train producer”, we knew we had to pass it along:

Adam Auxier is Station to Station’s train producer–an energetic, affable guy who just happens to know pretty much everything there is to know about trains and their history. He put together the assortment of gorgeous old train cars that make up the vehicle for Doug Aitken’s coast-to-coast art-and-music tour (and helped Aitken to select the stations where it’s stopping), and he’s been overseeing the train and telling fascinating tales about its provenance and its route.

The cars on the Station to Station train were built between 1916 and 1953; Auxier arranged for them to be chartered from private owners who maintain them as a labor of love and rent them out to offset the cost of keeping them railworthy. (He has contact with all of them through his tour company, Altiplano Rail.) “A car like this seems wonderful,” Auxier says, pointing up at the skylights of the double-decker “Superdome” that serves as the train’s dining car and kitchen, “but it’s 65 years old. Imagine taking a 65-year-old car at 90 miles an hour across Missouri!”

You can check out the whole piece here (and you should).

There are three more stops on the tour, so—if you live in California—this is your last chance to take part in this amazing and unique experience.

Unfortunately, without the proper investment that statement could be true about large portions of America's train network, a point Auxier emphasizes.

“We spend less on our rail system than Estonia spends. It’s an incredibly small amount of money. The route we’re taking from Kansas City to Albuquerque is incredible, but it could be gone in two years, or even sooner," said Auxier. "It needs about $150 million in investment. The city of Milwaukee just spent a billion dollars on one freeway interchange; that’s Amtrak’s whole budget for the year. It’s a privilege that we actually have this service–that all these small towns we’re passing have rail service that allows them to get to large cities.