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Arizona Trip:




            On December 8th, 1995, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) mothballed its last 19 PCC streetcars. Two were kept as historic cars while the other 17 were dispersed to trolley museums and historic streetcar operations across Canada and the United States.


By May of 2003, I had visited all but four of the cars. In the summer of 2005, I began contemplating going down to Arizona where two cars I still had to visit were located. I finally decided to go in mid January of 2006. After a couple minor changes to my original plan and getting the time off work, my plan involved riding Amtrak’s Maple Leaf to Utica, New York to both maximize the time spent on the train, and photographing various pieces of historical railroad equipment near the station. After, I would ride the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, and transfer to the Texas Eagle which I would ride down to Tucson, Arizona. I would then take a day trip to Phoenix, and return to Tucson. I would spend the weekend in Tucson and then ride the Texas Eagle back to Chicago, to connect with the Eastbound Lake Shore Limited to Buffalo.


            This trip ended up unfolding in quite the interesting manner involving a 12 hour late train and other things.


January 16, 2006:


            I got down to Toronto’s Union Station around 7:45 am, 45 minutes before the Maple Leaf was scheduled to depart. While waiting, I took a picture of an advertisement for VIA’s Enterprise train which was surprisingly still around because that train had been discontinued four months earlier! Around 8:20, we were allowed to board.


I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25007, an unrefurbished coach with a brown and beige interior, the old style display boards, and no AC outlets. I noted that that coach was the same car I rode from Chicago to Buffalo on the Lake Shore Limited in February of 2005. The train departed on time. As the train passed VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre, I took video of the equipment that was in the yard including the replacement train to the Enterprise and five ex CP coaches that are used on the Canadian.


Amtrak P32AC-DM #709 was leading the train. One thing I noticed that when I got on, the train had six cars; people in Business Class had a whole coach instead of seats taking up 1/3 of the café car.


The train made its regular stops in Oakville, Aldershot, St. Catherines, and Niagara Falls, Ontario. I had been given a card to fill out before we got to the boarder since I was crossing into the United States. At Niagara Falls, New York, the train actually ran past the station, and then backed into a siding next to the station building. That was the same track I boarded Amtrak train 286 back in July. The customs inspection was relatively painless, though one other passenger had a couple potted plants confiscated by the agents since they weren’t allowed to take them into the U.S.


After the inspection was done, we were allowed onto the platform for a smoke break. I used the time to take some photos of the train. I also observed Amtrak P42 #168 parked on the adjacent track.




            We left Niagara Falls, New York on time and shortly after, the café car reopened for lunch. I grabbed a hot dog and an apple muffin. We stopped at Buffalo-Exchange Street station. When we left, I saw a CP freight waiting by the old Buffalo Central Terminal. We were stopped outside of CSX’s Frontier Yard for a freight train. We weren’t stopped too long and soon, we stopped at Buffalo-Depew station. After we left, we were still running pretty close to on time, and we stopped outside of Rochester for another CSX freight to pass us. After we left, I got video of Amtrak train 63 passing us. After that, I saw two CSX freights with a caboose on the end of the train which is certainly rare! I also saw two MBTA commuter coaches in a freight yard. We made a stop in Syracuse. After we left, train 283 passed us. We stopped in Rome, before arriving in Utica 30 minutes late.



            Upon disembarking from the train, I walked to the end of the platform to photograph the train and get video of it pulling out. I also took a photo of equipment from the Adirondack tourist train. After, I went into the station to see a store that sells model trains, but it was closed. I went outside and took some photos of various historic pieces of railroad rolling stock. I asked the ticket agent what track train 49 was coming on. At first, he thought I was going on train 285 which was to arrive around 6:00, but when I told him I was looking for train 49, he said the train hadn’t left New York yet!


            Train 285 arrived a few minutes late. I took a picture of it and shot video of the train pulling out. After, I kept calling Julie, Amtrak’s automated agent to find out the status of train 49. It was running over an hour late, and was due in after 10:00 pm. I was originally planning on having dinner on the Lake Shore, but its lateness made me look for another option since I was hungry now! I called home, then after, I asked the ticket agent where I could eat. He pointed to a tavern across the street which I went to. I told the waiter I was in a hurry. They served me dinner in a timely manner which I much appreciated. After I paid my bill, I headed back to the station and kept checking the train status of 49, I ventured out onto the platform a few times. At one point, I saw a meteoroid. I saw the lights of a train and wondered if that was 49. However, it was just a westbound CSX freight. Finally, around two and a half hours late, Amtrak train #49 arrived into Utica. As it pulled in, I noticed that there was a Horizon fleet café car on the train, which is rare.


            I originally boarded Amfleet 2 coach #25109, another unrefurbished coach. I knew that my friend Bill was on the train., I met him on the Lake Shore Limited back in February when I was returning home from Chicago on the trip where I rode the Three Rivers which was about to be discontinued. Shortly after I found a seat, Bill found me. We then switched to the last coach which was refurbished. I immediately noticed the coach number was 25000, the coach I rode on the Maple Leaf to New York City on the same trip I had met Bill.


            I got a carton of milk from the café car. Upon entering the café car, I noticed that while at one end had typical tables, the other had business class seats! This was also the first time I ever rode in a Horizon fleet coach, period. I went back to the coach, where Bill told me that his friend Geno may be at Buffalo since he works late. I had visited Geno’s website quite a bit, so I figured it would be neat to meet him.


January 17, 2006:


            I snoozed between Syracuse and Rochester. As we approached Buffalo, we had a smoking break. Bill and I stepped off the train. We looked for Geno, but he wasn’t there. Bill and I believed that because the train was so late, we missed him. After we left Buffalo, I decided to sleep. I brought out the blanket I bought on the Three Rivers back in February of 2005 and tried to sleep. It was harder to get to sleep than I remembered. I did get some sleep as we passed Erie. I woke when we were in Cleveland, but fell asleep, waking up as we approached Toledo. We had a long stop in Toledo, but I didn’t try to get off the train. Bill was still asleep. After a small nap, I decided to get up.


            I decided to go to the diner for breakfast in the dining car, which was a Temoinsa refurbished diner which is very nice inside. I had Railroad French Toast which was good. I thought, “They’re still calling it French toast, no wonder why Bush wouldn’t mind if Amtrak went under.” Back in 2002, when France wouldn’t support the war in Iraq, The U.S. retaliated by eliminating the word French from various items. One such example was that various restaurants called French Fries “Freedom Fries”.


            During breakfast, the air line connecting the two Viewliner sleepers parted, causing every coach behind the first Viewliner to loose power and the train to go into emergency! The problem was soon fixed, but railroad regulations state that the crew has to inspect the train. Eventually, we were underway again. After I paid for my meal, I took an interior shot of the diner and headed to the Café car and took some interior photos of it as well.


            I headed back to my coach. Bill finally woke up. The train stopped at Bryan, Ohio. We were still running late. We make a couple more stops before Elkhart, Indiana. I was hoping to get video of the New York Central RR museum which was across the mainline from the station, but just as we were pulling in and I was filming the museum, an eastbound Norfolk Southern coal train passed on the adjacent track ruining my shot!


            As we progressed westward, I began showing Bill various train videos I had shot since my trip on the Three Rivers.  Soon, we saw some coal hoppers that were derailed by the side of the tracks! I didn’t have enough time to get a video of that. We stopped in South Bend, Indiana.


            Soon, we crossed into Illinois. I set the clock on my digital camera since we were now in the Central time zone. We were soon approaching Chicago, but we were going slowly. We were passed by a freight train that was reversing at a higher speed than we were going forwards! Bill and I weren’t sure if the train was going to front into Union station, or be wyed and back in. We ended up fronting in which saved some time, but we still arrived three hours late! Bill and I would still make our connecting train though.




A Horizon Fleet Café car, a rarity on the Lake Shore Limited.



However, I was hoping to meet up with a couple friends in Chicago. Because of the lateness of the train, meeting up with my friend Greg was out of the question. I could still have met up with my friend Karl. But he never showed up. I had him paged with no luck. I grabbed some lunch from a McDonald’s in the station. I called Greg, apologizing that we couldn’t meet up, and that we might be able to in a little more than a week. After I got home, I would later find out that Karl had been called to work. Bill, who had been out around Chicago, soon came back. I called home from a payphone, before we boarded the Texas Eagle.


I boarded Superliner 1 coach #34055, a coach that was in a previous derailment, but had been repaired and refurbished by the shops at Beach Grove, Indiana. The other two coaches, sightseer lounge, and crew sleeper were also refurbished. The coaches were all Superliner 1’s with the exception of the crew dorm. We left on time, where I got video of Amtrak’s 14th Street Yard. I observed a Pacific Parlor coach which is rare since in runs on the Coach Starlight between Los Angeles and Seattle. We also paralleled the CTA’s Orange line for a distance. One other thing I observed was that the Texas Eagle had two P42’s leading instead of the typical single P42.


            We stopped in Joliet. After we left, I observed a Metra commuter train in the station. I headed to the lounge car and found Bill there. Soon, it was time for dinner, and I headed into the diner and had country fried steak which was a little spicy, but okay. After dinner, they showed the movie “Red eye” in the lounge car.


            After the movie, we were approaching St. Louis. Bill and I looked for the St. Louis arch. We caught sight of it.  Soon, we were nearly below it. We then arrived at the station where I saw another Amtrak train parked that had a P42, an Amfleet 1 café car, and two Horizon fleet coaches.



At St. Louis, passengers were allowed onto the platform for a smoke break. I used the time to take some photos of the train before I got back on. Shortly after leaving St. Louis, they showed the movie “Dukes of Hazzard” in the lounge car. I grabbed some snacks from the lounge car, and settled down to watch the movie. After the movie, I grabbed a carton of milk, and then I headed to back to my coach for some sleep.


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