NEW YORK, May 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Every May, Amtrak celebrates National Train Day and recognizes the unique benefits and advantages of traveling by rail. National Train Day reminds us that taking the train is a unique way to travel – one that allows you to reflect, bond with others and take in beautiful scenery, all in a matter of hours. Trains connect us to where we need to go and bring those we love closer.
In the early years of trains, there were many individuals who helped make travel possible. The Bracero Program was enacted in the 1940s, bringing Mexican laborers to the United States as guest laborers. Many of these Braceros worked on the U.S. Railroad System, playing an essential role in making Amtrak what it is today. Amtrak pays homage to the contributions to the country's railroad system made by Braceros.
As we approach National Train Day, here are some interesting facts on the Bracero Program and the important role that Mexicans played in the growth of America's railroad system.
Braceros Helped to Restore the Stability of American Labor
After the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, over one million rural workers joined the United States military. Many also went to work in factories to help with wartime production. This left the labor force in agriculture and railroads quite vulnerable due to manpower shortages. In order to address this issue, the United States signed an agreement with Mexico in 1942 that brought Mexican workers to the states. The following year, this agreement was modified to include railroad workers.
Railroad Braceros Made a Huge Impact
During the year that Braceros were employed in the United States, over one hundred thousand worked on the railroads. Although they were only in the US less than five years, they made a significant contribution and were essential to the building and maintenance of the railroads.
What Exactly Did Braceros Do?
Braceros performed a wide range of roles that were essential to maintaining the American railroad and agricultural system. Railroad Braceros, in particular, were assigned various jobs. These men's assignments ranged from expanding rail yards, laying track at port facilities and replacing worn rails – all essential roles that were left under-resourced during World War II.
National Train Day is an annual observance when communities around the country join together to celebrate the ways trains matter to their towns. Join the movement! Visit http://www.nationaltrainday.com
Amtrak is America's Railroad®, the nation's intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. A record 31.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2012 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates intercity trains in partnership with 15 states and contracts with 13 commuter rail agencies to provide a variety of services. Enjoy the journey® at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us at twitter.com/Amtrak.