Orphan Train Experience

The Real Story

What was the Orphan Train?

The orphan train was a movement that took orphaned and homeless children on the United States to different cities so they can be adopted. The Orphan Train went on from 1854 to 1929. During the time, the children had no idea what was going on, but the situation , for the most part, was the best thing that could have happened to them. The three charitable organizations that made this happen were Children's Village (Founded in 1851), Children's Aid Society (Founded in 1853), and the New York Founding Hospital.

Why Was There an Orphan Train?

There was an Orphan Train because some children needed it. These children were homeless,living in shelters, or living with people that could not care less about them. It was necessary for many children.
Orphan Train Rider Museum Opelousas Interviews

The Orphan Train Experience

The children on the trains were from New York, and the trains went out "West" to Rural destinations in Midwest regions of the United States. These children didn't know what was happening to them. They just had to go with it until they were settled in with a new family.


On the trains, the children spread on many cars. Initially, these cars weren't much, but they got better over time. When settled and off the train, the caretakers of the children got the children got them ready for "inspection". They were to be taken to a place where they were put up for adoption. The children were inspected like animals by complete strangers, hoping that one would adopt them.

Orphan Train Interview w/ Idona Swedenburg