Whistlestop Weekend 2013

The Soule Live Steam Festival and RailFest in downtown Meridian the first Friday and Saturday in November highlights rail history and early manufacturing.

The Amtrak Exhibit Train is here to showcase the past, present and future of America's railroad. The exhibit train was last in town a few years ago for Amtrak's 40th anniversary.

Amtrak has made quiet a few changes since its last visit, displaying more interactive exhibits.

"Meridian may be a small town when you look at it from a national standpoint, but it's big town when it comes to Amtrak," said Todd Stennis, Amtrak director of governmental affairs. "Meridian was one of the biggest cities in the country as far as turnout goes for our 40th anniversary train."

Meridian is an Amtrak-served community which lies on the New Orleans-New York route and serves more than 306,000 people a year. Meridian itself provided nearly 12,000 of those passengers this past year.

With such a big turnout from the 40th anniversary, Amtrak has high hopes for this RailFest.

"It's free to the public," said Stennis. "We want everyone to come out; we plan on having a kickoff event at 8:45 a.m. In addition to our own equipment we are fortunate to have our partner, Norfolk Southern, bring their veterans locomotive up for the event as well."

The festival will have plenty of exhibits including steam engines, model trains, street organs, as well as various vendors.

Events continue till 4 p.m. Saturday on and around Front Street. Admission is free.