LITTLE FALLS - It seems impossible now, but for a long time in our nation's history it was common to put orphaned children on trains out east and ship them here to the Midwest. During the height of immigration to the U.S., the port cities became overcrowded. Jobs were scarce and money was tight. Many poor immigrant families had no choice but to abandon their kids in the streets.

This Saturday the 54th annual "Orphan Train Conference" is being held at the St. Francis Center in Little Falls.

President of the Orphan Train Riders Renee Wendinger says they hold the conference to honor these special people...

Wendinger says more than 250,000 children were placed on the trains for 75 years from 1854 to 1929 through the "Children's Aid Society".

She says many of those kids were adopted into loving families. But, others like her mom weren't so lucky. Wendinger's mother first went to a home in Minneapolis, but that didn't last long.

Wendinger's mom is still alive today, and will be celebrating her 100th birthday in April.

Saturday's conference is open to anyone who wants to learn more about the Orphan Trains. It starts at 9:00 a.m.