Saving America’s Surplus Children … Then and Now

New York City, 1872. Thousands of orphans throng the streets of a city wracked by crime, disease and economic chaos.

Visionary minister Charles Loring Brace has a solution both moral and practical:  send these “surplus children” to new homes in the West — rescuing lives and souls while providing cheap labor for the nation’s expanding frontier.

New York City, 2018.  The true story behind “saving America’s Surplus Children” is told in the epic musical Orphan Traina tale of young frontier heroes and heroines with the Truest Grit you’ve ever seen on a musical stage — the saga of 6 Iowa-bound orphans embarking upon the greatest adventure of their young lives.

Will they find comfort and caring families?

Or will they vanish in the vast prairie never to be heard from again?

Created by L.E. McCullough (book), Michael Barry Greer (lyrics), Doug Katsaros (music) and directed by Patricia Birch, Orphan Train is an amazing — and timely — American story captured onstage. Come on board and see how a nation was built, one family at a time.


Orphan Train is an award-winning professional production that has had 6 full stage productions:

2018 University of Nebraska-Kearney (Kearney, NE). 6 performances for schools, public and a 2-day history colloquium on The Orphan Train Movement.

2013  Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal (New York, NY). 5 performances for the historic Grand Central Terminal Centennial Celebration.

2012  Stephen Sondheim Performing Arts Center (Fairfield, IA). A 3-week run and Special Proclamation from the Iowa Governor’s office.

2010 Saratoga Performing Arts Festival (Saratoga, NY). A featured presentation at this prestigious gathering.

2009, 2010 Russell Sage College Theatre (Troy, NY). Two 3- week runs with New York State Theatre Institute.

*** CLICK HERE to re-live the excitement of the Grand Central Terminal Centennial Celebration with Rosie O’Donnell’s Theater Kids and a special performance by Melissa Manchester with the Celia Cruz High School Choir. ***


If you’d like to be on our mailing list, please send us your name and email info to:

We will let you know the next time ORPHAN TRAIN is performed. And hope to see you there!

FOR THE VERY LATEST Orphan Train NEWS, drop by our Facebook Page:


“Travelin’ Far” sung by Katie Tomlinson-Diamond

* All photos by Richard Finkelstein.

One thought on “Saving America’s Surplus Children … Then and Now

  1. my grandmother was an orphan train rider & i know so little about her- is this show going to travel ? lots of those children came to the widwest , mine to Freeburg ,Mo

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