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The Great River Rail Commission urges everyone to visit the great destinations along the Mississippi River Route. Not only are the cities and towns beautiful, they host incredible events from small town carnivals to Shakespeare Festivals! We've put together a list of activities to enjoy along the River Route. Please download the document to start putting together your own itinerary.

Have fun!

With food trucks, bands, arts and crafts, dignitaries and local proclamations, the Borealis was welcomed to station cities from St. Paul to La Crosse on May 21, its first day of service. The Great River Rail Commission worked closely with the station cities along the Mississippi River Route to coordinate Borealis inaugural events.

Each city put its own twist on events to make them unique to their setting. 

St. Paul’s event featured a host of commission, state and federal representatives, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Amit Bose; a walk-through of the Borealis train before the event and giveaways. Approximately 300 train enthusiasts, passengers, and the general public were present, and 163 boarded the train in the Union Depot station.

A crowd celebrating at Union Depot

Red Wing placed an emphasis on family-friendly activities. The event included a number of arts and crafts stations, along with live music, food trucks, the city’s River Boat Greeters, and speeches from local dignitaries. Eighteen passengers boarded Borealis in Red Wing.

Borealis train arriving at a platform

Winona’s focus was on tourism. The event planners included Visit Winona and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Events drawing tourists happen nearly every weekend all summer long. Nine passengers boarded Borealis in Winona.

Opening ribbon being extended

La Crosse welcomed Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who boarded the Borealis after making a brief statement. The event featured speakers from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and local dignitaries. Twenty-eight boarded Borealis in La Crosse.

Tony Evers cutting a red ribbon

Station cities had about 3 weeks’ notice for the start date and relied on the Commission for assistance coordinating speakers and timing of their events. We appreciate the collaboration of our business partners in each location.

Public events commemorating inaugural run of Borealis train service

The public and media are invited to attend celebrations commemorating the inaugural run of the Borealis passenger rail service running from Saint Paul, MN to Chicago. Events take place Tuesday, May 21. Celebrations are planned at station stops in Saint Paul, Red Wing, and Winona in Minnesota, and La Crosse, WI.

Each celebration features events unique to their individual stations, from federal, state, and local speakers in Saint Paul to local bands and food trucks in Red Wing. Representatives from Amtrak and the corresponding state department of transportation are slated to speak at each event.

Saint Paul

Speakers include Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan; FRA Administrator Amit Bose; Senator Amy Klobuchar State Director Erika Nelson; Congresswoman Betty McCollum Outreach Director, Charlie Hammond; Minnesota Department of Transportation, Jean Wallace; Minnesota House Transportation Committee Chair Frank Hornstein; Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega; Ramsey County Commissioner Trista Martinson; Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO; and Amtrak CEO Steven Gardner. 

Public walk-through tours begin at 9am, with the event beginning at 10:45am. The train departs at 11:50 am.

Location: Union Depot, 214 4th Street East, Saint  Paul, MN 55101

Red Wing

Speakers include Matt Bailey, Passenger Rail Director, MnDOT, Ribbon Cutting with Mayor Mike Wilson when the train arrives at 12:35pm.

Food trucks are available starting at 12 pm; music and entertainment from 1pm-3pm; news conference at 1:45; train arrival and ribbon cutting at the first passenger car at 12:35pm

Location: 420 Levee Street, Red Wing, MN 55066


Speakers include Steve Young, City Councilor and Great River Rail Representative; Mayor Scott Sherman; Senator Jeremy Miller; Representative Gene Pelowski; and Jon P. Solberg, Assistant Director of Sustainability Planning and Program Management Division, MnDOT; and Former Mayor, Jerry Miller.

Speakers will begin at 12:45pm, prior to the eastbound departure from Winona at 1:40pm. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 1:40pm at the first passenger car as the Borealis pulls into the station. The train departs at 1:45pm.

Location: 65 East Mark Street, Winona, MN 55987

La Crosse

Speakers include Secretary Anne Sayers, Wisconsin Department of Tourism; WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson; Ray Lang, Amtrak Executive Vice President of State Supported Services; Mitch Reynolds, La Crosse Mayor.

The celebration begins with a food truck at 12pm; music and entertainment, 1pm-3pm; news conference at 1:45pm, and train arrival and ribbon cutting at the first passenger car at 2:16pm.

Location: 601 St. Andrew Street, La Crosse, WI 54601

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