Orphan Train Rider Celebration Set For May 30-June 1


The 17th Annual Celebration of Orphan Train Riders will be held in Concordia, Kansas, May 30 through June 1. Pre-registration is currently taking place. Those interested may call the museum at 785-243-4471 Tuesday through Saturday, or check the Event tab on the website at Anyone wishing to register for the entire Celebration should do so by May 24. Other than three ticketed meals, all events are free and open to the public.

This year’s celebration is made possible by major underwriting provided by Cloud County Tourism and Robert F. Summers II of Norman, Oklahoma. Additional underwriting was provided by the Catholic Thrift Shop, Gary and Joan Fraser, Central National Bank, Citizens National Bank, Concordia Automart, Elk State Bank, and Cunningham Telephone and Cable, all of Concordia. The First National Bank of Hope at Miltonvale and Rolling Hills Electric, Beloit, also provided underwriting. The Board of Directors of the National Orphan Train Complex express gratitude to these donors.


  • Sneak Peek, May 30, 7 to 9 pm, at the museum. $15
  • Lunch, 12 to 1:15 pm, June 1, at Nazareth Motherhouse. $15
  • President’s Award Banquet, 6:30 pm, June 1. $25

Friday, May 31, special events, Morgan-Dowell Research Center at the Complex

  • 8:30 am Welcome
  • 9 am Ribbon cutting for The Train Station
  • 10:15 am Curator Shaley George presentation, donors in New York City who helped influence the Orphan Train Movement from 1864 to 1929.
  • 1:15 pm Lori Halfhide, Head Researcher for NOTC, local placement committees formed and utilized by the Children’s Aid Society during the placing out process.
  • 2:30 pm Susanna Pitzer, Concordia native, public reading of new children’s book, Mabel and Elky Ride the Orphan Train followed by book sales and signings.
  • 4 pm, Statue unveiling Central National Bank pocket park on the corner of 8th and Lincoln
  • 6 pm, Two statues unveiled, Cloud County Tourism office followed by a party and statue tours.

Saturday, June 1, events held at the Motherhouse Auditorium, 12th and Washington.

  • 9:15 am Keynote speaker Kris Erickson, San Diego, Calif., grandson of Mabel Gummersell, will share details of her ride.
  • 10:45 am, Forum-style discussion featuring other descendants of Orphan Train Riders.
  • 1:30 pm, Shaley George will toast “Happy 150th Birthday” to the New York Foundling Hospital.
Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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