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National Park Quiz 21: Railroads

Denali National Park visitors waiting to board the Grayline of Alaska "McKinley Explorer" train. Photo by 41Dodge via Flickr.

1. Steamtown National Historic Site is located in downtown
a. Bellows Falls, Vermont
b. Scranton, Pennsylvania
c. Wheeling, West Virginia
d. Baltimore, Maryland

2. You are standing not far from the CSX tracks that run parallel to the river. Soaring above you is a bridge so high you can safely parachute from it. You are in a national park in
a. California
b. Colorado
c. Arizona
d. West Virginia

3. The stretch of railroad located along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park has ______ that were constructed during 1910-1915.
a. three eight-track switching yards
b. four masonry-faced tunnels
c. seven wildlife underpasses
d. numerous snow sheds

4. The Green Mountain Cog Railroad, which operated less than ten years, was constructed to transport passengers to the top of
a. Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
b. Brokeoff Mountain in Lassen Volcanic National Park
c. Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
d. Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

5. A Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park visitor can ride her bike on the towpath trail in one direction, then put her bike aboard a train and ride the train back to where she started. Another park where this option is available to bikers is
a. Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
b. Steamtown National Historic Site
c. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
d. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

6. Among the things visitors can see at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site are inclined planes, an historic tavern, and America’s first
a. railroad tunnel
b. railroad depot
c. passenger rail car
d. steam locomotive

7. If you were a passenger aboard the Sightseer Lounge of Amtrak’s “Empire Builder,” you’d be able to enjoy views of
a. Everglades National Park
b. Glacier National Park
c. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
d. Grand Canyon National Park

8. At Golden Spike National Historic Site, the 20-foot limestone arch honoring 19th century railroad workers bears the official name
a. Chinaman’s Arch
b. Chinese Arch
c. Limerick Arch
d. Irish Arch

9. The first railroad to take a serious interest in transporting tourists to western national parks was the______, which eventually brought visitors to Yellowstone National Park.
a. Great Northern Railroad
b. Union Pacific Railroad
c. Burlington Northern Railroad
d. Northern Pacific Railroad

10. The Grand Canyon Railway, which provides passenger rail service between Williams, Arizona and the South Rim, is owned by
a. Xanterra Parks & Resorts
b. El Tovar Hotel
c. the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
d. the National Park Service

Extra credit question:

11. The photo accompanying this quiz depicts Denali National Park visitors waiting to board the double-decker domed cars of the Grayline of Alaska "McKinley Explorer" train, which operates on the Alaska Railroad. Each of the following is a true statement about the  "McKinley Explorer" domed cars EXCEPT: (Choose the statement that “does not belong.”)
a. They are the largest domed railroad cars ever manufactured.
b. They are the largest rail passenger cars in the world.
c. They are fitted with backward- and forward-facing reversible seats.
d. They have onboard dining facilities and bar services.

Super bonus question:

12. The Mammoth Cave Railroad started carrying passengers to Mammoth Cave in 1886. This railroad ceased operating in 1931, primarily because of
a. federal government opposition to the operation of a railroad within a national park
b. a severe decline in passenger traffic brought on by the Great Depression
c. competition from two other railroads serving Mammoth Cave
d. aging, unsafe equipment that could not be replaced at affordable prices


(1) b -- Steamtown National Historic Site is located in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania.

(2) d -- The 876-foot high New River Gorge Bridge, highest vehicular bridge in the United States, is located near Fayetteville, West Virginia.

(3) d -- Built in avalanche prone sections of the track, the snow sheds are roofed, lean-to shaped wooden structures open on the downhill side. They are designed to allow snow avalanches to cascade over the railroad tracks without blocking them.

(4) c -- The cog railway at Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain (then called Green Mountain) operated only from 1883 to 1891. The railroad shut down when a new toll road to the mountaintop took away too much of its business.

(5) c -- The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s “Bike Aboard!” service has proven very popular with bikers at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

(6) a -- Completed in 1834, the park’s 901-foot long Staple Bend Tunnel was the first railroad tunnel built in this country.

(7) b -- The Empire Builder not only offers views of Glacier National Park, but also stops at Belton-West Glacier, the western entrance to the park.

(8) b -- The arch was initially called Chinaman’s Arch (a name that many locals still use), but in 2006 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names renamed the structure Chinese Arch . The Utah Organization of Chinese Americans had filed a name change application that received strong support.

(9) d -- The Northern Pacific Railroad strongly supported the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 and began taking tourists to the north entrance of the park (at Gardiner, Montana) in 1883.

(10) a -- Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the major lodging and services concessionaire at Grand Canyon National Park, purchased the Grand Canyon Railway in 2006.

(11) c -- All of the seats in the domed cars are forward-facing.

(12) a -- Mammoth Cave National Park did not yet exist in 1931, but things were falling into place for its creation. The federal government, being opposed to having a railroad operating in the yet-to-be-created park, forced the Mammoth Cave National Park Association to acquire the Mammoth Cave Railroad and shut it down. Ten years later (in 1941), the park was finally established.

Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passable fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.


Only 10 out of 12 this week, after a perfect score last week... Oh well.

I should point that one can ride your bicycle on the C&O Canal NHP towpath from Georgetown to Sandy Hook, MD in Harpers Ferry NHP, and take your bike across the bridge to the Amtrak station.... and then take the train back to Union Station Washington, DC. It wouldn't exactly be a daytrip, though.....

Nice catch, Sabattis. I revised the quiz item.

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