Monthly Archives: September 2014

Northern to Host Grand Opening Celebration of Interactive Multimedia Artwork Platform at Union Depot with Workshops and Reception

September 29, 2014

On Wednesday, October 1 Northern will host an Open House at Saint Paul’s Union Depot to Celebrate the Grand Opening of its Interactive Multimedia Artwork Platform, an interactive installation in the Waiting Room that includes two commissioned public art projects:
• Amateur Intelligence Radio by Daily tous les jours : This is a radio program broadcasting from the Union Depot, hosted by the building and powered by the visitors’ stories.
• 8 ½ x 11 by Jim Campbell: This work is a light sculpture that features an array of LED bulbs suspended from the ceiling of the Waiting Room, which displays dynamic figures swimming across the sculpture.

Amateur Intelligence Radio (AIR) is the voice of the building, connecting people to Union Depot. As people come and go, AIR narrates activities within its walls and stages little interventions to celebrate the renewed life at the historic landmark. The day’s events will begin with a two-part, drop-in Broadcast Your Voice: A Very Short Story Writing Workshop with AIR from 1-4 p.m. During the first part, guests will learn how to write a story that’s less than one minute in length. Participants may bring in a story or poem they’ve written or write a new story during the session. The sessions will start on the hour at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and will be taught by Lara Avery, author of two novels, Anything But Ordinary and A Million Miles Away, and editor and contributor at Revolver.

During the second part of the workshop, guests will learn how to upload their stories for broadcast on AIR’s online platform – stories can be programmed to be played at a certain time of day or year. Participants may use their smart phone, tablet, laptop or work from memory. Stories can be submitted to From 4-7 p.m. there will be a tour of the many public art works throughout Union Depot, followed by a reception at Christos. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information visit the Northern website.

Union Depot Hosting Train-themed Events September 17 and 20

September 16, 2014

Union Depot in St. Paul will celebrate railway history with special activities on September 17 and 20.

Wednesday, September 17
7:00 – 9:30 pm – “Riders on the Orphan Train” audio-visual production

Union Depot will host the September 17 return of the nationally touring “Riders on the Orphan Train” audio-visual production. Although few Minnesotans know the history of the orphan trains, the exodus of more than 250,000 children from the East coast has been called the ‘largest child migration in history’. Between 1854 and 1929, thousands of children were put on trains, primarily in New York City, and sent all over the United States to be placed with new families. One of those stops was Union Depot in St. Paul. Austin, Texas-based novelist and scholar Alison Moore and musician Phil Lancaster have teamed up to create an unique audio visual experience, comprising historical fiction, actual interviews, archival images and musical ballads that bring the Orphan Train movement to life.

Ticketing for Riders on the Orphan Train is available at

Saturday, September 20
11:30 am – 12:30 pm – Special Union Depot History tour, led by John Diers
12:00 – 4:00 pm – Minnesota Transportation Museum will bring three train cars for guests to view up close on the track (includes the popular and bright Hustle Muscle)
1:00 – 2:30 pm – 1st screening of “Back on Track: The Rebirth of St. Paul’s Union Depot,” a documentary by Greg Ellis with Q&A with filmmaker
2:30 – 3:30 pm – Bill Schrankler to discuss his photographs and book, “Shadows of Time…Minnesota’s Surviving Railroad Depots”

The public is invited to attend the first public screening of “Back on Track: The Rebirth of St. Paul’s Union Depot,” a documentary by Greg Ellis about the renovation of the historic structure, followed by a Q & A session with the filmmaker. Ellis’ film, a detailed chronicle of the dramatic renovation of the historic gem, will be shown in the Red Cap Room on second floor at Union Depot. Guests will be treated to a review of the meticulous work by dedicated teams of architects, engineers, construction workers, historians and preservationists that culminated in the transformation of the building from an empty, decaying state back to its magnificent original glory complete with modern amenities. Ellis is an independent corporate live event and video producer/director who has contributed to more than 100 major corporate productions.

Noted historian and author John Diers will lead a special tour of Union Depot. Diers, author of “St. Paul Union Depot,” will lead guests on a tour of the historic space. His book, also published in 2013, is a rich historical account of Union Depot, from its golden days in the 1920s when hundreds of trains came and went each day and more than twenty million pieces of mail were processed each year, to the early 1970s when passenger rail travel ceased for more than 40 years.

Author Bill Schrankler will speak about his recent book, “Shadows of Time…Minnesota’s Surviving Railroad Depots.” Schrankler, son of an Orphan Train Rider, has had a lifelong love affair with trains and train depots. His book, co-authored with Frederick L. Johnson and published in 2013, covers 168 of Minnesota’s existing railroad depots with beautiful photography, maps and history. He will read from his book and discuss Minnesota’s rich railroad history. Eleven images from his book have been enlarged and are displayed for public viewing at Union Depot in the Head House below the East Clock from September 8 through October 31.

Minnesota Transportation Museum will bring three of its most popular historic trains for guests to view up close on the tracks. The museum will also have staff available to discuss the train cars. The train cars, on display from noon to 4 p.m., include:
• Great Northern 400 (aka the Hustle Muscle), the first Electro Motive Division of General Motors model SD-45 locomotive.
• Great Northern Coach 1213, a 56-passenger coach.
• Soo 31, a 1968 caboose.
The documentary screening and the special Union Depot history tour are free events and open to the public, but a ticket is required. Ticketing for these special events is available at