Facebook Page
Washington/Cleveland Trip

Washington/Cleveland Trip




            This trip has multiple origins. First a few years ago, Trolleyville USA which was located outside of Cleveland was forced to move from their previous home located in a trailer park when the owner of the park died and the new owners didn’t want the streetcar museum in the park. In early 2004, my friend Greg in Chicago suggested that I go to their last trolleyfest in 2004 (which didn’t end up happening.) Before I found out it wasn’t happening, I begun looking into taking the train to Cleveland and was interested. Like when I was planning my Arizona trip, Greg suggested I fly to Cleveland.


            Also, in 2003, I found out that a carbarn fire had destroyed nine streetcars from the National Capital Trolley Museum’s collection. I had visited Trolleyville in 1996 and the National Capital Trolley Museum (NCTM) in 1999 as both museums have an ex Toronto PCC that were among the 19 mothballed in 1995. However, the Toronto PCC at NCTM survived the 2003 fire without a scratch.


            I decided that when Trolleyville was open again, I would visit both NCTM and Trolleyville. In 2006, Trolleyville’s fleet was moved to downtown Cleveland. Their Interurban cars were stored by RTA in Cleveland while the rest of the collection was stored in a warehouse on the waterfront and on weekends, people could see the streetcars that were in the warehouse. I finally decided to go in summer of 2007. My plan was to ride the Maple Leaf down to New York and change to a regional train to Washington DC. Next, I would ride Amtrak’s Capitol Limited to Cleveland. After I spent two days in Cleveland, I would ride the Lakeshore Limited to Buffalo and change to the Maple Leaf. However, a taxi company in Cleveland would force me to change my plans.


July 4, 2007:


I got to Toronto Union station pretty early; one hour before train 97 would depart. I saw that VIA train 71 would depart for Windsor at 7:50 so I decided to go film it departing. On the way to my favorite vantage point west of Union station, I peeked in through a door and photographed the engines on trains 71 and 97.



I then went out to my favorite vantage point. While I was waiting, I photographed a locomotive outside the John Street Roundhouse as well as a couple GO trains. I then filmed the Northlander pulling in and train 71 departing. Once 71 departed, I headed back to the departures area.


Soon, train 97 boarded. I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25030, a refurbished coach with a blue and white interior, digital display boards, and AC outlets. While waiting to depart, I saw trains 82, 651, and 93 arrive.


Amtrak P42 #9 was leading. The train departed on time. During the Canadian portion of this train ride, I was in an aisle seat. As we passed VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre, I filmed it. The train made its usual stops in Oakville, Aldershot, Grimsby, and St. Catherines. I was given a card to fill out prior to crossing the boarder.


After we departed St. Catherines, we were stopped because the lift bridge over the Welland Canal was open to let a ship through. We were soon underway again and stopped in Niagara Falls. I was then able to get a window seat. The train crossed into the U.S. I was a little nervous about the customs inspection because I was worried I would be interviewed by the same customs agent who interviewed me the last time I rode the Maple Leaf across the boarder who I found to be quite anal. The train ran past the Niagara Falls New York station and then backed in. The customs agents got on. At first, I saw a woman. I wasn’t sure if she was the same agent who interviewed me last year, but before she could get to me I was interviewed by a man who I found to be all right. While I got through with no problem, some other passengers had to be taken to a room in the station for further screening. Most of them were allowed to continue, but I believe that at least one person was denied entry into the United States. I’m just thankful that I got through not only this time, but the three previous times I rode the Maple Leaf across the boarder.


After awhile, I asked if we could be let off the train for a breather, but the train crew said the train still hadn’t cleared customs yet. The inspection was eventually complete and the train crew let passengers out for a smoking break. I stepped out and took two photos, but quickly reboarded because it was raining pretty heavily.




We soon left Niagara Falls New York. We were running 30 minutes late. The café car reopened and I bought lunch. The train stopped at Buffalo Exchange Street station and Buffalo Depew station. The stops were quick and we were soon underway.


Amtrak train 63 passed us, but I was unable to film it. The train stopped in Rochester. Between Rochester and Syracuse, Amtrak train 283 passed. I was able to only film the rear half, but it appeared to have a private coach on the end. As we approached Syracuse, I filmed various pieces of old rolling stock. The train then stopped at the stations at Syracuse and Rome. I called Julie wondering were Amtrak #285 would be and it passed between Rome and Utica, but I was unable to film it. When train 64 stopped in Utica, I filmed the equipment owned by the Adirondack Scenic railway.


I began to wonder with growing worry that I would miss my connection in New York with Amtrak train #169. Train 64 then stopped at Amsterdam. Between Amsterdam and Schenectady, the westbound Lake Shore Limited raced past us. I ran to the rear only to see the last coach disappear around a bend. The train then stopped at Schenectady. While we were there, I saw a CP freight pass by with two AC4400s leading.


We soon left, and as we approached Albany I was told if we left Albany by 8:30, I would make my connecting train. I called Julie to find out the status. So far, it was running 0-2 minutes late; not very late.


As we approached Albany, I filmed the Amtrak yard there as well as train 449 from Boston which was sitting just south of the station. At Albany, P42 #9 was removed and P32AC-DM #701 was coupled up. For some reason, that unit keeps finding me as it led 286 when I rode it back in 2005 to Rochester, and train 285 to Utica last October. While we were at Albany, I took some photos.





Now that it was evening, fireworks were being set off nearby in celebration for the fourth of July. I saw a few from the station before I reboarded. I called home on my new cell phone and let them know my train was running late and it would be a tight connection at best. However, we departed shortly after I hung up, the train departed at 8:24 pm, running 69 minutes late. I went to the café car for dinner then I went back to my seat. At some points, two more Amtrak trains passed, bound for Albany. The train stopped in Hudson, Rhinecliff-Kingston and Poughkeepsie. I went back to the café car for some milk, but found they were all out of white milk. I then went back to my seat. The train stopped at Croton-Harmon and Yonkers. After we left Yonkers, I readied my bags to dash to train 169. Soon, we were approaching New York City. We went underground and I stood by the end of the car so I would be the first to get off. The train was going around curves so tight; I could see the outside end of the coach in front of my coach! One didn’t want to get their fingers caught. After several tight turns, we arrived into Penn station one hour and eight minutes late. I didn’t have time to take any photos. Instead, I got off and went up the escalator. I heard an announcement that train 169 was boarding on train 14 West. I ran to 14 west and was able to board the train.


I was seated in Amfleet 1 Capstone rebuild coach #82030. Once seated, I phoned home and let my dad know I had made my connecting train, but this was cutting it close!


The train left a couple minutes late. I went to the café car and bought some milk as I was thirsty. I then headed back to the car. The train stopped at Newark. I lay down to get some rest, and despite the fact the train crew kept the lights in the coaches on, I was able to get the best rest in a coach since I rode the Three Rivers and Lakeshore Limited back in 2005.


July 5, 2007:


I woke up as we approached Philadelphia. Some people exited my coach. Shortly after we left, train 66 passed us. I noted to myself that this was the first time I had ridden the portion of the Northeast Corridor that is featured in Microsoft Train Simulator. I lay down again and woke up as we were passing Amtrak’s Bear, Delaware shops. We then stopped at Wilmington. I went back to sleep again until Baltimore. Shortly after we left, I went back to the café car for another carton of milk, but they were all out. I ended up buying an orange juice. The train stopped at BWI Airport.


Soon we were approaching Washington DC. I saw the Amtrak yard with some Acela Express trains as well as the Washington Metro subway yard. We soon arrived into Washington about five minutes late. Once I got off, I walked to the end of the platform and took a photo of the train.



I then went into the station. As I walked through the station, I saw an exhibit on the Titanic. I forgot to photograph it though. I then went out to get a taxi.


I got a taxi almost right away, but apparently there was a taxi shortage, so I had to share it with someone going to New Carrollton. I reluctantly accepted and we headed off. The person I was sharing the cab with got out near the Amtrak station which is right near a subway yard. While we were stopped, I took a photo of some parked subway trains.



The taxi driver then took me to my hotel which was an Econo Lodge in Temple Hills. I paid and then checked into my hotel. My cousin gave me a card that allowed for a 30% discount at Choice Hotels, including Econo Lodge. After requesting a wake up call at 9:30, I called it a night.


I got a wake up call at 9:30 and I headed out. I looked for a restaurant nearby, but I was told the nearest restaurants were a ½ mile away. So I got onto the subway and headed out.


Washington’s subway is somewhat different than the subways in Toronto, Chicago, and New York. There are fare zones and you also have to pay an exit fare. However, you can buy a pass that allows unlimited rides on the Metro for $6.50. I did just that. The Washington subway now has digital displays indicating how long before the next train comes in, which line it’s on, the train’s destination, and the number of cars on the train. As the subway I was going to take pulled in, I photographed it.



I eventually had breakfast at Union station. After breakfast, I caught a red line train to Glenmont station and caught a Ride-On bus route 26. On weekends, Ride-On route 26 goes to the National Capital Trolley Museum, but not on weekdays. I ended up getting off at the intersection of Layhill Road and Bonifant Road and then I walked the rest of the way to NCTM. It was a medium length walk, but I arrived at NCTM and to my delight, I saw ex Toronto PCC #4603 was running. I went up to the main station and photographed 4603.



I went inside and bought a ticket for the next run of 4603. The volunteers at the museum asked if it was my first time visiting. I told them I had visited the museum back in 1999. When I told them I was from Toronto and I wanted to see 4603 again, they told me 4603 is a very reliable PCC and the museum members really like it.


This museum has an exhibit on the streetcars in Washington and an O-scale trolley layout that operates. Interestingly enough two streetcars on the layout are models of two streetcars that were lost in the 2003 fire.




The next streetcar departure wouldn’t be for a little while, so after looking around the main exhibit area, I took a walk out to the carbarn, photographing the equipment in the carbarn which included former Washington PCC #1101, and former HTM PCC #1329, which arrived shortly after I first visited NCTM back in the summer of 1999.



I then walked over to where the carbarn that burned in 2003 once stood. All that’s left is the corner of the barn. Sitting in front of it were the trucks of former DCTS PCC prototype #1053 which was one of the cars destroyed in the fire. I took a couple photos of the sad sight.


The streetcar trucks in the foreground are all that’s left of PCC prototype #1053.


Inside the remains of the carbarn were two streetcars under tarps. One looked like a PCC and I am guessing it is former Washington PCC #1430. They were moved in after the fire.


Soon, it was time to ride 4603. I lined up and got on with a streetcar fan from Philadelphia. The two of us talked to the operator about streetcars and PCCs. I had brought with me some photos I took at NCTM when I visited there in 1999 showing the carbarn that burned and several of the streetcars that were lost in the fire. The PCC then departed and I took some video of the ride. The NCTM has about a mile of track and it’s a 20 minute round trip. At the loop at the other end of the line, I saw the roadbed had been graded for NCTM’s new loop. Because a highway is being built, the museum has to move, but unlike Trolleyville, it doesn’t have to move too far, but the carbarn, visitor centre, and parking lot have to move because that is where the highway will be. I think that this sucks since the trolley museum was in the spot almost fifty years earlier.


On the way back, we stopped in a passing siding and the operator gave us a brief history on 4603 and the museum. She also told me something interesting: The PCCs that ran in Washington DC were built shorter than the standard PCC length. This was because one of the carhouses in Washington had a transfer table to move cars around and the shorter length was to allow the PCCs to be used on the transfer table.


I got out of 4603 for a minute and took a photo of the car in the woods.



Soon, we were back at the visitor centre. I took a few more photos of 4603.




The streetcar fan from Philadelphia asked if he could see the streetcars inside the carbarn, and I decided to follow. The operator of 4603 took us inside and opened up DCTS PCC #1101 for us. I took some interior shots of the car and a couple photos of the PCCs in the barn.




After, we went outside near the remains of the other carbarn. I then went into the giftshop and bought a t-shirt and a couple postcards. I also looked at the history of trolleys in the Washington area.


When I came here in 1999, I tagged along because my sister’s ball team had a tournament in the Washington area. My mom and I had visited one day, but we had to leave after one ride so we could get back in time for one of my sister’s games. This time, I had a bit more time on my hands since I didn’t have to worry about any softball games that day!


However, I did have a few more things I wanted to do that day. So I waited until 4603 left on its next run to film it before I left. As I left, I took one more photo of the PCC under the tarp in what was left of the carbarn that burned.



Click to see a comparison between my two visits to NCTM: NCTM 1999 vs. 2007.htm


As I headed out, I paused by a fire hydrant outside the museum’s entrance and commented that it had unfortunately seen use before. I then walked back to the intersection of Layhill Road and Bonifant Road. I then grabbed lunch from a nearby McDonald’s and waited for a bus to take me to the subway.


I made sure to avoid eating on the transit vehicles in DC because years earlier, I had heard a “horror story” of a 13 year old girl being handcuffed and arrested just because she ate a single French fry on the subway! Talk about overkill!


After I took the bus to the Rockville subway station, I took a subway to Bethesda station and then waited for Ride-On route #29 to take me to Glen Echo Park. While waiting, I photographed a Metro Transit New Flyer D40LFr and a Ride-On hybrid bus. After awhile, my bus came.


After several minutes, I realized I just missed my stop, so I got off at the next stop. However, I did have a long walk down and I took a walk down a side street thinking it would get me down faster, but I was wrong. I soon arrived at Glen Echo Park.


Glen Echo Park was originally started by the Washington DC streetcar company and in while the streetcars were running; this was a popular amusement park. It featured a carousel, a roller coaster, bumper cars, and a swimming pool known as the Crystal Pool. The park closed in 1969; ten years after streetcars stopped running in Washington DC. Today, the carousel still exists while the rollercoaster had long since been torn down. The pavilion where the bumper cars were is now a dance hall. All that’s left of the Crystal Pool is the entrance. I took a photo of the carousel.



            The main reason I went to the park was that there is an ex Philadelphia PCC streetcar parked outside the main entrance to the park. The park owners wanted to have an original Washington PCC parked outside since the museum was started by the Washington streetcar company and had very reliable streetcar service of a streetcar every few minutes; compare that to York Region Transit running buses at 30 minute intervals to Canada’s Wonderland back home!


            However, the park could not find any original Washington PCC streetcars, so they acquired ex Philadelphia PCC #2732 and put it outside the entrance where the streetcars used to stop. The long term plans will have the PCC painted into DCTS colours. Meanwhile, the car sits in Philadelphia’s original scheme. I took some photos of the car.




I then looked around the park and I took a few photos. Interestingly enough, I could almost feel what it must have been like in Glen Echo’s heyday. I took some photos of a plaque on the rollercoaster and the bumper car pavilion and the remains of the Crystal Pool.



The bumper car pavilion, which is now a dance hall.


The remains of the entrance to the Crystal Pool.


I walked around the Crystal Pool to see if I could see what was behind the entrance. I could only see dirt and grass. This made me feel like I was visiting an archeological site that was recently excavated.


I left the park and caught a bus back to the subway. I then rode to the Pentagon station, wondering if I could see where American Airlines flight 77 crashed on 9/11 since I had visited the World Trade Centre sight on my last trip. When I got to the Pentagon, I saw armed guards and signs saying no photography, so I didn’t take any photos! I went to board a bus, and found out I still needed a transfer. That was enough for me, and I retreated back to the subway and rode to Union station!


Once I got back to Union station without incident, I decided to take a ride on the Washington Circulator. The Washington Circulator uses Van Hool A330 buses that are similar to buses run by VIVA back home, but Circulator buses have three sets of doors instead of the typical two on the VIVA buses.


The buses used by the Circulator were originally destined for AC Transit in California, but the company couldn’t afford all the buses, so Washington picked them up. The buses are numbered in the 1100 series. There is a bus numbered 1122, but I didn’t see it. While waiting, I took a few photos, including a photo of a 35 foot Orion 7.



I ended up riding bus #1113. I photographed the bus as it pulled up.



I sat in the back of the bus and Got off at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and 9th street. I took a photo of the bus and filmed it pulling away.



Shortly after the bus pulled away, I photographed a Van Hool highway coach. I then walked a few blocks to the Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center metro station. Just before I got there, a man asked me where the subway station was. I told him, “Right behind you!”


I then got on the subway and rode back to Union station. Once I got there, I had dinner. I then saw that Amtrak train 90, the New York bound Palmetto was due to arrive shortly. I tried to find a good vantage point without success. I then rode the subway one stop north which was near the main line. I waited for awhile and filmed a Regional train and an Acela Express. At one point, I saw an Amtrak switch engine with Superliner coaches which would be sent west the next day on the Capitol Limited. I noticed that one of the three coach cars was a Superliner 2 coach, and I was hoping I would be seated in that coach the next day. I then walked back to the subway. As I walked back, I walked under the main line. As I walked under the tracks, I heard a rumbling, and thought it could have been the Palmetto.


I got back onto the subway and waited for a southbound train. I saw a train departing from Union station. At first, I thought I hadn’t missed the Palmetto, but it turned out to be a MARC commuter train. My subway came and I rode to Chinatown station where I changed to the green line for the ride back to my hotel. A few stops before my stop, a man boarded my car and was trying to get money from passengers claiming he was robbed. I decided I wouldn’t, thinking he was trying to scam people. When I stepped off the subway, this man got off, still looking for money for “exit fare”. I went downstairs and reported this man to the Metro Security. The transit cop told me that he would look into it and that many people do such a scam to try to get money. I felt good either way because one way or another, I was doing my part to help keep the Washington Metro safe, which goes to show that transit/rail fans can be good when it comes to security as they can report any suspicious activity. More transit companies should realize this instead of shunning transit fans by saying “photography is prohibited” or stuff like that.


I then went back to my hotel and dropped my stuff off. I then took a walk looking for a restaurant. After a few blocks, I just bought some stuff from a nearby 7-11 for breakfast the next morning and went back to my hotel where I requested a wake up call at 9:00 am before I called it a night.


July 6, 2007:


I got my wake up call and had breakfast in my room. I then packed up and checked out of my hotel. I then bought a day pass for the Metro and rode to Union station where I paid to have my bags stored while I went to the Smithsonian. I rode the Metro to L’Enfant Plaza station where I walked a few blocks to the Smithsonian’s air and space museum. There was a railway line nearby and I filmed an inbound Amtrak train passing on a bridge over 7th Street. I walked a few blocks and arrived at the museum. Although I had to go through a metal detector, there was no problem. I also found out the admission price was free! I went inside and looked around, photographing many things on display in the aviation exhibits.








A display on the “Black Boxes” that help investigators find the cause of a plane crash. How interesting…



I then went into the space exhibit and photographed a few things relating to the space shuttle.




I then went into the gift shop and looked around. While I was waiting to pay for what I bought, someone accidentally opened an emergency door, triggering the alarm. I left a little while later.


One of the reasons I wanted to go to the Smithsonian was that I found out that they may be getting a 76 ball similar to what I discovered in Tucson, Arizona last year. I asked at the information desk, but the person didn’t know. I figured that if the Smithsonian was to get a 76 ball, it would be in the Arts and Industries building which is a couple blocks away. I then left the Air and Space Museum and bought a hot dog for lunch.


When I got to the Arts and Industries building, I saw it was closed for renovations. I was a little disappointed, but I decided to make use of the time I had to kill. I went to the L’Enfant VRE commuter trains station to see if any trains would pass, but none did. I then rode the subway. First, I rode the blue line to Metro Center, then a red line train to Fort Totten. Where I then transferred to the green line, and then to a yellow line train to Pentagon City station.


Pentagon City station is one stop south of the Pentagon station, and the Pentagon is barely visible. There was a mall near the subway which I looked into for a few minutes. I then headed back to Union Station. When I got off the red line train at Union Station, I filmed my subway departing before I retrieved my luggage and waited for the Capitol Limited which would be departing in 45 minutes. This would be the first time since my Arizona Trip that I had ridden Superliners.


We were allowed to board at 3:55 pm. As I headed towards the train, I saw there was a private car on the end! I quickly photographed it.



I was seated in Superliner 2 coach #34139, the coach I was hoping to sit in yesterday. I took a window seat on the left hand side of the train. Shortly after I found my seat, I phoned home.


The train was almost completely full and I gained a seatmate right away. Unfortunately for me, my seatmate was an obese man and I was squished at times. The train departed on time.


We ran parallel to the Washington Metro for a time. When we arrived at our first stop at Rockville, the HEP in the train went out. It took a few minutes to fix the problem. Meanwhile, I went to the sightseer lounge. I had to get away from my fat seatmate.


After awhile, I went for dinner in the dining car. I was seated with two guys about my age who were going to Cumberland and an older woman who was traveling to Chicago in a sleeper. We talked a bit about where we were from and a little about money. I showed the people a Canadian two dollar coin known as the Toonie. I also told them that when the Toonie was first introduced in 1996, the middle part of the coin would sometimes pop out.


I paid for dinner and soon returned to the sightseer lounge. The train stopped at Harpers Ferry. Sometime later, we stopped to let a freight train pass. Meanwhile, the HEP went out again! The problem was fixed a few minutes later.


The train soon arrived in Cumberland. We departed and I knew we were on the Sandpatch route featured in Microsoft Train Simulator. The route looked slightly different than the route I have in Train Simulator, but the time the route was set was in pre-CSX days. The sun went down.


I noticed I didn’t get a seat check when my ticket was taken, so I went out looking for the conductor. I told him and he said he would give me a check once we left Connellsville. I told him I was sitting next to a fat guy. We made a quick stop at Connellsville. I went back to my seat. After we left, the conductor gave me a seat check saying I was getting off in Cleveland. Not much happened between Connellsville and Pittsburgh.


As we approached Pittsburgh, I saw the city lights in the distance. After a few minutes, we were nearing the station. This would be a smoke stop. We stopped and I stepped out and took some photos. I also saw the Pennsylvanian awaiting the next day’s departure for New York.





I got back on the train and we soon departed Pittsburgh. I watched the Pennsylvanian on the track next to us. It had a P42, four Amfleet 2 coaches, and an Amfleet 1 café car.


The train was now practically full, so I was resigned to my seat and my fat seatmate for the rest of the way to Cleveland. If I was staying the whole night, I’d have been tempted to sleep in the sightseer lounge. Not only was I squished at times, but my seatmate as well as the guy directly behind me snored as I tried to nap.



Click for part 2: Washington-Cleveland trip part 2.htm