84-year-old Nat Read has been fascinated with locomotives since he was four years old growing up in 1943 Dallas. He took his first Amtrak ride alongside his mother and that experience infected Read with the travel bug.
Read, now living in Pasadena, California, has been to over 100 countries, the North and South Poles, and more recently completed his lifelong goal of riding the entire Amtrak system. The journey took him 80 years and 21,000 miles. Read explains his fascination with trains began at age four, especially when steam engines were still the norm.
On July 21, 2023, Read completed this lifelong journey on the Downeaster train from Boston North Station to Brunswick, Maine. The 2-hour trip concluded with an announcement from the conductor sharing the news of Nat Read’s accolade with fellow passengers, which was then met by a roaring applause.
Read even adopted a bit of a fan base on the ride. Fellow passengers posed for pictures and spoke with the 84-year-young man.
But for Read, that wasn’t the end. He noted he’ll continue to take Amtrak rides as new routes are added.
“I never tire of it,” he said. “There’s a unique quality to trains… you can’t measure their value in dollars, it’s an experience,” said Read.
Read’s sense of adventure is not limited to trains. He’s worn many hats in his career including boy scout, police officer in the gang suppression unit, serving for the Navy during Vietnam, cartoonist, cab driver, and even making a living as a stand-up comedian.
Read states he hung up the mic only after he proved to himself, he could make a living as a comedian. With such an interesting life, it’s only natural Nat Read also published a few books on it, making him an author on top of it all.
Life tips from Nat Read
One of Read’s favorite parts of riding is the scenery. He notes to choose your route wisely, according to the time of year, and you’ll get the best views. Read recommends the San Francisco to Denver route or Winnipeg to Hudson Bay for the most scenic train rides.
Read implores others to pursue their passions, no matter where or how long it takes to get there. “I’ve set goals again and again in life,” he said. “That’s how you get to where you’re going.”