Amtrak Helps Drive a Small-Town Economy.

About ten years ago, I was heading West en route to Los Angeles aboard the Southwest Chief. We were stopped at a staton when I awoke on my first morning aboard and I raised up on an elbow and peered out the window of my roomette. We had just started moving and a few seconds later a weathered sign slid past my window.

That was the moment when I suddenly realized there must be lots of small towns like Dodge City all over the country . . . towns worth visiting, but with a limited number of attractions so you can see pretty much everything in one or two days.

As luck would have it, I did pass through Dodge City on the train about a year later. This time, however, I arranged a 24-hour stop off—enough time, I thought, to see the town.

I booked a room at a very pleasant B-and-B and was surprised when in the email acknowledgment of my reservation rerquest, the owner said he would meet the Chief when I arrived in Dodge City and his wife would have a nice breakfast ready for us when we got back to the house.

“It’s not a problem,” he said. “I make five or six trips every month to pick up guests arriving on Amtrak.”

It wasn’t until later in the day that Curt’s casual comment sunk in. He said he made five or six trips to the Amtrak station every month to pick up people who have booked rooms at his B&B.

I did some quick math and assuming half those people spend two nights at Curt’s B&B, that’s a gross income of $17,280 annually. 

And let’s not forget that these visitors will be dining at local restaurants, renting cars, paying admission fees at the local museum and spending money on souvenirs.

I can’t help but wonder if small business people in small towns across the country served by Amtrak fully appreciate the contribution Amtrak makes to their local economy. I know Curt in Dodge City does!